Telling the truth about SME life today

Customer trust: It’s essential, but how do you earn it and, most importantly, keep It?

To remain competitive in today’s fast changing environment, business leaders therefore need to ensure their team is delivering a great customer experience time and again. By doing this, businesses will earn trust of customers, a crucial commodity.

The building blocks of customer trust

Regardless of what your customers want from you, they are looking at you as if they were buying something for themselves, not for a business. That’s because businesses don’t make actual purchases. Individuals do.

But before we buy, we re all looking for someone, or something, that we can trust. Trust enhances every buying stage from awareness, to consideration, to content creation and advocacy.

In a recent B2B study, peers were found to be one of the preferred sources of information during the buying cycle. It’s not surprising, 73 per cent of B2B buyers say they prefer solo research, so validation in the form of previous customer feedback, such as online reviews, is key when going it alone.

The search for online trust is growing too, since 2014, there’s been a 70 per cent increase in the number of 18-34 year olds who make the B2B purchase decisions. This tech-savvy bunch are looking for immediate confidence in your business so they can recommend you.

To appeal to your buyers, to improve your online visibility, and to increase sales and retention, you need online reviews. However, you also need to be responding to and harnessing the latest trends in B2B purchasing to capitalise and secure the trust of your customers.

Trends in B2B purchasing

Some 97 per cent of B2B buyers say customer feedback is more credible than other types of content, partly because it fits with a fragmented buying journey. Customer feedback can be accessed at any time, on any device, from anywhere, to give validity to purchase decisions as and when validation is needed.

With 92 per cent of CMOs saying competition in their market has increased pressure to achieve commercial objectives, it’s important to be seen and trusted right from the first click and so your website, blog and social channels are integral to business success.

B2B buyers increasingly search for information online long before your initial conversation with them. They can find out about your company, its products and services, your clients, your competition without ever having to pick up the phone to talk to you.

As a result, having a bank of positive online reviews under your belt can be the difference between generating leads and conversions, and not. Of course, this needs to be supported by a strong web presence across your owned channels, particularly your website, which needs to be easy-to-navigate and understand. Make it clear from the outset what problems your business addresses and how your solutions differ from those of competitors.

A strong online presence will play a crucial role in generating incoming enquiries, but the ability to effectively collect, analyse and interpret data for accurate decisions throughout the selling process is equally important in generating sales once customers have entered your ecosystem.

Analytics involves reviewing data throughout the sales funnel to develop an understanding of where return on investment is strongest, in turn informing where to invest in future.

By relying on data-driven decisions, you can increase the statistical likelihood that lead generation, marketing automation and nurturing activities will produce efficient results.

From a behavioural perspective, the pressure on businesses across both B2C and B2B to operate in an authentic and transparent way has risen fast in recent years. Despite this, many businesses have trouble coming to terms with what it really means.

The best approach is simply to be honest. Customers and clients are smart. They know when you’re being up front and when you might be being selective with the truth. If honesty is the best policy, they?ll appreciate and respect you more when you admit to a mistake.

Mistakes happen, it is how you react to and deal with them which defines a business. In many cases, developing an effective resolution to a problem or mistake can establish a stronger relationship and demonstrate your commitment to a customer more than when a service is delivered as it should be. In short, there are huge benefits to dealing with adversity effectively and transparently.

Keeping the trust of your customers

By utilising and being in tune with the latest trends in B2B relationship building you will be in a strong position to keep your loyal customer base happy. This isn’t just important for protecting the future purchases that each customer might make, but also new customers they are likely to refer.

Ideally, a high level of service should come naturally, rather than being strategically planned. Customer reviews have a crucial role to play in this, evidenced by the fact that 70 per cent of companies with the best customer experience use customer feedback and, at 59 per cent, more than half of software buyers say they write reviews to help others.

Ultimately, the more you plan for great service, the less time you?ll spend delivering it and the more likely you are to enjoy the trust of your customers.

Alan Duncan is the marketing director of Trustpilot

Image: Shutterstock



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