How do you look? Building Trust: Part 2

Dec 24, 2008

Continuing from the last post, How do you look? Building Trust: Part 1

I want to continue the discussion from the question. Does an honest company fair better than one out for a few quick quid? Before I jump to a conclusion and say a whole hearted yes, I want to remove any prejudices we might enter into this discussion. I will layout several questions as a means of helping us identify what I mean by trust:

  1. Am I doing what I said I would do?
  2. Or am I able to deliver on my promises?
  3. Am I acting in a way that builds credibility, even if it may incur some cost?
  4. Is there clear communication within my organisation and to my customers?
  5. Is the branding or image I am presenting assisting in building credibility?

It is important to point out this caveat, that trust is not a measure of how you handle difficult clients, but the integrity with which you do interact with all your clients. It is important to be able to manage and deal with troublesome clients, with integrity, as this will generally be demonstrated by greater loyalty and better business relationships with the good clients.

The goal of building trust is a goal of building loyalty. Let me explain. Recently I had problems with my MacBook Pro, and took it in for servicing. I could not have been happier with the results of this exchange. What were my impressions, they are as follows:

  1. Apple takes care of its customers.
  2. I will buy AppleCare again because of the how hassle free the whole process was.
  3. Apple fulfilled its promises to me, of hassle free servicing of a product on AppleCare.

Now, I know there are horror stories about every company and I don’t wish to discredit them or discuss them. The real motive is to show that loyalty is built on experiences and presentation of a company. The experience I had confirmed that Apple is a professional company that is serious about providing excellence to its customers.

How do we translate this to the realm of branding and marketing tools. The key is that Apple had worked to get a good image which helped them build on their credibility, and the consumer experience with their products and services has only served to reinforce the loyalty.

Lets break this down, and look at branding, followed by experience. The brand of a company is important for those who have not yet experienced the company. Most people when they approach a company have little to no idea about whether a company is credible and the quality of service, they will experience. But a good clean branding and good reviews, lower the threshold for trust. You may say anyone can look good, even con artists look good, but will never deliver. Now there is some truth in this, but a con artist is looking for quick cash and someone intent on building a brand will work to build loyalty between themselves and their clients. Someone who works hard to have good clean branding, is more than likely looking to build a long term business.

As a designer when I look at company’s website, marketing materials and overall, how they put forward “the best” of themselves. It clearly shows me what is important to them and their customers. A company that values ‘price’, will have an image to reflect it. A company that values excellence and making the best will have a different image to reflect that, etc.

But trust isn’t just about how good your company looks, it is also about how well you communicate, your goals and vision. Good branding can be thwarted by a break down in communication, either internally or with a client who feels agreements are not being fulfilled? The basis of integrity is, am doing what I said I would. Am I building and maintaining trust through fulfilling what I said I would? Is my business building trust and communicating its values, as part of instilling trust? Since the web is a prolific tool for communicating values, here are some ways to improve communication:

Do you have your contact information clearly displayed? It is surprising the number of people who base trust on contact information or the perceived accessibility.

  1. Does your website clearly reflect your values?
  2. Does your company have a blog, or another means of updating you clients about after-sales care. Not just up-selling, but communicating product changes or improvements.
  3. Do your clients and potential clients have access to the important information for making decisions? This can be as simple as a telephone number or as complex as a site to provide a quote/ e-commerce.
  4. Do you have an after-sales forum you can monitor? Ensuring you are able to deal with queries or difficulties quickly and effectively. As pertinent to the business.
  5. Have you considered how social networking sites are driving the economy? Social networking is complex, but about people sharing their experiences. From a consultant posting client reviews to people sharing experiences about a product.

To summarise, this post I will ask one question. How well are you communicating?

Posted by Thomas Cowell

Tags: branding, tools