Many online businesses have suffered significant losses as a direct result of the pandemic. Nonetheless, many have also seen an unprecedented spike in sales, as consumers who had never even considered ordering online in the past were left with no choice but to turn to e-commerce businesses for basic necessities.
The online market has never been more saturated with consumers, but the competition has also never been tougher. To stand out from the crowd, creating a trusting relationship with your customer base has become more important than ever.
The specifics of how to build trust online can vary from industry to industry. However, there are certain basics that apply to all companies, large and small. Here are some of the essential components of creating a trusting relationship with your customer base.
Appeal to first-time customers
2020 forced many people who wouldn’t normally consider shopping online to turn to e-commerce businesses for everything from food to medicine. But it's important to note that first-time users may be sceptical about ordering online with your company. Because of this, an online company has a duty to its visitors to put them at ease by reassuring them of their quality, legitimacy, and accessibility.
Have an ‘About Us’ page to tell the story of who you are, where you came from, and what you do. Include any certifications or awards that your company possesses to solidify your reputation as a quality business.
Make yourself accessible
Customer service is just as imperative to an online business as it is to any physical store; in many ways, it’s even more important. Have a ‘Contact Us’ page on your website, including your address, phone number, contact email, and social media links, so your customers can contact you through whichever medium is preferable to them. It also adds a layer of confidence when customers can see you have a physical address and are easy to contact.
Ensure your customers know that you are on hand to help them. Keep your business hours updated online, and make sure that there is someone available to answer phone calls, emails, and enquiries on social media during business hours. This will help your consumers to have faith that you are always there to assist them when they require it.
Stay active on social media
Social media isn’t just about advertising your latest discounts, it’s about crafting a hub for your customers to communicate with you and each other. This helps to create a real sense of community, which builds a familial feel and increases brand loyalty.
Regularly share updates, news articles that are relevant to your industry, and blog posts from your website. All these things can help to generate a discussion amongst your core audience. It also allows you to interact with and build a rapport with customers. Ask your customers for their opinion on things, too, using polls and surveys.
Automating Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts is an excellent way to strategize your social media, but you should still make sure that someone is monitoring your sites for comments and messages. Don’t take days to reply to people – the sooner you can respond to queries, the more reassured the customer will feel.
Don’t make it too complicated
Online businesses should make it a priority to regularly review their platforms to see what could be made simpler. Customers will not hesitate to abort their shopping cart if they are faced with an overly-complicated checkout process. Don’t make your website look flashy just for the sake of it; every video, image, or piece of text should be there for a reason.
Check and double-check that all aspects of your website are reactive to mobile users, so people can shop with you whether they are at home on their computer or on-the-go on a mobile device.
A regular review of your platforms means that you can analyse where customers may be clicking off your site during the order process, which pages they visit the most, and so on. This allows you to hone your online offering to appeal to their interests and requirements, creating trust and ease of use.
Ask for your customers’ opinions
Reviewing your platforms as a company is important, but to build trust with your target market, it’s just as essential that you get their feedback too. Invite those who have ordered with you to give feedback on their experience, from the customer service they received to the checkout experience. No detail is too small when it comes to refining your offering.
Actively asking your customers to provide feedback on their shopping experience, and how it could be improved, demonstrates that you appreciate them as more than faceless shoppers. In showing that you care about customer satisfaction, and you are eager to make each experience better than the last, your customers will be more inclined to return to your site rather than shopping around.
The best time to ask for a review is immediately after a customer experiences your product or services, so consider including a link within your confirmation email to a feedback form.
It's also worth noting that feedback from first-time customers is particularly useful. What was it that appealed to them about ordering from you? How did they find the process of buying from your site for the first time? What could have been made easier? What did they like about it? These are all vital questions in helping a business to figure out what to change, refine, keep the same or get rid of altogether.
Whatever the size of your company, and whatever your offering may be, being able to tick off these steps will go a long way towards ensuring a trusting relationship with your customer base.
About the Author
Jon Higham is the Managing Director of Medicine Direct, a UK-based online pharmacy. Medicine Direct provides medication for UK patients to treat a wide range of conditions. Patients are prescribed an appropriate medicine after an online consultation with a registered medical professional, which can be purchased from the online pharmacy.