Building brand trust is crucial for retailers as the marketplace becomes increasingly crowded and consumers become increasingly savvy. While trust is often hard won, it is very easily lost.
Customers need regular reassurance that their favorite brands are worthy of their loyalty and spending. This means different things for different consumers, but there are some key ways retailers can gain and retain their customers' trust. Here are some tried-and-tested methods to make your brand more trustworthy and build stronger connections with your customers.
Loyalty is often born out of familiarity, and this maxim holds true for brands as well. By creating a consistent experience each time a customer comes into the store, you are building a foundation for familiarity. For retailers who operate multiple locations, this goal can be difficult—but definitely not impossible—to achieve.
Take Starbucks for example, which prides itself on the consistency of its products and brand experience. No matter where in the world you are, when you walk into a Starbucks, you know exactly what to expect: from the signage, to the purchase process, to the product. The coffee giant also creates a consistent look and feel across their online channels, so the feeling of familiarity continues from the offline world to users' mobile experiences. Omnichannel marketing strategies enable retailers to provide a unified brand story and engage with customers consistently across both online and offline realms.
In their study on customer satisfaction, Vision Critical found that it only takes two unpleasant shopping experiences for 42% of Americans to stop shopping with a brand. And after a terrible customer service experience, 79% of customers will start shopping at a competitor within a week. Brands can avoid these situations by ensuring that their sales personnel are well-trained and knowledgeable about the products they’re selling, as well as personable and approachable with customers.
But customer service doesn’t just happen in-store anymore, and brands also need to consider the online shopping experience. Is your website easy to navigate? Can your customers find the product information they need? If not, can they reach a customer service representative to ask for help through the company's website or social media channels?
It’s more important than ever that brands be accessible to their customers—especially through social media, where prompt responses are now the norm. Twitter reported that in 2015 its users sent over 100,000 questions, complaints, and comments to major airlines each month. Replying to customers on Twitter was also found to drive higher customer satisfaction than other customer service channels.
There are hundreds of emotional motivators that can drive strong brand connections, and for most brands, finding the right ones is a matter of knowing your customers well. For apparel retailers, whose customers often seek a sense of belonging, emotional connections can be encouraged through personalized alerts on the brand website, or by using advertising imagery that features relatable models. Testimonials, used in-store on digital signage, or online, can also be a useful tool to create connections and a sense of community for a brand.
While a consistent shopping experience, excellent customer service, and an emotional connection will all have an enormous impact on consumer loyalty, the main driver behind brand trust is customer engagement. An engaged customer is someone who actively interacts with a brand and uses it to reflect aspects of their personal identity. These customers are five times more likely to buy exclusively from their chosen brand.
When trying to build trust with your consumers, consider how consistency, familiarity and friendliness across all channels can help customers know exactly what to expect regardless of their preferred shopping methods. Whether you're communicating in person, on your e-commerce site, or via social media, you will be building an emotional connection to your brand that pays off long-term.
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