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The Trust Game: How Brands Gain Customers’ Trust

Dec 30, 2019 | 11m

Gain Actionable Insights Into:

  • The factors that you need to consider in your customers' journey so as to build trust
  • Winning your customers' trust and retaining their loyalty
  • Why it is important to establish your customers' trust


Building Trust Throughout Your Customer Journey

Building brand trust is easier said than done. Trust requires a lot of time and effort to develop, yet it’s so easy to tear down. Be patient and farsighted when measuring your efforts – don’t measure trust with the usual time frame of a typical quarterly timespan.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to building trust. Choosing to cut corners might come back to haunt you with irreversible consequences, that could end up being a lot more inconvenient than the original problem. For example, giving a half-hearted response to a complaint on Facebook could backfire and snowball into a crisis. Trust is built over years of dedication and commitment.

The customer journey starts from the very first interaction that the customer has with your brand and company. And you build that trust by getting to know the customer before you go ahead with your sales pitch. But even before you have that first interaction, you need to plan your communication strategies for every stage of the customer journey.

You can begin preparing by selecting the right communication tool regardless of the prospective customer’s level of awareness, maturity, and probability of conversion. In the end, whether your customer chooses to interact with you is not within your reach, but preparation sets you up for success.

Benefits of a Customer’s Trust

Establishing trust with your customers will make them more likely to refer your business and its offerings to other new customers. And word-of-mouth is an incredibly effective way of spreading awareness for your company. There is also an inclination for these new customers who were referred to your business via their relatives and friends, to trust in your business as much as they trust their referrer. This is one of the healthiest form possible of organic growth since it comes at a low customer acquisition cost.

Also, when your company isn’t faring too well, customers who placed their trust in you have a higher likelihood of sticking with you. This is important as it won't always be smooth sailing in the market and global economy. A customer that trusts in you is a customer that worries less and supports your business in spite of difficult times.

Know Your Brand

Before you work on your communication strategies, it is important to understand your brand, what it stands for, and its positioning within the market. With these elements, you’ll be able to succeed in finding the right tone of voice and visual imagery to connect with your target customers. By connecting with them, it forms a cornerstone for you to establish trust.

When communicating with your customers, it is important to be coherent across the different stages of the customer journey. Coherence means using a tone of voice and visual imagery that is aligned with the brand guidelines. By being coherent, your brand positioning is clear and purposeful. Any ambiguity is a barrier that obstructs trust from developing.

Understand Your Customer & Media

Finding the right target audience to commit your efforts, and finding the right medium to reach out to them is crucial. Building trust is a long-term and resource-intensive commitment, which you don’t want to waste.

It is not unusual for both your brand positioning and target customer to alter over time. When you realise that your target customer isn’t the most ideal, you should target a different audience until you attract the kind of people that respond well to your brand positioning.

These days, businesses are expected to offer their services on various platforms and media. As a brand, the challenge is to adapt to the customer’s chosen medium and yet remain coherent. To fully utilise the medium’s full capabilities, you’ll have to understand and be familiar with its features, like a push notification to the user's phone, or an out of home campaign at the train station. And it's not easy to familiarise yourself with a tool because, for example, radio messages have some things that are native to the radio medium and unless you’re familiar with the tool, you might struggle to get a grasp of the medium’s inner workings.

When I was asked to conduct some courses for aspiring journalists, I showed them how The Washington Post adapts one single piece of news across its different channels. For its coverage of the leap year news, they delivered it in 19 different languages: a language for each platform. Regardless of the language, The Washington Post still managed to retain coherence in the brand positioning.

There are so many ways to reach out to your target customer that it’s easy to be spoilt for choice. Should you advertise by sending out newsletters? Pay for a radio segment or screen an advertisement at a cinema? The choices are endless. Regardless of your choice, you’ll need to touch the hearts of your customers or send some kind of message at some point of their customer journey for you to effectively build customer’s trust.

Soft Sell Over Hard Sell

How do you raise awareness of your product? If you are too aggressive, you run the risk of scaring off your customers and losing any chance of them trusting in you. The art of soft selling starts off by stirring interest in your product through subtle persuasion. By doing so, you’re likely to increase trust between you and the customer, which would translate to better conversion rates.

Don't rush to sell, instead show genuinity in helping your customers to mature their own point of view on the subject. You can motivate them with a push or a pull strategy. Either by painting a rosy picture and inviting them to join you (pull towards pleasure) or by highlighting issues and problems and asking them to move far from them (push away from pain).

Since you are giving the customer what they need, they are the ones buying from you, rather than you selling to them – this changes the game completely. By being patient about closing the sale, you create demand from your customers and both of you profit from the transaction. And this helps the relationship and trust between you and the customer to blossom. In turn, these customers are less likely to churn.

At StashAway, we run sequence ads to a carefully chosen demographic on different social networks that highlight why they should start thinking about their retirement early. Then we link those ads to blog articles, not to a sign-up page. So we plant the seed of curiosity towards a better retirement, and at the same time, we want them to start reasoning on the risk of delaying the decision to start saving and investing money.

With all your effort in building goodwill, it’s time to shift gears and show why you are the best solution provider. You can be explicit and explain how you are better than your competitors. If you did a good job at building customer’s trust, you can be assured that they would choose to do business with you.

Put a Face to the Brand Name

Having an identifiable figurehead or a face associated with the brand, makes it easier to build trust with customers as it humanises the brand. Preferably, the face of the company should be the owner, or a top level executive. Be it events, seminars, webinars, or videologs, this person should appear and connect with the customers as much as possible.

If you’re the face of the company, try to invite your customers to witness your expertise in person. This is even more relevant for high-consideration products, like the ones in the financial services and insurance world, in which the time for your customer to make a decision could extend for several weeks or even months.

In bigger companies, the top management tends to be detached but this shouldn’t be the case. Even if you’re unable to meet your customers in person, you could connect with them via videos and recordings of you. You could even record yourself answering frequently asked questions, as there’s no one more qualified to answer their burning questions about the company than the owner himself.

Additionally, do have constant engagement with your customers. As a company, you want to be relevant and to stay at the top of your customers’ minds. By sending out informative newsletters to their emails or hosting free events, you’ll showcase your knowledge on the topic and prove your credibility at the same time.

With this in mind, we launched Academy where we have free events every week in a classroom setting, as well as webinars. After these classes, we cater sufficient time for engagement with the attendees. Based on my experience, I realised that people love to interact with us during and after these classes, so having that personal touch and face-to-face connection with your customer makes a big difference.

Using Data to Retain Customers

There’s no better way to retain your customers’ business than by establishing trust. But even after you’ve formed a certain level of trust with them, you still need to manage the relationship and focus on retention, especially if your business operates with a subscription-based model. If you do have data on your customers, make sure to utilise them to your advantage. Leverage on them to run Customer Relationship Management (CRM) campaigns that are highly customised towards your customers.

For example, if the customer’s data and profile has met certain criteria, you could proactively reach out to the customer with email and push messages that are specially crafted to resonate with the customer.

With data, you could also gather your customers’ Net Promoter Score (NPS) and feedback. From the NPS, we are able to closely monitor the trend in referral invitation in order to gauge the sentiment of our users and see if we are succeeding in developing more informed customers who trust us with their money.

It’s natural for customers to have second thoughts after buying your product. Known as buyer’s remorse, it usually happens with the purchase of an expensive item. So we try to help them cope with their emotional volatility. But how could you track down all of the customers that show discrepancies in their behaviour? With technology, you could automatically flag out customers who display tell-tale signs.

At StashAway, we have implemented systems that automatically trigger our CRM and outreach strategies when customers begin displaying uncharacteristic behaviours. For example, if they start showing a lack of confidence by opening the app way too often or when the customer’s financial portfolio is volatile.

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Filippo Stefanelli





Consumer Behavior