In recent years we’ve seen the dawn of trust seals – those little graphics on web sites that serve as a third-party verification of one thing or another. The BBB and Truste have been the leaders in this type of service. But trust doesn’t come that easy. Like one political slogan doesn’t capture all voters, neither does one trust seal on a web site gain the trust of all customers. It takes time, persistence and the right combination of image, design, technology and real customer service efforts.
Here are six tips a web site owner should consider in building greater consumer trust:
1. Have your web site professionally designed. A web site that looks low budget will come off as a low-budget, unprofessional business. Some have said that image is everything. Well, in the world of the Internet, your web site is the only face most people will ever see. It’s important to look good, to look professional, to look established. People are more likely to trust businesses that look like they are established and professional.
2. Keep customers informed. Web sites that have well-written, meaningful and current information are businesses that keep their customers informed. Knowledge is power. Empowering customers helps gain trust.
3. Publish positive comments. Self-promotion is weak, but the testimony of others is much stronger. Trust can be contagious. People trust those that others trust, especially if the ‘others’ are already trusted names or are in a position of already established trust. A business that publishes good testimonies has taken the first step to be placed in that circle of trust.
4. Be user friendly. Usability is a key factor in how people judge customer relations efforts. A strong user interface creates pleasant customer experiences. Customers that have good experiences will come back again. Ease-of-use is consistently one of the top reasons people revisit web sites. The more they visit, the greater they trust.
5. Be available. Customer dialogues should be encouraged, easy, frequent and open. Give full contact information, and give an open invitation to communicate. This is the old ‘open door policy’. People trust real people.
It’s an old cliché, but it’s true: trust doesn’t come easy. However, with a little hard work and persistence any web site can overcome many of the obstacles that block consumer trust.