Customer trust and loyalty are essential for building a successful business. And while this may sound obvious, it’s hard to overstate the value of establishing a solid base of long-term customers.
That’s because customer retention is much more cost-effective than constant acquisition. In fact, it costs five times more to earn a new customer than it does to keep an existing one1.
And beyond retention, 83% of customers say they’d recommend a business they trust to others. This means that earning customer trust can not only help you keep your existing customers, but can also help you passively earn new leads and sales through word of mouth2.
It’s clear, then, that building customer loyalty and trust is a worthy goal for any business. That’s why in this post, we’ll go over six strategies you can use to build long-term relationships with each of your customers.
1. Offer Excellent Customer Service
The level of customer service you provide has a major impact on customer loyalty and retention. This means it’s absolutely essential to have dedicated support staff and to set high standards for the speed and quality of your service.
Once you’ve hired and trained a team of support agents, you need to make it easy for your customers to get in touch. Offer multiple support channels, and feature those channels prominently on your site.
Then, as customers reach out with questions and issues, make sure to be consistent with your responses. Create a set of guidelines for your agents that outlines appropriate answers for more common inquiries, and ensure that they have the tools they need to find solutions to more complex ones.
Of course, that’s not to say that you should take a one-size-fits-all approach to serve your customers. Encourage your agents to see these responses as the basic framework for their interactions, but to treat each customer as the individual they are.
After all, it’s hard to earn trust and loyalty when your customers feel like they’re being treated like numbers. Instead, your goal should be to offer an efficient, consistent service with a personal touch.
Train your agents to deliver the information each customer needs, then take the time to make sure that the customer’s needs have been met. And if there’s an opportunity to above and beyond — take it.
A few extra seconds of effort can be all it takes to make a customer’s day. And that can go a long way in establishing the kinds of relationships you want for your brand.
2. Publish Customer Reviews and Testimonials
No matter how trustworthy your brand, consumers will almost always trust other consumers more than companies. That’s because they know that no matter how unbiased you may try to be, you’re ultimately going to position your brand in a positive light.
But you can use your audience’s trust of other customers to your advantage by publishing reviews and testimonials on your site.
If you run an e-commerce store, for example, encourage your customers to leave reviews and add those reviews to product pages.
If you run a service-based business, on the other hand, ask your current and past clients if they’d be willing to share their experiences with your company. Then, use their responses to create a testimonials page.
Regardless of the exact approach you take, hearing from other consumers will make prospective buyers more comfortable giving your business a chance — and will help them trust your brand right from the start.
3. Be Transparent
If you want your customers to trust you, you need to be deserving of their trust. That means being honest and transparent about what they can expect from your company.
And this should start right from their first interaction with your brand. Avoid misleading sales copy and gimmicky marketing campaigns, and don’t attempt to grab your audience’s attention with exaggerated claims about your products or services.
Instead, aim to be as clear as possible about what you have to offer, and establish accurate customer expectations from the start.
Reaching this goal also requires the involvement of your sales team. They should be straightforward with pricing information, fees, and any policies that may impact prospective buyers in the future, like return and cancellation procedures.
Essentially, every customer should know exactly what to expect before signing a contract or placing an order. And while sharing certain pieces of information may dissuade a lead or two from converting, that’s okay.
When it comes down to it, making sure that all of your customers are satisfied with their experience is much more important than generating as many sales as possible.
After all, customers that are caught off guard a few months into their relationship with your brand are highly unlikely to stick around. But those who are given all of the information they need to make an informed decision will be appreciative of that fact — and will know that they can trust your team.
4. Ask for Feedback
Customers want to know that the brands they purchase from care about their opinions and needs. And the best way to show that you do is to ask for feedback and input regularly.
Send surveys on a regular basis and ask your customers to share their opinions. Have your products lived up to their expectations? Are they able to get the support they need when they have questions? Are they satisfied with their overall experience with your company?
Most importantly, your surveys should include an area in which customers can provide suggestions as to what you could be doing better.
Then, as you review the responses, look for opportunities to improve. When you use feedback to make real changes, you not only show your customers that you value their input, but can also make the kind of adjustments that have a positive impact on your entire customer base.
5. Create a Loyalty Program
This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but creating a loyalty program is one of the best ways to earn customer loyalty. In fact, 76% of North American consumers say they’re more likely to choose retailers that offer loyalty programs3.
The reasoning behind this is clear. When you offer rewards for repeat purchases, you give your customers a clear incentive to stick with your brand instead of switching to one of your competitors.
And this is a strategy that can be adjusted for any industry and business model. While discounts are the most popular form of reward, the possibilities are endless.
E-commerce retailers, for example, often offer free bonus items to frequent shoppers, along with early access to certain sales and promotions.
B2B companies, on the other hand, can offer perks like exclusive content, and invitations to webinars and in-person events.
Regardless of the exact approach you take, the goal is to make it more advantageous for your customers to continue buying from you than to test out their other options. And the more you cater to their needs, the more effective you’ll be in getting them to stick around.
6. Always Put Your Customers First
When it comes down to it, your ability to earn customer trust depends on your ability to reliably give your customers what they want. And one of the best ways to do this is to build a company-wide customer-centric culture.
Within some companies, the only employees that really focus on customer needs are customer service and support staff. And this is far from ideal.
Instead, it’s in your best interest to encourage all of your employees to think about your customers, and how they can work to make a positive impact on those customers in their own role.
When each of your teams is encouraged to consider how the decisions they make impact your customers, they’ll be much more likely to make the kinds of decisions your customers want.
This focus makes building trust much easier — because when your products and services reflect a focus on customer needs, it’s not hard to convince your audience that you care.
Trust and loyalty are the building blocks of a strong customer base. They’re essential for earning long-term customers and can make all the difference in your company’s success.
And earning customer trust doesn’t require any sort of complex strategy. The best step you can take is to offer excellent customer service, and make sure that your support team knows the importance of their roles.
From there, be as transparent and honest with your customers as possible at every stage of the buying process, and ask for their feedback on a regular basis.
You can also give customers an unbiased look at your brand by sharing customer reviews and testimonials, and give them an incentive to remain with your brand by creating a compelling loyalty program.
Essentially, the goal is to put your customers first and to make sure that those customers know they’re your top priority. When you accomplish this goal, you can be confident that customer trust and loyalty will follow closely behind.
1 – https://www.inc.com/jeff-pruitt/why-your-businesss-growth-potential-isnt-in-net-new.html?cid=search
2 – https://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/01/19/5-ways-to-build-customer-trust/#73534f3a3fe4
3 – https://www.inc.com/peter-roesler/5-ways-to-build-customer-trust-and-loyalty-in-the-digital-age.html