It has been vital to success for centuries and will continue to be for centuries more. When we are talking about success on a platform — when we talk about ranking well in Google searches or having a strong Facebook presence — we’re really talking about trust.
Do buyers trust what you’re saying? Do they trust your expertise?
If yes, the platforms will reward you. If not, you'll slip down the rankings.
Smart businesses realize that platforms and tactics should be used to build trust with their audience. Because, I believe, trust is the currency that all businesses share.
But trust isn't just an abstract concept. It's something you can build, measure, and, when you have to, repair.
Below, I'll explain
The building blocks of trust
How to repair broken trust
Why savvy companies use video to build trust faster
We offer consulting services to a small number of businesses each year, some of which are included below. But our mission is to help organizations improve their "trust index" with buyers. We believe this is critical to long-term growth. And it starts with a first impression.
The power of first impressions
Imagine you walk onto a car dealership lot and a salesman comes striding out. Do you expect that salesman to have your best interests at heart, or are you anticipating the whole “Have I got the perfect car for you” routine?
Now granted, used car salesmen have a pretty bad reputation, but it's not unlike the experience when someone comes to your website for the first time.
When customers find you online, they immediately expect your sales pitch. Site visitors are expecting your bias, but you can disarm them by pointedly showing neutrality.
Whenever we lead with honesty, we build trust
How do you show your site visitors that you have their interests in mind?
Focus more on their needs than your celebrating your own excellence. Focus on educating instead of pitching.
We tell ourselves that the buyer doesn’t really want to know how we feel about a product because we’re the ones that are selling it.
If that were true, the buyer would never ask us questions. They’re still holding out a little bit of hope that we might be real and honest with them.
Unfortunately, they’re usually disappointed.
So, let's surprise our buyers with honesty and transparency. Here's how.
Companies like Uber and Zappos have turned well-established industries upside down.
Twenty years ago, no one would want to buy a pair of shoes without trying them on first. What if they don’t fit? Well, Zappos looked at that, built a customer-centered return policy, and alleviated that pain point.
People hated getting into a cab not knowing how much their journey would cost them. Uber built a model to solve for it.
In doing so, each operates from a place of trustworthiness built on a simple idea: Customers trust organizations that understand and solve their problems.
It’s easy to take things personally and get defensive, or to blame the customer for being difficult, but there’s a good chance that the customer is at least partially right.
If you get a negative review online, maybe a dozen other people are thinking the exact same thing but didn’t take the time to write it down.
But if you can listen to your customers, if you can own your past missteps and shortcomings, it can go a long way toward building trust in the marketplace.
To me, the best example of this in the past decade or so is Domino’s Pizza. With slumping sales and mounting customer complaints, Domino’s launched a campaign that took full ownership of the situation.
With the Oh Yes We Did campaign, Domino’s acknowledged its critics and used their feedback to chart a new course.
This model can be followed in every single industry. If your business has negative reviews — and customers recognize this — you can say, “You know what, those bad reviews helped us identify some weak areas, and here’s what we’ve done to improve.”
That way, in one swift motion you have validated your past customers and built trust with your future customers.
Build trust, grow your business
If you’re willing to be transparent, to embrace video, to listen to your customers, past, present, and future, you can build trust.
You can become the most trusted voice in your space — and we are all in the business of trust.
Platforms, tools, tactics, these things come and go. Use the ones that make sense for your business, but remember that you should be using them to build trust. In everything you do, endeavor to be honest and transparent — and put your customers at the center. That way, their needs will inform your choices, and they'll know you're there to help them.