It’s a tough gig running a digital business in 2018. This isn’t because there isn’t a multitude of technology available to run a business from a laptop or smartphone. The trouble with running an online business in this day and age is difficulty building trust with customers.
So many have come before you, and more than a few have gone out of their way to make people very leery of doing business with online companies. Much of this started back when the Internet made its way into the majority of households in developed countries back in the mid 2000s, and certain Internet entrepreneurs realized they could dupe people into buying bogus products.
Nowadays, online customers are much more savvy, and it’s going to take some extra effort on your part to gain and maintain their trust. Here’s 5 ways to build trust with potential clients.
1. Complete Transparency
Everything from your ToS, to the About section on your website, to your social media presence needs to scream transparency to clients. Most people are good at sniffing out a rat, and even if you fool a few people now, you’ll get found out eventually. For instance, if you offer an unconditional money-back guarantee for those unsatisfied with your services, honor it. Regardless of how much it might hurt.
Essentially, don’t make promises you won’t/can’t honor. Also, celebrate your successes as a responsible corporate partner. Let people know the movements you support such as Go Green projects, charities, viral social movements, and local initiatives such as giving support to local sports or similar endeavors.
2. Strong Social Media Presence
Make sure your digital business has a strong and highly-targeted social media presence. Bombard people with promotional posts, and they’re more likely to unfollow. Unless you’re L’Oreal or Oakley, followers don’t want your constant coupon offers, especially in the digital service industry. Shamelessly promoting products or services constantly can quickly turn followers off.
Remember to also use the “quality over quantity” rule and don’t waste time throwing junk content out there just to boost your post numbers — nothing ever truly disappears once it’s put out there. When in doubt, read this Sprout Social survey/tutorial whenever your thumbs start itching to put out yet another coupon code for your social media services!
3. Virtual or Real Official Office
The idea of online business being run by some pimple-faced teenager living in mom’s basement are very cliched at this point. While this scenario is probably much more rare than it’s made out to be, you don’t want clients seeing your business as anything less than a legitimate company. If your business can support renting/buying an official offline office where you live and do business, that’s a great way to add legitimacy. However, some businesses don’t require a brick-and-mortar office to support their daily operations.
In this case, an official virtual office address is a great option. Not only will a virtual address cost thousands less per year; they’re a real-world business address you can use to register your business, receive mail at, visit, and use on a limited basis. Many will even answer the phone for you (though this isn’t always included free-of-charge). Customers can even visit your virtual address, and be greeted by a receptionist who can take messages on your behalf, without ever knowing you rarely, if ever visit the location.
4. Virtual Phone Services
If you don’t have a direct line to your business 24/7, you’re missing out on potential clients. Depending on the nature of your digital business, it’s more than likely you service clients outside the area where you and your employee’s live. When a client calls your office in Vancouver at 9:00am, their time, and it’s 3:30 in the morning in your time zone, it’s unlikely you’ll be awake to answer.
A virtual answering, reception, or full-on call center service allows you to bridge the time gap between you and potential clients. This doesn’t just put you in touch with people 24/7, it builds trust and credibility as no online brand should ever sleep. Online customers don’t care about time zones, or that you and your staff are busy on the other line with another client. Best, virtual phone services cost much less than a physical receptionist or two (remember, the work day ends for everyone at some point), or a call center to handle sales and customer service inquiries.
5. Online Chatbot Presence
Some people prefer shopping online as opposed to brick-and-mortar. Many prefer to call a business prior to making a purchase. The rest want to chat online with a real-life person who can answer their questions.
Many digital businesses fail to offer online chat services, or when they do, potential clients are faced with the all-too-common “Currently Offline” message which basically tells them you couldn’t care less about offering convenient service. All that said, all customers want what they want, when they want it. Completing this monumental task goes a long way toward building trust.
This is one area where it might benefit you financially to consider adopting AI chatbot technology on your website. While it’s inarguable that a human is far superior to even the best AI out there currently, AI is improving at blinding speed considering Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Samsung, and others are going out of their way to program their assistants to answer even the most complex questions clients have.
Simply having simple pre-sales questions answered, or programming your chatbot to schedule a call-back at a potential client’s convenience can have a huge impact on building trust and increasing overall sales.
The 5 suggestions made above will most certainly help any digital-based business build trust with potential customers. Thus turning more prospects into long term customers. Modern online businesses can’t afford to lose a single customer due to a lack of trust-building effort on their part.
Transparency, a strong social following, and making your business available to customers 24/7 is the only way to build the trust needed to service clients in the digital era.