Gaining Customer Trust

“I’m from the insurance company, and I’m here to help.” Trust that? Didn’t think so. You know it’s wiser to believe people’s actions, not their words. Your customers know it, too. What are you to them? One more vendor competing with others for their eyeballs and their dollars.

How can you get them to prefer you over the competition? It’s a matter of trust. People trust you when you give them power.

First, use bread crumbs to lead them to their power information or a tool on your site. You know how a well-rounded meal begins with an appetizer leading up to the main course? Put the bread crumbs (seasoned, tasty ones) in the newsletter, leading them to the beef (or soy protein, if you prefer) on the site. What do they value? Probably something that’s faster or easier than offerings elsewhere.

Once they’re at the table and digging in, treat them to dessert a well-informed, quick and easy ordering experience. Think you’ve already made the ordering process intuitive? Well-informed? Easy? For you, maybe.

Current stats say that seven newbies start using the web every minute. For them, nothing is intuitive, and everything that requires them to give personal information and a credit card number is terrifying. Of course, the first place they feel safe and smart is the place they’ll return to.

Relative newbies will not remember the one little blurb they’ve read about secure servers or look for “shttp” in the location. They will remember every scary story they’ve heard about online buying. They will reinforce that resistance to “risky” new technology every time they aren’t sure where their personal information goes, every time they don’t know if the transaction has been completed successfully, every time they’re not told when to expect delivery. You have to show them in every possible way that their secret’s safe with you.

They can’t help it that’s how the human brain learns. The more senses you use to receive related information, the better you retain it. Multisensory input is why you vividly remember scenes from “Star Wars” and “Independence Day” (tentacles… punch… “Welcome to Earth!”) lots of eye candy and ear candy. Share this moment: the “Men in Black” commercial, “See it again…” !!pen-flash!! “for the first time.” Are you ever gonna forget that?

That’s another key learning concept: reinforcement. You want to reinforce trust at every step of the information-absorbing and purchase processes. Here’s a checklist for how to do that:

  • Tell consumers in a newsletter or email exactly what they can expect to find on your web site.

  • Ensure that once consumers land on your home page, they can find exactly what your newsletter or email said they could find, reinforcing that “there’s real value here.”
  • Show pictures (and provide audio, if it helps) of what they might want and what they may then decide they really need.
  • Demonstrate how the product or service works don’t just tell them; show them.
  • Create a simulated scenario where the user can test the product or service. We all understand the attraction of “adult entertainment” sites, right? So you know how effective this type of hands-on engagement might be for, say, software. Okay, I’ll stop now.
  • Do NOT count on them remembering or even reading the privacy policy; lead into the purchase process with statements that you do not sell customer information and that their financial information is purged as soon as the transaction is completed.
  • Remind them of those privacy and security measures whenever it makes sense during the purchase process like during the interactive simulation.
  • Give clear directions through the purchase process. Ensure that the directions are clear by testing them on all types of potential users, particularly newbies, before you publish the ordering pages.
  • Confirm the order with a printable, detailed order page that includes a delivery time frame. Remind users to print this page. Also, save it in their account file for a reasonable period after the order has been delivered.
  • Email them a confirmation that either contains the detailed order info or a link to the confirmation page that they should have printed. (You know they either didn’t print it or lost it after they printed it.)

Remember that these are human beings who are paying you to treat them respectfully, so help them feel informed and confident.

This strategy is not just for web pages. There are other media you have to worry about. Jeffrey Graham, in “The Dissolution of the Web,” talks about how diverse web access devices increasingly empower consumers. Keeping customers by keeping them trusting you becomes ever more challenging.

For relevant ideas: Kim MacPherson shares some pointers that apply to all the information you offer as well as the “instructional” info, particularly about keeping those “fish” fresh. Boiled down, the tidbits are:

  • Give full nutritional value provide complete information.

  • Don’t smother the main course in sauce keep the message clear.

Kim’s fresh ideas are worth devouring raw. End of puns.

Homework: Generate some ideas about how to use training tactics to engage site visitors in building your business, while pursuing their own best interests. Hint: Think about how respectfully you treat complaints. Meanwhile, if you need coaching, you know where to find me.

Recess: If it’s later than 10 a.m., you need to take a break. Deskercise of the day: Your shoulders. (Get the world off them! Shrug your shoulders, open your eyes wide, and say, “I dunno.” Okay, after that little vacation, you can go back to being the guru.)

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