Trust is critical to a good relationship with your customers. After all, they’re handing over their hard-earned money to you and your business, and they expect something of value in return.
But customer trust isn’t just about the transaction—it’s built over time with give and take from both the business and the customer. If you invest in your customer’s success, they’ll invest in you through repeat business and word-of-mouth marketing.
Building customer trust isn’t difficult, but like all long-term relationships, it doesn’t happen overnight—it takes a little time and investment across the whole customer experience.
Tell your story
A great way to start to build customer relationships is by talking openly about who you are and how you became a business owner. People love a good origin story, and the way you tell yours shows your passion for your business and—in turn—for your customers. When writing your business description, share your background details as if you were talking to a friend or family member—let it come naturally and unleash your inner storyteller.
Doggy Downtime in Denver details how it got started on its Yelp Page:
“Established in 2010. I first launched Doggy Downtime in my Connecticut hometown shortly after the birth of my daughter. After moving to Denver in 2012, I apprenticed a nationally certified master groomer and worked in a high volume grooming salon for a few years before deciding to relaunch Doggy Downtime in Denver. I gained a certification in pet reiki and began to offer a unique grooming experience where a calm, quiet environment and a relaxing experience, not only for the dogs but myself as well, was of the utmost importance. The knowledge, experience, and friends (both two legged and four) I have gained from working with pets and their loving owners continues to be an extremely valuable part of my life and wellbeing.”
Ruby Jean’s Kitchen & Juicery in Kansas City, Missouri also tells its story on Yelp:
“Established in 2015. Named after the owner’s grandmother: As the matriarch and glue of her family, Ruby Jean showed her love for her family through her culinary skills. Unfortunately, the types of food and cooking styles familiar to her had a tendency to lend themselves to causing health complications such as hypertension and diabetes. These were two of the issues Ruby Jean herself was faced with, and that ultimately contributed to her untimely passing at the age of 61. From this, the idea for Ruby Jean’s Juicery was born. It is our goal to spread knowledge about better ways to care for our bodies so that all of our years can be healthy, happy and enjoyable. We at Ruby Jean’s possess a purpose driven passion for exploring the world of healthy living and equipping our guests with the tools that can contribute to longer healthier lives.”
Social media is also a great venue for this kind of storytelling as it allows you to display behind-the-scenes photos and videos that illustrate your history and help you connect with your customer base.
Keep your business information accurate and discoverable
At the bare minimum, customers need to be able to find basic information about your business online. This is the first step in building trust, so it’s important to make sure all of your business information—operating hours, services offered, pricing, next steps, etc.—is accurate across all of your digital media platforms. Make sure you update your business information on your Yelp Page, business website, social media platforms, Google My Business account, and other platforms so everything is up-to-date, accurate, and consistent.
“It’s all about triangulation,” said Carlos Rodriguez, president and CEO of Mr. Roofing in San Francisco. “Imagine your customer is going to find information about your business online after receiving a referral from a friend. They’re going to be looking for reinforcing information that your business is their best choice. If they see your business through your website, Instagram page, and Yelp Page, you want those representations of your business to be accurate and consistent across the board. That starts with complete profiles and accurate information.”
Offer great customer service
This seems like an obvious way to build trust, but customer service is one of the most important ways to create a lasting relationship with your customers. Deliver on your promises, and provide the resources and information your customer needs. Every engagement with your customer should be memorable—from the first time they are greeted when they walk in the door to a heartfelt “thank you for your business” printed on an invoice or receipt. Happy and loyal customers create free word-of-mouth marketing through their recommendations—plus customer retention increases with each satisfied patron.
“There are multiple touch points through which potential customers will learn about your business before choosing who to spend their money with,” said Shawn Walchef, owner of Cali Comfort BBQ in Spring Valley, California. “How you treat them during that journey and what you do to wow them and leave them with a memorable experience impacts them sharing that experience with others.”
Photo from Cali Comfort BBQ on Yelp
Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself—not every job goes perfectly, so in the event you can’t deliver exactly as anticipated, be proactive and transparent about what happened and the steps you’re taking to resolve the situation and do better next time.
Communicate clearly and consistently
The key to a long-lasting relationship of any kind is communication. This goes for the relationship with your customers as well—delivering important messages with a clear call to action sets expectations. Your messaging should be concise and packed with information that is relevant and interesting for your audience. Avoid using too much jargon or abbreviations that are common to your craft but aren’t widely known outside your business. You may be seen as an expert by those in your field, but consumers might not understand what you’re talking about.
It’s also important to keep your online presence up to date and your communication efforts active to ensure success. For your social media accounts, consider creating a schedule or plan for regular posting and sharing of information about your business or industry.
Repeating this key information in multiple places is a good practice. People often need to see something multiple times before they take notice and absorb the information. Continuing to call out your business procedures or directing to an FAQ page will help your customers adjust their expectations to align with your established processes.
Display relevant certifications, licenses, and insurance
If you have a business with specific licensing, insurance, or other certifications, display them everywhere you market your business for an extra level of customer trust. For example, you can use Yelp’s Verified License feature to showcase your business certifications. The Verified License badge appears next to your business name in search results and on your Yelp Business Page. Potential customers can also click on the badge to view the details of your license.
If this isn’t relevant to your business, you can still assert your professional expertise through blog posts, video, online events, or other content that educate and update people on what’s new in your industry as a whole or with your business in particular.
Respond to reviews and feedback
Be sure to respond to all feedback—good and critical. A simple thank you may sometimes suffice or perhaps you’d like to extend more context or an apology to a customer who had a less-than-ideal experience. It may seem counterintuitive to respond to negative customer reviews, but it’s a great way to let your customers know you’re listening and paying attention to their needs.
It takes effort to post an online review or critique, meaning those customers went out of their way to provide their thoughts. Responding to that feedback in a positive and engaging way shows that you care and are listening. Treating constructive feedback as a gift (even if it hurts) creates trust not only with existing customers but also boosts your online reputation with future customers who come along later and see the exchange.
If you need help figuring out how to reply to both positive and negative feedback, check out these dos and don’ts for responding to reviews.
In the end, earning a customer’s trust comes down to one essential theme—communication. Give them the information they need up front, be as transparent as possible in your communication, and make sure to respond quickly to any of their questions or concerns. Once you earn customer trust, the customer loyalty will follow.
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The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.