“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.”
So said the great 19th century Scottish poet George MacDonald, and one imagines he’d be pleased to know that in the 21st century, those are still words to live by.
Like any healthy relationship, consumers aren’t going to stick around for the long haul with a company unless trust is established and maintained. Let’s examine a few methods for keeping the bond between you and your customers as strong as possible.
“Transparency” is the concept du jour of the marketing world, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it’s simply a passing a trend. The truth is, transparent practices are a necessity for any online marketing campaign to thrive. In essence, transparency is based on a few simple, practical principles. For starters, you should be able to meet the consumer’s expectations by delivering exactly what you promise. If you make a mistake, do what your mother told you to do: say you’re sorry. Encourage feedback from consumers, and if you receive some salient negative input, share it publicly to keep the dialogue open.
How can you trust what you don’t know? Many consumers regard companies as faceless entities who prefer to talk “at” them, as opposed to engaging in a genuine human relationship. Social networks are a perfect venue to get friendly with your target audience and give them insight into the “personality” of your brand. American Express does a good job of connecting with their customers via their Facebook page, engaging them in down-to-earth conversations as simple as “It’s hot out here! How are you & your Amex Card staying cool this weekend?” Those two sentences alone managed to generate over 600 “likes” and 430 comments.
GO THE EXTRA MILE
Remember the time you had a really bad cold and your best friend dropped by out of the blue with chicken soup and your favorite movie? Thoughtful, unexpected gestures are never forgotten, and consumers love a company that treats their relationship with the respect and care it deserves. Find small ways to let customers know how lucky you are to have them in your corner, and make sure you take the time to reward your most loyal supporters.
You won’t find it on any stat sheet, and its qualities have always been frustratingly difficult to describe, yet trust remains the fundamental quality necessary to maintain a healthy, long-term relationship with your customers. By adopting policies built on transparency, direct connection and thoughtfulness, you can be confident that you’re creating a foundation for lasting trust.