4 Ways To Build Trustworthy Online Business Relationships
One of the keys to developing a successful business is by building positive relationships with your customers and letting them know that they are more than just a number on your online hit counter or just one more transaction processed on a given day. Today’s competitive market allows customers the opportunity to buy what they want from where they feel respected and appreciated. This means that if as a store all you do is say “hello” and “goodbye”, people may end up preferring your competitors’ service over yours.
There are several ways you can make your customer feel appreciated, and not all of them have to do with offering them special deals. Compared to the offline world, building productive and beneficial relationships with online customers can be a little trickier, since there is no physical interaction. You can still use a few techniques, however, to become their virtual friend.
- Be Personal – Show You Care
How do you feel when you receive a birthday card? Someone is caring about you. If you own an online business, make sure the website asks for optional information, such as birthdays or anniversary dates, within the registration form.
This is not to be used for marketing purposes however, and should never, ever be shared with any third-party vendors. Rather you can use these details to send them a snail mail greeting card for the special occasion. Yes, e-cards are more convenient and probably less expensive, but you will make them feel that much more special when they realize you took the time to send them a greeting card.
- Communication Builds Trust
Building a relationship with your customer is also all about building trust and communication is the way to do that. You need to focus on their value and not only on the most recent sale. I recently called Weight Watchers to request cancelation of an order I accidentally placed with them. I was impressed by their receptiveness and eagerness to help me.
Weight Watchers know that a customer’s value goes beyond what they buy from you, product or service. The more trust they build, the higher their potential customer’s value. Remember, a happy customer will tell three of their friends about a good experience but a disgruntled customer will relate any bad experience with as many as 13 other potential customers.
Some companies will go even further to call their customers and thank them for buying their product. If you do contact them be sure to call them by name and present a positive attitude, not one that sounds like you are being forced to make the call. You should also engage them in a non-business conversation to make the call more personal and let them know that you are available to offer any assistance they may need in the future.
It is important that you have an easily reachable customer service. Displaying the company’s contact information may be enough for most businesses, but if you really want to engage your customers on a personal level, let them know how to reach you directly by phone, or at the very least, by your own email address.
- Let them Rate You
What does your customer think of you? Are they satisfied with your service? Let them answer these questions by giving them a short questionnaire at the end of your phone conversation. Whenever I talk to a Bank of America representative I receive an email titled: “How Are We Doing?”, which directs me to a brief customer satisfaction survey.
Your customers’ participation and feedback are critical not only to helping you understand how your business is doing but also to strengthening the trust factor between the two parties.
- Handle Any Issues Quickly
You will also need to provide for two-way communication with your customers. If they contact you with an issue, make sure it is handled as soon as possible and then notify them of the steps you took to make sure their issue was resolved. If you can not fix the problem, do not ignore them. Contact them personally and explain why the issue can not be fixed and then ask them how you can make it right for them.
Consider their point of view on any issue that may arise and take their side. If it is a problem with a vendor, interfere on their behalf until a mutually acceptable resolution can be found. Simply telling them it is out of your hands may likely take any future funds they will spend out of your hands as well.
Through my affiliate relationship with big companies in the diet and weight loss field (Weight Watchers, South Beach Diet, Nutrisystem, eDiets, etc), I have come to realize that one of the best gauges of how well you have earned trust with your customers is through referrals they give you with their friends or other business owners. The absolute best way to earn that trust is to stand by your claims. Once they know your business keeps its promise to them as a customer they will trust you enough to let others know.