Customer trust will make or break your brand. It is also the one thing that money cannot buy. The only to earn customer trust is by being transparent and consistently delivering value.
Transparency is particularly important for brands in industries that have a reputation for customer exploitation. Used car dealers, insurance companies and financial brokers need to be highly transparent to stand out from their less scrupulous competitors.
Unfortunately, transparency becomes more difficult as new communication mediums are unveiled, such as VOIP. Companies know that there are few records of communications over many of these mediums, so they must be take extra steps to ensure transparency while using technology such as it PBX.
Advertising Doesn’t Buy Trust
Recent surveys have shown that brands are in denial about the challenges they face earning customer trust. They believe that customers trust their advertisements much more than they actually do.
One study from ExpertCity highlights the discrepancy between customer and marketer perceptions on trust. The study found that only 47% of customers believed traditional advertising was trustworthy, while 83% of marketers viewed it as the most trustworthy medium.
Brands in some industries have more difficulty earning trust than others. A 2015 Accenture study found that only 23% of customers trust their insurance providers.
The news isn’t all bad. Customers are becoming more trustworthy, particularly with the online marketing messages of established brands with a reputation for delivering quality products and services. Nielsen found that 69% of customers trust online advertising from reputable brands.
However, brands clearly need to build their reputations first. So how can you earn customer trust? The trick is to be as honest and transparent as possible.
Transparency – The Real Secret to Earning Customer Trust
Honesty and transparency has always been an essential branding strategy. It is more important than ever, because customers can easily share their experiences with millions of their peers with the click of a mouse. If you ever misrepresent your products, your customers will find out.
Seth Godin said that many marketers make the mistake of believing that they need to be as flashy as possible. Rather than being clear on the value of their product, they try to distract their customers with gimmicks. He used a short parable called the “The strawberry conundrum” to illustrate why that isn’t the best approach.
Every grocer has to decide: when packing a quart of strawberries, should your people put the best ones on top? If you do, you’ll sell more and disappoint people when they get to the moldy ones on the bottom. Or, perhaps you could put the moldy ones on top, and pleasantly surprise the few that buy. Or, you could rationalize that everyone expects a little hype, and they’ll get over it. A local grocer turned the problem upside down: He got rid of the boxes and just put out a pile of strawberries. People picked their own. He charged more, sold more and made everyone happier. Hype might not be your best option.
The morale of the story is clear – honesty always pays off.
Transparency is More Important in Murky Markets
Some brands are fighting an uphill battle in their quest to earn customer trust. They are competing in industries with reputations for deception. Health insurance providers, used car dealers and SEO companies come to mind.
These brands need to take transparency to a new level if they hope to gain the trust of their customers. This is one of the reasons used more car dealers have vehicle history reports. They know their customers are skeptical, so they need to be entirely upfront before they can make a sale.
Transparency will become even more important in the years to come. We live in the information age, so customers will find out which brands are honest with them.