A recent survey by Salesforce, a manufacturer and distributor of CRM software, reported the consumer trust in brands has hit a new low. It went on to say that 59% of respondents to their survey are afraid that their data is susceptible. While that number may be debatable, what should be most worrisome to marketers is that 54% don’t believe that corporations consider the best interests of their customers.
It doesn’t help consumer confidence to know that 3 million people are currently employed in the $3 billion a year data gathering industry. Some are the ones you receive emails from or ads on Google informing you that you can discover what others know about you (for a fee).
How To Build and Maintain Trust
“In order to establish trust, it is first important that you be trustworthy. This means you should be forthright with all your dealings” Those were the words of ethics expert Paul Melendez.
The first step toward building trust requires personalized communication with your publics. When possible, segment your customers by areas of interest, concern, etc. Speak clearly and candidly to them as you would a friend.
The second step involves being transparent. If you once had an issue, describe it and what you did to resolve it as well as what you also did to prevent the same from occurring again.
The third step is to let your target audiences know how much you appreciate and value their information. Be clear about how important they and their personal information are to you.
The third step is to reassure your audience about how you will guard and protect their privacy. Promise them that their information will never be sold or used for other than your stated purposes. It wouldn’t hurt to remind them of that also.
Step five involves inviting comments from your customers. Publish favorable ones but only if you have the customer’s consent. Take negative ones seriously, even if they seem frivolous. Still, check those out and respond to each one. Where it’s discovered that a complaint had some validity, let your customers know what it was and how it was satisfactorily resolved.
Step six is to stand by your products and, when necessary, admit that there were some issues and explain how they were corrected. A recent study reported that 67% of respondents said they would be willing to try a product, but not purchase it in the future if they didn’t trust the manufacturer.
Step seven toward building trust is to assume there’s a direct connection between consumer trust of your products and your company. Nurture that relationship as often as you can without being overbearing.
Finally, remember to consider the customer first. Understand their fears and motivations and do what you can to assure them that your company not only places them first and values them but is also being proactively aggressive in protecting them and their data.
To quote American businessman and author, Stephen Covey, “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”
Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR, a NYC based Public Relations Agency.