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Building trust and customer loyalty in your E-business

Published by Tom Wilson on 6 December 2008
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In today’s recessionary trends and ongoing financial fiasco, most companies are facing a customer crunch. Buying has decreased tremendously and the E-businesses are just as affected as the other off line businesses are. Selling goods and services on the net has become even more difficult and has entrepreneurs looking for newer ideas to boost up sagging sales.

In such trying times, those businesses manage to win who retain customer trust and are able to sail through these difficult times. However, an economic crisis also offers an opportunity to innovate and necessitate steps to enhance processes.

In these times, the companies those are able to stay above board and win the trust of the customers will benefit immensely and will flourish once the situation becomes better.

The interactive nature of E-business offers a great opening for entrepreneurs to directly interact with consumers and know them and all those who purchase or simply visit the site.

This gives a detailed insight into the nature of the customers and what exactly do they need, to learn about their wants and respond accordingly. This is a wonderful opportunity to redesign the business process according to their needs and in the process build a long-term relationship of trust.

How to do it?

This process can be done in several ways.

  1. Start a blog and invite customers, guests and visitors to comment on your blog posts and write about their experiences…good, bad, ugly. Do not forget to respond to the comments and always send follow-up comments.
  2. Another great option is to start a forum that will attract your target audience for whom the product is aimed at.
  3. In the web world today, the most happening thing is the social network marketing sites like Twitter, LinkedIn etc., all offer E-business entrepreneurs the opportunities to interact with a wider market at various levels of the industry and discover newer customers and applications and of course network for furthering business goals.
  4. The basic point is just “Listen to your customer” and then follow-up with products and services that meet their needs at prices that suit their budgets.
  5. A great idea that can help in trust building is to start an online survey for your potential consumers and give them some incentive to complete it. This ensures that you get accurate information and get to know your customer’s needs what they think of the product a little better and give those services accordingly. Sites like Surveypro.com can be used to monitor and handle your online surveys and compile results.
    • Keep the survey short.
    • Stick to “yes or no” questions and multiple-choice answers to ensure that more and more customers take the survey.
    • Let the results guide you about the trends and fashions prevalent.
    • Broadcast the results of the survey and call for comments and suggestions from your customers.

    The whole process of surveying should be an exercise in trust.

    Apart from bringing in important information, a successful survey will also present you with newer prospects regarding your goods and services and help you win the loyalty of your prospective buyers.

    Therefore, look at Surveys with a new perspective. See it as an effective tool for building stronger ties with your target-audience, building trust and a means to stay float even in recessionary times.
  6. Building trust is not a thing that is achieved in a day or two; it takes time and is a two-way street that is both “rational and emotional”. You cannot win a customer’s trust without putting in loads of hard work and proving your genuineness. Trust building is an exercise done over years and is a great way to raise your credit rating with your clients and attract loyal customer for life.

    Building a relationship of trust in business is difficult enough, but it gets tougher when it gets to the portals of E-business because for every genuine businessperson and seller out there, there are at least a dozen others who are illegitimate. For a customer doing his shopping on the web it becomes very difficult to differentiate between the two and be sure that yours is a genuine portal. This has to be established and done very vehemently so that the customer is assured that the site is safe and secure, that all transactions are protected, and he or she will not be conned.

    Make trust and security as your USP and impress upon your buyers that their hard-earned money is safe and there is no fraud involved. The consumers need to be sure that all their concerns will be taken care of before or even after the transaction is over.
    Customer trust is the ‘mortar and brick’ for online business and a few simple tricks that will help you achieve it are:
    • Clearly spell out your contact details on the site
    • Give clear-cut details about how you will store and use the information that they give you. Have your privacy policy clearly displayed on the site.
    • Make your site in such a way that the purchase process is swift and the checkout is fast. Lingering on for too long on the purchase forum makes customers suspicious.
    • Being straight, transparent and honest in your dealings and giving information clearly on your site is the difference between a genuine and a fraudulent site.

    Also, be sure to state your dispute resolution policy in case there is any problem that may crop up later on.
  7. Use Escrow services- Escrow is a payment technique in which a third party holds the funds until the buyer authorizes them to make the payment. Under escrow arrangements, the transactions take time to execute but give great peace-of mind to the consumer, as he knows that his money is safe and can be returned at any time.

    Escrow facilities do not come free; they may cost anything from 0.85% to 5% of the value of the transaction.

    However, the only trouble with escrow services is that it can provide only a one-sided assurance of honesty. What happens if a buyer acts dishonestly and refuses to pay up even after receiving the product? Well then, the seller has to bare the brunt of it!

All the above techniques can be used to build a trustworthy relationship with your clients, for a lifetime.

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