Winning your customers' trust

Thanks to recent scandals ranging from Libor rate fixing to horsemeat, broken reputations of companies have become a fixation in the UK. Here's how to combat suspicion in your potential customers...

by Felix Stockle
Last Updated: 05 Apr 2013

In times like these consumers seek companies that focus on the basics, keep their promises and won’t disappoint them. Even the most hardened business leaders have to soften to the whims of the consumer; driving success must now, more than ever before, be tempered by moral accountability.Here are six ways that companies can not only remain stable and rebuild trust during the consumer confidence crisis, but also improve their market position. 

1. Actually put the customer first

Only those brands that always put customers at the centre of their business can build strong long term relationships. In the current climate, maintaining a dialogue with customers is crucial. The digital world means customers have a lot more choice, so piling all your effort into pleasing them is a good way to avoid them becoming someone else’s. 

2. Keep your promise, and walk before you talk

In the social media age, when a brand’s promises don’t match reality, it quickly becomes obvious. Even the most respected and powerful organisations can be just a blog or tweet away from an instant – and very public – fall from grace. Companies need to ensure that brand promises and claims of ethical conduct are in evidence throughout the company culture in order to stand up against scrutiny. Authenticity is fundamental in building consumer trust. 

3. Start internally and the rest will follow

If how a company acts is more important than what it says when it comes to building consumer trust, make sure all employees understand and personally embrace the ethics and stated values of the business. Employees are the brand, and if they don’t buy it, neither will the customer. 

4. Stay Focused

Becoming unfocused in what you’re offering not only affects your sales margin, but can also deteriorate the ROI of an already shrinking marketing budget. Trying to be ‘everything to everyone’ can put you in danger of becoming ‘nothing to no one’ in the end. 

5. Offer real value rather than lower prices

When it comes to making choices in a shop, customers will ultimately discard the unnecessary items from their baskets. The items that make it to the till? They’re authentic, offer consumers a consistent and coherent experience and deliver on promise. Immediately after the recession M&S saw sales of custard increase 140% as people sought refuge in nostalgic, familiar brands that they could trust. Especially during unstable economic times where consumer distrust is at an all-time high, consumers will put their faith and money in products and services that they sense are reliable and dependable. 

6. View customer uncertainty as an opportunity

Pressure to take action and make necessary efficiency improvements can offer opportunities for some companies to challenge the status quo and improve their offerings. If you make any investments, they should also fulfil your company’s promise from the outset. 

Felix Stockle, is managing director of the Hamburg office of brand consultancy, Landor Associates

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