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Building Customer Trust + Loyalty
When times are tough, the door is opened for opportunity. And Trust + Loyalty are the key ways your brand—your business—can plow right through tough times. Some businesses leverage an economic downturn and actually turn it to their advantage. I'm not saying it's easy. And I'm not saying you can accomplish success overnight.
But what I WILL tell you is that having a solid brand strategy at the foundation of your business will help you succeed through lean times. That's because, at the end of the day, there are really only FOUR fundamental ways to grow your business:
Get more customers
Get your current customers to buy more
Get current customers to buy more frequently and for a longer period of time through loyalty
Get your current customers to buy different products and services from your business rather than jumping over to a competitor. This is typically done through upselling and cross-selling
So, how do you do it? By building trust and loyalty.
Corporate scandals, wildly inappropriate executive compensation, failing institutions, all are signs of eroding trust in the marketplace. But people want to trust the companies they patronize.
You can build trust by creating and offering something of genuine value. Be clear about what your product or service promises, and then, over-deliver on your promises. Another way to build trust is through testimonials of satisfied customers.
Finally, build trust through all your marketing and communications. Don't stretch the truth. This applies to sales presentations, press releases, advertising, business cards, social spaces, and websites. When this trust is inculcated in all you do and say, you've got a brand worth patronizing.
"Trust is probably the most basic human value," said Fred Rogers from the children's show, Mister Rogers Neighborhood.
Once your customers completely trust you, they'll become loyal followers. And that's exactly what you want because when the economy is suffering, products and services all begin to look like commodities. In other words, consumers get more price conscious and often opt for the low-price leader. That's why Walmart is weathers economic storms so well, while prestige brands scramble. And Walmart is no slouch at building trust and loyalty themselves. Shoppers automatically assume their prices really ARE lower.
One way to build loyalty is to practice extreme customer service. While customer service is a core expectation for all businesses, you can differentiate your business by bending over backwards for your customers and prospects.
Just as companies are deal with plummeting sales and sinking employee morale, customers demand more attention, better quality, and greater value for their money. The top performers in Business Week's third annual ranking of Customer Service Champs are treating their best customers better than ever. In fact, more than half of the top 25 brands of the more than 200 brands surveyed showed improved customer service scores over last year.
And Forrester reports that customer experience is closely tied to customer loyalty, and that the correlation between the two has increased since last year. The report measures loyalty by a customer’s willingness to repurchase from a company, reluctance to switch, and likelihood to recommend. Customer experience is measured by whether the company meets a customer’s needs, whether the company is easy to work with, and the enjoyability of a consumer’s interactions with the company
Remember, even small improvements in customer retention from trust and loyalty can increase the profits in your company.
As A New Brand World author, Scott Bedbury says, "All the money [or marketing] in the world can't buy you love and trust. You have to earn trust and love by how you behave over time."