How To Build Trust In Your Online Business

When somebody goes online to search for products or services, they are instinctively suspicious. This is even the case with big, multinational brands. Most people are fairly educated about the way in which the web works, and they understand that just about anybody can set up a website. Even if your business is Nike, the people that visit your website will always be on the lookout for signs that you may be an imposter.

Of course, suspicion is never helpful when you are trying to secure a sale. It is your task to convince potential customers that you can be trusted. Unfortunately, they rarely give you more than a few minutes to convince them that you are a legitimate, responsible business that can deliver on all of its promises.

If you sell products, customers want to be absolutely sure that you will dispatch items quickly and they will be received as described. If you sell services, your potential clients need to believe that you can do the things that you claim.

In both cases, customers often need to be persuaded that they can trust you with their confidential payment details.

In this article, you will discover just how crucial it is for you to be build trust on the Internet if you hope to turn your business into a success. Read on to learn why trust is so important, the disastrous consequences of getting it wrong, and some practical ways to get it right.

Customers See Your Online Business As Smoke and Mirrors

Imagine that you are walking the high street searching for books when you see a sign stuck to a door. It says ‘Cheap Books Here!’ and so you go inside, briefly noticing the name of the shop at the top of the window.

Once inside, you realise that the shop is empty. There is nothing more than a curtain in the corner of the room. A voice echoes from behind it.

“What book are you looking for?” it booms.

You respond into the air.

“Yes, we’ve got that one. £10 please.” A hand creeps around the curtain, waiting to take your money.

If you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t give your money away that easily! You haven’t seen the item, the person who is selling it to you, or any proof that this is the kind of business you can trust.

But this is the same experience that customers get when they decide to shop online for products or services. They are expected to pay for something that they haven’t physically seen, to somebody that they don’t know anything about.

Your business may be honest and upfront. You may have the best products in the world and the best service to back them up. But everyone says that.

Why should your visitors believe you?

Three Trust Building Features Of The Best Online Businesses

If there is a simple answer to the complex question of building trust as a business, it is reputation. If the potential customers that visit your website can read feedback and comments from satisfied customers, they will be more confident in your abilities to do what you claim and deliver quality products and services.

There are many ways that you can leverage the power of customer feedback. Here are just three to get you started:

1. Use Customer Testimonials On Your Website

The easiest thing to do is just publish a long list of testimonials on your website from existing customers. If you are doing good business you will receive a lot of positive feedback naturally, but always ask for permission to publish the review along with some customer information.

Many online businesses publish testimonials without saying where they came from. This is a particularly spurious way of doing business, and will probably raise more concerns than having none at all.

So what do you do if you have no existing customers to quote and are just getting started with your business? A great technique is to ask reputable online organisations and individuals to help you out. Perhaps you could send a free sample of your product to niche bloggers, and ask them to provide testimonials in return?

2. Sign Up To An Independent Reviews Website

Once you are more established, do not assume that the need to build trust disappears. In fact, as your customer base grows and you have less time to concentrate on each individual visitor, it can become even more difficult to spend time on bolstering customer confidence.

There are many external websites and business directories that include business reviews, and these are great tools for building trust and also winning new customers.

At FreeIndex, the leading UK business directory, you can create a listing for your business free of charge. This public profile will contain information on what you do and how people can get in touch.

But FreeIndex also offers the capability for customers to post reviews and increase your overall rating. As your number of reviews increases, you can add a badge to your website. This has two significant effects – you can show potential customers that you have received lots of positive feedback, with the added authority of an independent website.

Some other great places to get your business reviewed are Yelp and Google Places.

3. Give Your Customers A Voice That Can Be Heard

Finally, if you have enough customers to support it, integrating discussion with your website is a highly effective way to build trust.

A message board, or forum, gives visitors the chance to start their own conversations about your business, your products, and the wider industry. As these individuals discuss your services, potential customers can quickly see that you have lots of happy customers.

Of course, starting a message board opens the door to negative comments. Hopefully, you will not receive any of these! If you do, though, turn them into positive opportunities by being professional and supportive. After all, this is your chance to show potential customers just how brilliant your customer service is!

Your web hosting provider will usually be happy to tell you which options are open to you when it comes to launching a forum on your website. Usually, you can install a message board like phpBB – which is free – automatically with a script installer that is included with your plan.

Several plugins are also available for WordPress that offer message board functionality. You can explore them at wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tags/forum.

Security For Your Online Business

Of course, reputation is only one side of what makes a trustworthy business online. People don’t just need to trust that you can provide great products and services – they also need to trust you with their confidential information including:

  • Credit Card Data
  • Address Details
  • Passwords and Logins

The first thing that people check when parting with this kind of sensitive data is to look at the security features of your website. All confidential data should be sent through Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. The way that you prove your trustworthy nature when it comes to this information is with an SSL Certificate.

SSL Certificates are issued by companies that vouch for the security processes that you have in place. Your web hosting provider should support SSL, and can help you to get an SSL Certificate for a small fee.

Although there are alternative ways to take payments online including Paypal, an SSL Certificate does more than tell customers that data is being transferred securely. It tells them that you are a trustworthy company overall, responsible in the way that you conduct business online.

Be A Real, Accountable and Reachable Business

Finally, perhaps the most important thing of all when it comes to building customer trust is just being a real person, not a faceless business name without connections to the real world.

It almost goes without saying that your website should tell visitors everything that they need to know about who you are and how you can be reached. By publishing your phone number, a mailing address, and a company registration number if applicable, your visitors can get in touch to check you out before they make their purchase, and be confident that they could reach you if something went wrong.

There are many reasons that people shy away from giving out this kind of information their websites. Some people expect to receive nuisance calls the moment they put their phone number online. Others don’t like the idea of publishing their home address, but do not have a business address to use.

These are understandable reasons, but let them go. If you want customers to give you their trust, you’ll need to give them something in return.

Be an open, honest person and visitors will see your business as open and honest too. Show them that you are a real human being that they can trust and they will always put their trust in your online business.