Trust is essential to business success. It is what drives total strangers to patronize your products or services - your customers trust that you will deliver on your commitment. Trust is an absolute non-negotiable in business. You must be able to win the trust of your prospects in order to secure their patronage.
Surprisingly, trust is not the abstract concept that it at first appears to be. It turns out that trust is more like a tangible structure that you can engineer. Or if you don't like that comparison because it seems too simplistic for such a complex idea, then you may want to think of trust as a state or condition that you can create by making sure its key components are in place.
The caveat here is that merely having these components in place is no guarantee that people will trust you. But not having any single one of them makes it impossible for trust to grow between your small business and your customers.
You should also note that the components stack up on top of each other in a specific way. The elements at the bottom of the stack are absolutely necessary and serve as the foundation of the next element that goes on top. Eliminate one or more of the foundation components, and it will be impossible to create the subsequent ones, and there will be a failure of trust.
1. Your Reputation
This is where it all begins and the basis upon which people will decide whether or not they can trust you. In the online world and social media, this means that people will be scrutinizing your profiles, your past work and your history. To make sure you pass this test and give a very good first impression of your business, review all your social media profiles.
Is there any information missing? Are your optics all in place? Are you consistently producing blog content? Address and resolve what details need addressing and make sure your online presence is impeccable and appealing.
2. Be Honest and Open
Once people are satisfied about your reputation and proceed to the second level, you need to build on that foundation and strengthen the structure with honesty and openness. Personal growth guru Stephen Covey identifies the following trust-building behaviors:
Show respect toward others
Right any wrongs you may have committed
Be loyal to your audience
Deliver on your commitments
Constantly learn and improve yourself
Be grounded in reality
Set clear expectations
Show that you trust others
You're not done yet! Now that you have begun to win people's trust by showing that you can be trusted, you need to demonstrate trustworthy behavior consistently. This gives your customers a certain degree of comfort and allows them to anticipate your future actions.
4. Demonstrate Value
Finally, at the top of your trust structure, you need to give people what they want. This is important because it plays into the "what's in it for me?" reality. By giving them things of value, you are recapping the entire trust structure you have just built with them and you are assuring people that you can indeed be trusted.
5. 3rd party endorsements
It has been proven time and again that 3rd party endorsements are one of the absolute best ways to convert a visitor into a customer. I can't stress enough how useful these little blocks of text can be. If you have testimonials from previous customers make sure you place them proudly on your web site. You don't need to get crazy with them --just a few will do.
Photo Credit: Business Trust/shutterstock