As a business owner, you know that establishing trust with clients is critical to conducting business and maintaining loyalty. Today consumers are more skeptical than ever and demand accountability and transparency from companies with whom they do business. This trust is easily broken and difficult to repair. Additionally, the severity and response time after a transgression have a strong effect on the willingness of a consumer to forgive. (1)
Broken trust, whether small or large in scale, should be treated with the same level of seriousness. With social media’s broad reach, a single dissatisfied customer can have an equal or greater impact as a failed event that sold over 500 tickets. As such, decisive action and quick response after every negative brand response can prevent a full-scale crisis and potentially save your business. Here are four simple steps to regaining brand trust.
1. Address the Issue
Address the issues that breached your consumer’s trust, preferably face-to-face or on the phone, as many times as needed in order to smooth over the problem. No matter how unreasonable the customer seems, remember the old adage that the customer is always right. Be empathetic, apologize for the transgression, and assure them that you understand there is a problem which you are actively working to fix. Offer a refund, and consider providing a free product or service for good measure. Finally, it is crucial that you express the measures your brand is taking to limit re-occurrences of the issue.
2. Be Transparent
Consumers can easily tell when you are being upfront with them or if you are hiding the truth. Use your social media channels to address every publicly made complaint. Your response should be swift, honest, apologetic, and offer a solution to the complaint. Many businesses fail to respond to consumers’ negative responses, leaving them in a bad light. Conversely, customers who receive a quick and open response are likely to recommend the company with whom they interacted.
3. Control the Message
When a full-blown crisis occurs, it is crucial to immediately minimize damage and control the public’s response to the event. Do not underestimate the power of social media and how it can undermine your business. You should, therefore, put necessary measures in place to protect your brand and retain your hard earned clients. In order to prevent people from gaining misinformation from outside parties, set up a system to allow consumers to get updates on next steps and contact you quickly. This will demonstrate your interest in their consumer’s well-being.
4. Rebuild Customer Trust Using an Influencer
Influencers are valuable to a brand as a positive social media voice amidst the inevitable gripes. Over 90% of consumers report trusting recommendations over branded content. Influencers are seen as more trustworthy than traditional advertising and can help build trust in your brand. (2) The influencer can be a public figure who will alleviate negative claims and aid in regaining trust. People will look up to the influencer as a strong brand endorsement. As such, they are helpful after a crisis in emphasizing the previous successes and reliability of your brand.
After a crisis, an influencer will be additionally useful in rebranding your business. One such rebrand will be a change in company policy towards something other than profits. They can assist in getting out a PR campaign to service customer ideas.
Whether addressing daily complaints from customers or limiting the effects of a full-blown crisis, it is important to keep your cool and stay customer-focused. Address quickly in a conciliatory manner that offers an apology and a solution. Be transparent with your customers, and they will respond with loyalty and trust.
(1) Tsarenko, Y., & Tojib, D. (2015). Consumers’ forgiveness after brand transgression: the effect of the firm’s corporate social responsibility and response. Journal of Marketing Management, 31(17-18), 1851-1877. doi:10.1080/0267257x.2015.1069373
(2) Morrison, K. Why influencer marketing is the new content king. (April 3, 2015). Retrieved November 16, 2017 from http://www.adweek.com/digital/why-influencer-marketing-is-the-new-content-king-infographic/
Photo Credit: http://www.bandt.com.au/marketing/study-83-consumers-rate-transparency-ethical-behaviour-greatest-trust-builders