Every business, regardless of type, needs the trust of its customers to survive. Consumers trust restaurants not to poison them, for example. We all trust that the brakes will work on a new car. And, on a less dramatic level, we trust that an online store will ship us a product in return for our money.
But fundamental failures like the above examples are not the only things that can diminish the faith customers have in a brand. There are many other mistakes companies can make that will make consumers question their belief in the brand. Indeed, some of the best-intentioned companies have been known to destroy consumer trust beyond repair through careless mistakes. Here are ten of the easily made errors that will damage customer confidence in a brand.
Failure to Communicate
The moment a company stops communicating with its customers is when people lose faith in the brand. For one thing, people usually associate the drying up of communication with a company struggling to survive. At best, if you stop talking to your customers, people will think you don’t care.
So, even if the company is going through a tough time, you must keep the flow of information constant. Don’t suddenly stop posting on your blog, for example. And don’t ignore emails or messages left on your social media accounts. Even something as simple as forgetting to set your out-of-office responses to emails can sow the first seeds of doubt in customers’ minds.
Hiding the Truth
Of course, lying is a surefire way to destroy trust in a brand. But a lack of transparency can be equally damaging. So, ensure, for example, that your terms and conditions are easy to find and written in plain English. And don’t try to hide things like your shipping charges and other additional costs. It only takes one transgression from the truth or one misleading fact to make people wonder what else about your brand might be dishonest.
Running Down the Competition
Of course, you will want to highlight the unique aspects of your products that your competitors lack. However, it is best to sell any product or service on its merits rather than highlight competitors’ shortcomings. Many people will see knocking the competition as an act of desperation and an underhanded sales technique. And, if the sales methods are dubious, people will ask what else about the company not strictly above board is.
Not Responding to Negative Reviews
Customer review sites are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, glowing testimonials are great for business and provide a tremendous ego boost. On the other hand, negative reviews can be extremely disheartening. However, it is best not to ignore the negative comments. Instead, see them as an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to customer service publicly.
So, respond to negative feedback, apologize, and offer compensation when appropriate. Failing to respond to negative reviews suggests that either you don’t care or that the negative review was accurate and par for the course.
Not Following Through on Promises
Don’t make promises you can’t keep! If you say that you offer next-day delivery, for example, make sure that you can achieve that. And don’t get a reputation for missing appointments with customers or failing to deliver by agreed deadlines.
Over-promising is an easy trap to fall into when you are selling to a customer. But it is better to set realistic expectations than to let a customer down later and lose their trust.
Falling to Rectify Mistakes
Mistakes happen; they always do. But you can rebuild trust if you admit mistakes and rectify them quickly. So, don’t ignore customer complaints and don’t use excuses to wriggle out of a situation. Address the problem head-on and take steps to ensure that the issue does not arise again.
Not Being Open to Customer Feedback
Caring about customer opinions is central to generating trust and building relationships. And brands that fail to listen will never know where they are going wrong. So, actively encouraging feedback will help to cement the reputation of your brand. And, of course, acting on feedback and publicizing what you have done is essential for trust-building, too.
Aligning your brand with your customers’ values is a great way to connect with your target audience. However, if a brand is only faking its persona, the truth will soon come out. A company that promotes its green credentials, for example, must take steps to reduce waste and curb its carbon emissions. And a brand that promotes ethical trading cannot be found to be importing cheap products from overseas sweatshops. Consumers will jump on a company that is found to be faking it extremely fast. News of the brand’s deceit will travel quickly, and all brand credibility will be lost.
Happy employees make great brand ambassadors. However, it would be wise to remember that disgruntled employees have a voice too. So, fair treatment of employees is as crucial to brand reputation as customer care. Suppose you mistreat employees, for example, with low pay and poor working conditions. In that case, negative comments from dissatisfied workers will get your company a bad reputation and alienate some customers.
Finally, consumers like to know what they are going to get from a brand. That expectation might be low-cost products that offer unrivaled value for money. Or it could be top-quality, exclusive merchandise. But the important thing is not to chop and change but instead consistently deliver on the brand’s promise.
Building brand trust is no different from asking someone to trust you personally. If you want someone to trust you, you must be honest, genuine, transparent, and deliver on your promises. And, if you let someone down once, it can be hard to regain that person’s trust. So, brand reputation management is not something to be taken lightly.