Last year, one of our customers struggling with diabetes was unhappy with the natural remedies she’d bought from us. I exchanged a few emails with her before I lost my patience and told her it seemed like she didn’t appreciate the work we had put into creating our products. A day later, Joyce became a personal friend and a faithful customer.
It’s counterintuitive to think that showing frustration with a customer could lead to a relationship. Yet, once Joyce realized that I was a person and not just a robotic businessman, she let down her guard and admitted she had been worried about whether she could be successful in changing her diet — rather than concerned about the quality of our products.
In an online world, trust is essential to building a solid customer base. People simply won’t buy what you’re selling if they don’t trust you. The same tools you use to build relationships with customers in person — offering a valuable product or service along with being personable, reliable, and available — will also work online with a little extra effort. Here’s how:
Show your customers that you understand their needs and have their best interests at heart. People must feel like you’re offering them something that is essentially good for them. If you’re faking it, your customers will quickly figure that out. Offer them 100 times more value beyond what you charge for your products, and don’t be stingy. Customers who believe that what you’re offering is valuable will refer other customers to you — and continue to come back for more themselves.
The more your customers know about your personal life, the more likely they are to see you as a real person. Allow people to see that you have a life, a family, and normal problems. Don’t hide behind your computer. Share stories, blog about real issues, and post videos or pictures that show you are authentic. Let people know you and connect with you on a personal level.
Protect Your Customers
A significant aspect of trusting an online company is knowing that it’s protecting your money and your personal information. Providing a safety net lets your customers know you care about taking care of them. Companies like Trust Guard and BuySAFE provide identity theft protection and purchase guarantees. Your customers need to know they are completely protected from harm.
Make your contact information readily available so your customers know you are available by phone or email. Respond quickly and consistently to requests and complaints, and be conscious of the tone of your writing. Customers are more likely to respond well to sincere, personal correspondence than to stuffy, corporate communication.
It requires a lot of trust for our customers to veer away from the path of traditional medicine to experience our natural remedies. I try to show people that I have dealt with many of the same health issues and that I understand what they’re going through. This creates trust in the people behind the online store; coupled with a quality product, it brings your relationship full circle.
Buying and selling online requires a new level of trust, as people can’t touch or see the product or interact with sales associates. In a virtual world, the successful companies are those that are trusted by their customers. Be personal, informational, and honest, and you’ll create a legion of satisfied customers.
Joe Barton is the founder of Barton Publishing and other websites that promote natural health through teaching people how to cure themselves using alternative home remedies (using simple grocery store items, herbs, vitamins, exercises, and more), instead of expensive and harmful prescription drugs. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn and Google+.
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