The common refrain in the business world today is that customers buy from those they "know, like and trust." The difficult part for many businesses is figuring out how to go about gaining that long-term trust.
According to a survey from About.com, 84 percent of customers say companies have to first prove that they are trustworthy before giving them their business. This is difficult for many businesses, especially those with policies that put them in direct conflict with customers. Don Peppers, bestselling author and cofounder of Peppers & Rogers Group, a customer-centric management consulting firm, writes that too many companies "eagerly look forward to the added revenues produced by customers making mistakes, overlooking things or simply not paying attention. They may not technically 'cheat' their customers, but they still can't be trusted."
Here are seven reasons your customers don't trust you and what to do about it:
1. You don't listen when customers call, write or post. Many small businesses don't answer phone messages the same day, or they set up an automated email response that says a customer's inquiry will be answered within 72 hours. Also, a number of companies don't respond when customers post comments on social media and review sites like Yelp. Solution: Your company needs to monitor all customer communications channels to ensure responses are made in a very short period of time.
2. Returns and refunds are not easy or prompt. You make it too difficult to return a product or stop using your service. When the customer finally reaches you, there's a delay in receiving a refund or the service period ends. Solution: While it may be counterintuitive, make it easy for customers to stop using your service or get a refund for your product. If they sign a long-term contract, make it easy for them to get out if they are dissatisfied. This can be a positive experience for the customer and take away any fear of doing business with you again.
3. Your products or services don't work as promised. Your marketing material unintentionally misleads the customer, and your website "embellishes the truth." As a result, customers are disappointed after their purchase. Solution: Only promise what you can absolutely deliver. Review your marketing material with recent customers to see if the brand promise lived up to their expectations.
4. You don't really like your customers. Inside your company, you talk behind your clients' back about how much you dislike them-maybe even call them names.Solution: Customers can feel this negative attitude through interactions with your employees. Value your customers and appreciate how solving their problems grows your company. Don't say anything about customers behind their back that you would not say directly to them.
5. You charge customers for their "mistakes." You take advantage of your customers by, say, not warning them about a late charge that may be coming.Solution: Warn customers of any fees they may incur in advance of when they might happen. This will make it feel like you are working with them instead of against them.
6. You charge add-on fees that the customer thought was included in the purchase. While no one likes to be surprised, most customers will pay for value.Solution: Don't "nickel and dime" a customer with additional fees, but instead provide an overall price that includes these extras. Before the purchase, be very clear on what the price includes and what will cost extra.
7. You don't allow your customers to post reviews on your site. You want your customers to trust you, but you don't trust them enough to post unfiltered reviews on your website to help new buyers. Solution: Customers now are influenced more by peer reviews than your company advertising. Depending on your business, customer reviews are now a required feature.