The BizFilings blog covering business tips and trends.
Small Business and the Trust Factor
Published on Aug 24, 2011
Read our article, 'Small Business and the Trust Factor' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
Whether we’re talking about small business, or any facet of life, building trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. Without it, whatever we build will have integrity problems that will fail to stand the test of time.
We all know that trust begins with being honest. Embellishing a product can undermine trust, as can making a promise about our customer service that can’t be kept. These are tangible examples regarding trust. They’re even measurable.
But what about the more subtle ways of building trust or deconstructing it? Ones that aren’t as easy to spot, or to measure?
A good place to start answering these questions is to take a look at a real life example of how a business broke trust with one of their customers (me). While we’re at it, let’s look at the trust factor and how it relates to social media and the success of your small business.
Years ago, I bought an extended warranty for my Hewlett Packard (HP) laptop. When my laptop’s battery died, it was replaced with a third-party EXTERNAL battery that was heavy, ugly and didn’t quite give me the feeling that it was safe.
I inquired about why I didn’t receive an HP replacement battery — one that would reside within the computer like it was supposed to. I was informed that although my warranty included replacing a bad battery, it did not include an “apples-to-apples” replacement. This was the first time I was made aware of this “detail.”
How much less portable did my laptop just become?
In an instant, this business had lost my trust. Why? Because it was never spelled out that I would receive such a replacement part.
Here’s where those more subtle factors come into play when building trust. Was I lied to? The answer is yes, if you consider not being given all the facts a lie. At the very least, I was misled.
This same subtlety is present when it comes to social media. Using social media as a means to an end — in other words, to make a sale — is not going to build trust with potential or existing small business customers.
Viewing a blog post that isn’t interesting or relevant will not compel me to like or follow somebody, let alone make a purchase from them. Yes, a blog post may get more traffic if its SEO is good (a short-term accomplishment), but if you’re not delivering anything meaningful to me, you’ve just wasted my time. Not a good way to build trust.
If you’re not building trust within these social media connections, then you are failing to build your reputation. Even a well written and relevant blog post can hurt you if you hijack your customer with an unexpected sales pitch.
Let them love you. Let them depend on you. Let them trust you.
Use social media to give your customers something special — with no strings attached.
When they need your services or products, you will be top of mind — in essence you’ll make a “sale” without ever having to try to do so. It’s a very different philosophy, one that’s based on giving without expecting anything in return.
When you're cultivating and building trust, your customers do more than buy from you. They become brand loyal. AND they tell all their colleagues and friends about your small business ...