monitor your web site page view statistics or other reports related to your web
site activity, you may find that many people view your products, maybe even
stay around the site quite a while, possibly even add items to your shopping
cart, but don't complete the purchase. There can be many reasons for this,
including a confusing or unfriendly site, but one of the reasons will
undoubtedly be that your prospects didn't gain enough trust in your site,
products or business to complete their order.
They might have been nervous
about entering their personal or financial data into your systems. In fact,
these privacy issues and security issues are known to be major concerns of
So, what are some things you can
do to build more trust in your prospect's and customer's minds so they'll feel
more comfortable shopping at your online business?
Here are a few items to stimulate
your thinking about things you can do to help build trust and overcome shopper
reluctance and build their confidence that the Internet isn't as dangerous a
place as they may be feeling.
"Being There" Continuously
silly, but being on the web at all is a crucial first step - but how you're
there matters. Remember, your prospects and customers (and suppliers) are all
wanting to know how "real" you are. So everything you can do to enhance your
"real-ness" will go a long way. Some of that is discussed below, but another
trait that is paramount is persistence. Do you keep being there? Is the
site maintained? Do you answer your emails, phones and faxes? Do you do things
to keep putting yourself "there" in front of your prospects? It sounds naive
and silly to say, but you must stay in business - and look like it!
Oh, and, are you listed with all
the search engines? Does your company show up when someone searches for related
keywords, products or services you deliver? Better yet, does your listing show
up in the first page of the search results?
"Being there" also means being
where your prospects are. Are they on the search engines looking for someone
like you? Are they on specific niche sites where you can advertise or trade
links with the site owner?
Can They Contact You Easily?
Make it obvious how to find your contact information. Putting your physical
business address, phones, fax, email addresses for various departments and any
other contact facts will reassure them. After they use them, if they don't
trust you more than before, something's seriously wrong. They don't have to buy
from you to trust you, and buying from you doesn't mean they're not skeptical.
However, after they interact with you directly, they should trust you more.
The First, Best Customer
Reassurance is that credit card companies protect their cardholders
against fraudulent charges and from merchants that don't fulfill their orders.
They can request a refund from you directly, but if that fails they can contest
the charge with their bank and the system will go to work for them immediately.
You can find ways to remind your prospects of this on your shopping pages,
policy pages or payment pages.
Display Success Stories
from Happy Customers. This shows your prospects that others are happy
with you and your service. If you can display a letter from a prominent
customer, so much the better. Remember, small groups make bigger groups; small
crowds become bigger crowds. So, build a crowd.
Site Design Plays a Major Role in
Customer Trust. If your site design, graphics, layout, fonts,
navigation and other traditional web site elements look bad then your customers
will think you're a small, thoughtless company. Web users today have come to
expect a reasonable level of sophistication in web sites. Especially important
is the first page they see. This is their first impression of your business,
and on the web, it's crucial.
Make Sure Your Site's Content is
Fresh, Accurate and Alive. By itself, site design can only build so
much credibility. An over-designed site can actually kill sales. But the heart
of your online relationships with customers at your site lives in what you say
and how you say it.
Remember, your site is a living
thing. Change, improve, add and otherwise keep the site alive as often as
possible. A non-changing site may bring a repeat visitor back - once. In your
text, be enthusiastic about your company and it's products and be certain and
forthright. Admitting weaknesses in certain products emphasizes your honesty.
Provide quick overview content but give them the ability to view deep details
if they want.
Make sure obvious errors are
corrected instantly. Misspellings, typos, dead links, etc. If you're out of
stock of an item, say so.
Update your product or service
discussions. Add new products and promote the "New!" products in obvious places
on your most visited pages.
Remind Your Customers That
Shopping Online is as Safe as Giving Their Credit Card to a Restaurant,
where the staff can see the card.
Post Your Refund, Return and
Privacy Policies Prominently. Buying from someone you don't know and
can't see feels risky enough. Most shoppers want to know what to expect if
something goes wrong with their order. If they're uncomfortable with what can
happen after the sale, they're gone.
Display Emblems, Icons or Logos of
Your Site Partners. Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce
logos, the logo of the company providing site security for you, the logo or
Powered By badge from IntelliPay™, logos showing any awards you've won, credit
card graphics and many other items build trust by showing you're making use of
industry standard, or advanced, tools and processes. Be sure to honor all
copyright and trademark laws when displaying the names and other properties of
Emphasize That Their Data is Being
Transmitted Using Encryption for Security. If you're collecting any
personal or sensitive data from site visitors, be sure to get a secure site
certificate so you can serve secure pages. This will turn on the little lock or
key icon in their browser, the data they send will be encrypted, and they'll
know it. When collecting credit card numbers, you must collect that data
securely. If you can't, or don't want to go to the trouble of instituting your
own security, use a payment provider that will do it for you, such as
Encourage Users to Upgrade to the
Latest Browser Versions. Newer browsers support 128-bit encryption, the
highest level of encryption generally available, providing more secure
transactions for users. Provide links to the browser's update pages to make
this process easier for them.
Create an "About Us" Page.
This page will describe your company and it's goals, as well as communicate
stability and trust in other ways. Tell them how old your company is, show
pictures of the staff or physical facilities, show credentials of key staff,
Describe Your Shipping or
Fulfillment Policies in Detail.
Simply describe what they should expect from your company in filling their
order. Don't be misleading or uncertain. Tell them when you'll ship, how long
it will take, and what to do if it doesn't arrive when you say it will. Then be
absolutely certain that their order arrives before you told them it
would. Startle them at the fulfillment stage.
Emphasize and Deliver Top-Notch
Customer Support. Whatever support options you offer, make them obvious
on the site. When you or your staff are delivering support, remember that the
support interaction may be one of the only "in person" contacts you have with
that customer. It's a vital opportunity to impress, build satisfaction and
trust, ask for success letters and detect upsell possibilities. Don't waste it.
But above all, you must answer and handle their support needs - and that must
begin by listening, not talking.
Communication Builds Trust,
so the more you can communicate to and with your prospects and customers the
more they'll come to trust you and your company. Email newsletters, post-sale
follow-up mail, letters or calls, post-support surveys, and many other items
can, if not offensive, enhance trust and build sales.
Realistically Emphasize What Makes
Your Company or Products Unique. Don't try to be all things to all
people. Most shoppers are unimpressed with "universal" solutions. They're more
likely to trust a specialist or someone with the appearance or reputation as
"the" solution. You must know what differentiates you, tell people what that is
in a memorable way, and it must be realistic to them.
By no means is this a definitive
treatment of trust building. Each of the suggestions above can, and have, been
the subject of study by many authors for years. There are as many ways to build
trust as there are people and you must find the combinations of actions that
are appropriate for your company, products and goals.
Failing to build enough trust has
only one sad result.
Building trust, even slowly,
opens up the future.