Are you taking the necessary approach to build customer trust?
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
– Warren Buffett
Trust is essential in any good and great relationship. The reason – it’s considered in every aspect of it, that includes the relationship your organization has with its customers. At ever touchpoint. Can they trust what you are saying to be true? Can they trust you to follow up on your promises? Can they trust you’ll be available when they need you?
CONSIDER GETTING SOCIAL
Social media, done well, is an amazingly effective tool at building social capital. It’s an opportunity to talk with your customers, both proactively and reactively… like a normal relationship. And it’s most effective by playing the long game, understanding trust is built in the small interactions as much (if not more so) than the bigger moments of truth. By establishing and maintaining relationships on a personal level across social platforms, you are also highlighting the value of your brand/organization/program/project for the world to see.
This opportunity to engage personally with your audience (the public and industry stakeholders) in a very public and shareable forum, where other members of your audience can see how you respond to inquiries and challenges, helps lay the ground work for that one-on-one relationship but also to the greater audience. The strength of social media is in the “social” portion of the tools: the accessibility and the approachability that comes with connecting with people on a regular basis.
Edelman, one of the bigger international communication firms, conducts a Trust Barometer Survey every year to measure global trust in the media, government, NGOs (non-government organizations) and the business sector. In the latest 2021 edition, as in previous years, trust isn’t high. Though it sometimes has some ups and downs, depending on the country you’re from, it certainly is still more in the “meh” category – not distrust and not actual trust. Though there is a degree of high distrust in many countries.
Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube, Instagram… it doesn’t matter where you focus your time. Creating an online social presence, where you are sharing and engaging with a defined audience can really help in establishing trust.
But how? How do you build that trust? An easy way to think about it is look at your personal life. Look at how you’ve built trust with your friends and family over the years. It’s really not more complicated than that.
THE INGREDIENTS OF A TRUSTED RELATIONSHIP
Dr. Amir Levin wrote a book on the science of attachment, and identified five fundamental elements of a trusted relationship: CARRP – consistent, accessible, reliable, responsive and predictable. Though Dr. Levin is writing this from a romantic point of view, the factors in building trust still stand for any kind of relationship. Including between a brand and its customers.
- Consistency – you are dependable in all things.
The actions you take and words you use don’t vary. You’re not the funny brand that suddenly goes into rants then shifts into disappearing for days.
Good Example – The tone of your engagement and content, the time it takes you to respond, your availability for your customers are all the same over time.
- Accessibility – you are around to have a relationship with.
It’s hard to have a relationship with someone if they aren’t available. Social media is meant to be social, so that is what your customers expect from you. You’re there to have 2-way conversations, not to talk to silence.
Good Example – engagement is a priority, both reactively and proactively to demonstrate you’re there for discussions, comments and questions. And if your account is only active for business hours, communicate that in your profile or bio.
- Reliable – you can be counted upon.
One of the cornerstones of trust is whether the words you say match the actions you take. Everything you say about your brand, across all your marketing (Ex: “we put the customer first”) is demonstrated in your social media. Your customers need to be able to count on you as the brand you say are or trust won’t happen.
Good Example – If you say you’re going to share customer feedback with your marketing or product team, that’s exactly what you do. If you say you’re going to follow up with a customer once you get an answer to their question, that has to happen.
- Responsive – you do get back to me
Respect your customer’s time and effort. If they are taking the time to engage with you, whether with opinions, feedback or questions, it’s important to listen and respond in a timely fashion. Not your idea of timely, but rather their expectations of timely. Social media is a platform for continual engagement and should be treated as such. Even if you don’t have a response, it’s important to still respond with acknowledgement that you’ve heard them and you’re working to help them.
Good Example – if a customer asks a question, you respond within the hour. If it’s outside your business hours, and you’ve communicated those hours in your bio/profile, it’s still good if someone is monitoring for any pressing emergencies or issues.
- Predictable – others know what to expect
It’s hard to have a trusted relationship if you can’t trust them to be themselves. As a brand, you are making a promise to your customer that you will be providing a level of service… a PREDICTABLE level of service. The last thing a customer wants is a surprise. Even if that surprise is great customer service, ensure that level of service isn’t out of the ordinary but rather your standard.
No surprises. Weekly blogs posted, frequent tweets that don’t ebb and flow, and relevant hashtags are used.
Good Example: You understand your brand and what it’s trying to achieve on social media, and demonstrate that with an established tone, voice, availability and presence that provides service that is expected.
- BONUS – Empathy – do you genuinely feel and care for the other person
I couldn’t share Dr. Levin’s attributes with out adding empathy. I don’t know about you, but I can’t have a trusted relationship with a person or an organization if I don’t feel they care about me, my time, my challenges, my circumstances, etc. We will trust an organization that puts us ahead of their particular process (phone tree, script) or tries their hardest to fix our problem because they want us to leave feeling respected. Think about any of your personal relationships and how much having someone care about your well-being matters. . Because it certainly mattered when they didn’t care about you. Empathy is essential to a trusted relationship.
Good Example: When engaging with a frustrated customer, you use conversational and caring language, not scripted or robotic messaging to respond. You speak as you would to a friend you are trying to help.
WHAT TRUST LOOKS LIKE
OK, so what? Trust is amazing but what’s the benefit of putting in all that work to build it? Glad you asked. Once you are demonstrating accessibility, integrity, empathy and personality on a consistent basis, you will notice some pretty big benefits for your organization online.
Your community will:
- come to your defence and champion you.
- help build a better community with ideas and suggestions for engagement and content.
- share your content, further spreading your information.
- give you the benefit of the doubt.
- see you as the source of truth.
- help you improve your product or service.
Customer trust is essential for a healthy brand. And social media is a valuable tool to start to build and maintain that trust, both in 1-on-1 interactions and with customers that are watching how you respond and react to others.
How has trust building and social media helped your organization?