How to Build Customer Trust:

What the Data Says

Written by Rebekah Moss 27 Aug 2020 - 3 Minutes reading time

Would you hand your credit card details over to any Jane Bloggs on the street? Probably not.

If you were looking to buy a new tablet, would you opt for the established, credible brand or the new kid on the block? It’s more likely that you’d go with the credible brand, right?

The thing is, there needs to be a high level of trust for consumers to part with their sensitive information or hard-earned cash. When it comes to e-commerce even more so, as there’s so much fakery on the Internet.

To put it simply, in e-commerce, no trust equals no sales.

Perhaps you’re a smart entrepreneur that’s looking to pivot your business. Or maybe you have an established e-commerce shop and want to keep building trust in order to attract new customers and increase customer loyalty.

Whatever your reasons, this guide will show you exactly what you need to do in order to build trust with online customers according to data.

Why Is It Important to Build Trust with Customers?

Trust is a major factor for consumers when choosing which brands to buy from. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 81% of consumers say their ability to trust a brand to do what is right is a deal-breaker or deciding-factor in their brand buying decision:

Brand Trust Ranks

As you can see, this is the top attribute that is brand-related rather than product-related. But, what exactly does the statement “I must be able to trust the brand to do what is right,” mean?

The same report highlights the fact that consumers want brands to do what is right in terms of their product experience, customer experience and the brand’s impact on society.

These elements are cause for concern:

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62% have product-oriented concerns, e.g. they can’t afford to buy a shoddy product.

55% have customer-oriented concerns, e.g. they don’t want brands to misuse their personal data.

69% have social-oriented concerns, e.g. they want to buy from brands that care about what they care about.

If the majority of consumers need to trust that a brand does ‘the right thing’ in order for them to make a purchase decision, then they no doubt buy from brands that address the concerns mentioned above.

The Edelman report also shows that consumers place more importance on trust than having the next big thing or what’s in vogue. 66% say they would stick with their preferred brand over choosing a new brand that’s more innovative or technologically-advanced. Moreover, 75% value trust above trendiness.

This is surprising given the ubiquity of social media and influencer culture in modern society. But, it goes to show that most consumers aren’t naive. They’re savvy, they do their research and more often than not they’ll choose a brand they see as trustworthy or reliable.

Now you know how important trust is to the consumer, let’s look at how you can work on building that trust.

1. Provide a Positive Customer Experience

Research from Eptica shows the top two factors that make consumers trust a brand are related to customer experience (CX):

What makes you trust a brand?

63% of consumers say a seamless experience throughout makes them trust a brand and 59% require quick, satisfactory customer service.

By creating a positive experience in this way, you show that you value your customers above making a profit, which, of course, is a trustworthy quality to have as a brand.

Plus, you can anticipate and work on points in the customer journey where trust may be lost. For instance, if you fail to resolve a customer’s problem they may lose faith in your brand.

Here are some steps you can take to improve the customer experience:

Simplify Processes

Make your site easy to navigate and products easy to find through clear and logical categorisation. Streamline the checkout experience by limiting the amount of information customers must enter and displaying options such as shipping and payment methods clearly.

Act on Customer Feedback

Get to know your customers, engage with them on social media. Listen to their feedback and use it to make the customer experience better from purchase to communications to delivery etc.

Be Available

Be available to respond to customers on multiple channels. Display your contact information clearly. You may wish to consider using a customer service chatbot to handle repeat queries speedily while directing customers to a real person when their request needs a human touch.

If you do everything you can for the customer at each touchpoint, they will trust your brand.

2. Use Authentic Social Proof

Social proof is vital in e-commerce. In case you need a reminder, social proof is the idea that people will follow the actions or opinions of others like them or people they see as credible, e.g. family and friends or experts.

So, it encompasses things like testimonials and reviews, expert endorsements, data, such as the number of customers you’ve served, and so on. Research from SurveyMonkey shows that 82% of people trust the voice of customers over messaging from your brand.

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Consumers are wise to marketing ploys and sales pitches. According to SurveyMonkey, “They trust recommendations from their friends and family, customer reviews on third-party sites, and testimonials on your brand site–in that order.”

But, they’re also wary of social proof that seems too good to be true. SurveyMonkey also found that 74% of people think a product with lots of 4-star reviews is better than one with just a few 5-star reviews:

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What this ultimately means is that you have to make sure social proof, reviews and ratings especially, appear authentic. One way to do this is to source and display reviews, ratings and testimonials from a wide range of customers, not just those who are most loyal to your brand.

It’s also a good idea to showcase reviews from people that represent your target audience, in terms of their demographics, interests, the language they use and so on. Your potential customers will automatically see reviews from people like them as more trustworthy because of social proof.

All in all, social proof can be mighty persuasive but only if it seems legit.

3. Focus on Building Relationships

As we’ve already seen, consumers expect more from brands these days. The special COVID-19 edition of The CMO Survey highlights the importance of trusting relationships between customers and brands:

Customer top priorities over the next 12 months (percentage of respondants reporting first priority

29.3% of top marketers say a trusting relationship is their customers’ first priority, way above low price (18.4%). This statistic has risen by around 2% since the beginning of the pandemic, and by around 9% since 2009 when low price was customers’ main priority. The point is, trusting relationships are more important now than ever.

Nowadays, consumers don’t want brands to be a faceless entity they buy stuff from. They need to be able to form a genuine connection.

With this in mind, what can you do to build better relationships with your customers?

Align Your Messaging with their Values

According to the Havas Group,77% of consumers buy from brands that share their values. What does your customer base care about? The environment? Mindfulness? Being a good parent? If your standpoint or the way you do business aligns with customer values, tell your customers about it.

Engage Customers

Communications should be about more than just making a sale. Create useful content that helps your target audience solve their pain points. Join in conversations about your brand, products or industry on social media. Send personalised emails, for example wishing them a happy birthday.

Reward Loyalty

Thank customers for shopping with you to show that you appreciate them. Create a loyalty programme or reward repeat customers with a discount. This proves to customers that maintaining a relationship with your brand is worthwhile.

If you can make customer interactions more meaningful, and not just simply transactional, you’ll be able to build long-lasting, trusting relationships.

4. Make Checking Out Simple and Secure

The greatest level of trust is required at the point of purchase. The last thing you want is for a potential customer to be put off at the last minute and abandon their cart.

Here are the top reasons why customers abandon their carts in 2020, according to a study from the Baymard Institute:

Reasons for Cart Abandonment

The number one reason is unexpected additional costs at the checkout (50%). If you’re not able to remove additional costs, then be transparent about them at other points in the buyer journey. Transparency goes a long way towards building consumer trust in e-commerce. Consumers also abandon their carts when the site wants them to create an account (28%) or the checkout process is too long/complicated (21%).

As the Edelman Trust Barometer indicates, consumers are concerned about what brands do with their personal data. So, perhaps they don’t want to input lots of information into a form or create an account where their details are kept on file.

Thus, to increase trust, you should keep the amount of data you ask for to a minimum. You may even want to allow visitors to make purchases as a guest. In other words, make the process simple and easy, and give potential customers options so that they feel in control.

Furthermore, the fact that consumers don’t trust sites with their credit card information remains a top reason for cart abandonment (17%). So, you must ensure that your checkout is secure and prove as much to customers. The best way to do this is to use [a secure payment gateway] (https://www.totalprocessing.com/blog/payment-gateways-explained-everything-you-need-to-know-in-2019) and display trust seals, which we’ll delve into in a moment.

Essentially, a simple, secure checkout removes any final barriers that prevent potential customers from making a purchase.

5. Add Familiar Trust Seals

When you use familiar trust seals on your site, the trust people have for those third parties passes onto you. A CXL study found that certain trust seals “add a lot of security” according to online shoppers:

Dark Blue adds very little security. Blue adds a little security. Pale blues adds a lot of security

The three seals perceived to add the most security are PayPal (63%), Norton (49%) and VeriSign (48%).

There are different types of seals or badges you can use to increase customer trust:

Accepted Payment Badges

Share which payment methods you accept in the form of recognisable brand logos. In this way, you acquire the trust of these well-known brands. Examples are Visa, PayPal, and Apple Pay.

Note that the inclusion of digital/mobile wallets like PayPal, Apple, Google etc. these days is vital, as they are amongst the most popular e-commerce payment methods (41.8%):

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Security Certifications

Use these to indicate that the site and checkout are secure, i.e. any information that users submit will be encrypted and therefore, the online shop complies with regulations. Examples include Norton, Symantec and TRUSTe.

Third-Party Endorsements

You usually have to go through an application and review process to get these seals, so they act as a major trust signal. Examples are BBB, Google and Amazon.

Offers and Guarantees

Make a pledge to potential customers using this type of badge, e.g. “Money-back guarantee” or “Free returns”. This gives customers peace of mind.

By using one or more of these badges you provide solid proof that your online shop is trustworthy and therefore, encourage visitors to complete their purchases.

Summing Up

When deciding whether to make a purchase online, a major consideration for the average consumer is whether they trust a site or not. The data shows that, ultimately, consumers buy from brands they trust.

Research also indicates that:

Positive customer experience leads to greater levels of trust.

Authentic social proof is more trustworthy than what a company claims.

A trusting relationship is more important to consumers than a low price point.

A simple and secure checkout will lead to fewer abandoned carts.

Trust seals contribute significantly to how secure a site is perceived to be.

Now it’s over to you to make use of these insights. The first step, find and fix points in the customer journey where you may be losing customer trust.

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