Did you know 54% of customers say it's harder than ever for a company to earn their trust? In October 2019, we surveyed consumers to find out what they look for in the small businesses they support and what business owners can do to earn their trust.
In some ways, it’s easier for small- or medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to build strong customer relationships. Their smaller customer base gives them the opportunity to provide better customer service and more memorable experiences — all things that help foster customer loyalty.
So what characteristics are a must-have for businesses to foster loyalty? Our survey revealed several important ones consumers associate with trust.
Ninety percent of SMB leaders value trust above all else with their customers, and honesty is the first step to establishing that trust. Honesty is more than being truthful to customers. It means sticking to your word, being transparent in all things involving your product and service, and admitting when business challenges may affect the customer experience.
An example is how an honest business may act when its product or service system is down. In this case, it’s better to update customers on the outage, rather than to keep them guessing.
Think of it this way: if you were working with a real estate agent, wouldn’t you want them to be upfront with you about any aspects of a house that might need work?
Companies that collect customer data — i.e. most companies — need to protect that data carefully. According to Vistage Research, only 57% of SMBs don’t have an up-to-date or active cybersecurity strategy. Using spreadsheets and sticky notes to track customer data not only puts your organization at risk of losing data, even worse, it can also lead to misplaced, deleted, or even compromised customer data. Do your business a favor and learn how to keep your data — and your customers’ data — secure.
Privacy goes hand-in-hand with security. According to our State of the Connected Customer Report, 63% of customers say most companies fail to use their data transparently, and 54% believe most companies don't use their data in a way that benefits them. Small businesses that collect any kind of data from their customers must ensure that data remains private and that it’s only used for the customers’ benefit.
Reliability dovetails with customer experiences. It means having your customers’ back in the worst scenarios, believing in their experiences, and always following through on your commitments. Showcasing reliability can be as simple as a cafe owner greeting every customer with a warm smile every single day.
Customers need to be able to anticipate things like the cost of goods and services they buy from you. That’s what transparency means in this case. Don’t make customers go into an interaction blindly. And when you’re transparent regularly over a long period of time, you further demonstrate reliability, too.
Demonstrate your business is committed to doing the right thing. Don’t worry, you can start small. Simply charging people fair prices and paying your team fair wages demonstrates you’re running an ethical company. But even small companies can demonstrate their values by using their business as a platform for change.
All in all, trust from customers is earned along several dimensions at once and over a period of time. Looking for more insights on how small businesses can earn customer love? Check out our full infographic.
Salesforce can help you find customers, win their business, and keep them happy so you can grow faster than ever. Learn more about our small business CRM solutions, follow us on Twitter at @Essentials, or keep up with us on LinkedIn at Salesforce for Small Business. Join the conversation using #SMBTrailblazer.