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8 Ways to Build Customer Trust on the Internet


Guest post by Curtis Stevens.
Customer trust is crucial for any Internet based business to succeed. Unless you have a company with a big brand like Amazon, this can be quite challenging. If your products or services are expensive, this becomes even more important.

Unlike shopping at a retail store, an Internet business is a face-less environment. You do not have the instant credibility retail stores get by simply having a physical presence. It is hard for a customer to know if your business is legitimate or if it is run by some criminal sitting behind a computer in their house.

Your web site is the face of your company and is what they will use to build trust in your business. Here are 8 ways to help you do just that.

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1. Professional Web Design

One of the most important parts of any Internet business is the design of the web site. Would you go to a retail store that had a sign that was about to fall down, holes in the ceiling, horrible decor and paint colors and simply unimpressive? I would think not, so why have a web site that gives the same impression?

You do not need anything super fancy, but it does need to be professional, clean and good looking. Do a search online for web design companies and take a look at their own web sites. Are you impressed by them, does it make you feel like you are doing business with a professional company? This is the same feeling you need to give your own customers.

2. Company Branded Email

If you were going to do business with someone, which email would you feel more comfortable trusting? An email from their own domain name (sales@companyname.com) or a free email account like Gmail? Using a free email account tells the customer you are not running a serious business.

3. Customer Review Sites

A customer review site like BizRate is a great trust building tool. Sites like this allow customers to review companies they’ve done business with, telling others what they like and do not like about them. Potential consumers love to hear what others think.

4. Business Trust Programs

Becoming a part of a trust program like the BBB can play an important role, especially if your business provides a service vs a tangible product. Even though there are some people that personally think the BBB is worthless, it does not seem to be the overall consensus among society as a whole. I have customers call us all the time making a statement similar to, “I will only do business with someone that is a member of the BBB.”

5. Company Profile

You can build trust by introducing your customers to the people behind the company. Include traditional information such as history, why the company was founded and employee profiles if you have any. If you are a smaller outfit, do not worry about needing something lavish and impressive.

You could take a more personal approach by talking about yourself, why you started your business, what makes your company great and include a picture of yourself to tie it all together. A good example of this would be what these two companies have done, USAbrideweddings or My Wedding Favors.

6. Customer Contact

Having a contact page is probably as important as your about us page. Customers want to know if they need assistance they will be able to get a hold of you. It is best to provide your address, phone number, email addresses and a contact form for users that are not able to send email during their visit. Some companies do not display a phone number, but what do you think that says to the customer?

7. Testimonials

Having testimonials on your web site is another great trust indicator and is very similar to a customer review site. Having text only testimonials will only go so far as most people will question the authenticity for anyone can type up comments. One way around this would be to include a customer’s picture or their contact information, such as a phone number or web site address.

8. Awards & Community Involvement

It is easier for customers to trust companies that are a part of their community. There are a lot of ways your company can get involved. You can join the local chamber of commerce or any other local organization. If you were to win any type of award from such organizations, be sure to proudly display their badge or logo on your web site. The BBB is a great example of this as it has a lot of credibility tied to it.

Curtis Stevens is the founder of Gotmerchant.com, a credit card processing provider. Their web site has helpful resources such as free credit card logos to place on one’s web site and ecommerce tips through their blog.

Image by bogaaupc under CC license. You can also share your small business tips and join over 200 guest bloggers on QOT.

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