How to Build Customer Trust (with John Wall)

How to Build Customer Trust (with John Wall)

John Wall is the producer and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee Podcast and a partner at Trust Insights, a marketing data consultancy. His specialties include marketing, sales, copywriting, blogging, SEO, podcasting, and affiliate and search marketing. He is also the author of The Marketing Over Coffee Playbook and B2B Marketing Confessions. 

In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss how we can build customer trust to market like a human.

Violating Customer Trust 

Why do some marketers violate trust? Unfortunately, these marketers implement manipulative and deceptive strategies to gain customers simply because they want the quick buck. Some marketers are willing to do anything to meet their monthly goals, even signing up their customers for newsletters without their permission. However, doing these things hurts our business in the long run because we lose customer trust. 

​​”It always catches up to you sooner or later,” John said. “Customers and prospects are all about trust. They actually don’t care about their data or what you’re doing with it as long as they trust you.”

If we aren’t meeting our goals and gaining as many leads as we would like, instead of “cheating” and breaking customer trust, we should take the time to prioritize achieving those goals and finding new methods. While it may take more time, in the long run we will see greater benefits. 

If our customers don’t trust us, they won’t buy from us, and they may tell others that we’re untrustworthy. Gaining our customers’ trust is one of the most important things we can do. “A brand is the promise of what you’re going to do,” John said. “As soon as you break that promise, you lose the customer.

A brand is the_Blog

Customer Privacy 

One of the traps businesses fall into is violating customer privacy. John explained that customers don’t have a problem giving us their data and information if they trust us, but the instant we break their trust, we lose them. 

For example, we are willing to give credit card companies all our information. They could even map out our locations because they can see our transaction history. Yet, this is something most customers are okay with. However, if a credit card company were to send us an email offering us flowers or a promotion because they saw it was a family member’s birthday, that feels like a violation of privacy. This is because the credit card company is using our information without our permission. 

As a brand, we have to be very cautious about where we use our customers’ information. While we do want to personalize emails to show our customers we care about them, there is a line we shouldn’t cross. We don’t want to use their personal information without their permission; if we do, we violate their trust and lose their business. 

Automated Emails

Another way we can erode our customers’ trust is through automation emails. I have received automated emails in the past encouraging me to buy a product I just bought. When this happens, I trust the brand less because I know they send out their emails in bulk. They don’t really know me or care about me. It feels like they’re ruining the trust relationship. 

When we send out automated emails, we have to be careful about sending promotions about a product a customer already bought or sending the same customer the same emails repeatedly. Doing this can break their trust. 

One way to avoid this is by organizing our customers into different email groups. For example, we can put potential customers on one list and current customers on another list. This way, our current customers don’t receive annoying emails, especially after they’ve already bought from us. 

“Companies do have to have somebody who’s responsible for the customer,” John said. “Have people who are in charge of making sure that customers aren’t getting harassed [or] getting promotions they’ve already opted out for.”

We should monitor our customers to make sure they aren’t having any problems or issues with us that would cause them to leave. We should have a process in place where we check-in with our customers before renewal processes. We don’t want to forget about them until they leave us. 

Building Customer Trust 

Our number one priority in our brands should be building and maintaining customer trust. As John explained, “More than ever, the customer is driving the sales process so much that you’re really just subject to the desires of the prospect.”

Before a customer comes to us, they have already done the research and read the reviews. They are already educated about our brand and products. They’ve essentially made the decision to buy from us before they come to us. Because of this, it’s essential for us to prove our reputation and value as early as possible. We should begin building customer trust long before they are a customer. 

“The biggest part [of building trust] is proving your reputation before the sale,” John said. “If you’re still providing value or resources or even if you’ve got positive testimonials from other similar customers, . . . try and keep it in front of people.” We have to work for our customers or else the sale won’t happen.

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Reviews and Testimonials 

One of the best ways to begin building our reputation is through positive customer reviews and testimonials. When a customer is researching our brand, most will read reviews before making a purchase decision. If we have hundreds of positive reviews on our website or Amazon, we begin to build trust before a customer has even chosen our brand. 

Meeting Customer Expectations

Another way we can build trust is by meeting customer expectations. Once a customer has purchased a product or service from us, they have expectations. Either we meet those expectations or we don’t. It all comes down to delivering our promises.

For every industry, people have expectations. We are expected to be treated like a friend at a restaurant, but we expect to be hassled by our phone provider. As a brand, we need to go above and beyond customer expectations to really build that foundational trust with them. 

We should provide proof that we follow through on our promises through the customer journey. If a customer doesn’t like our products or has a negative experience, we can find ways to fix the problem and offer a new solution. We can find a way to still meet our promises. 

“Ultimately, you have to get to a point where the customer can’t live without you. They would not dream of not sending the money to you because they need whatever is coming back to them,” John said. 

Sending Personalized Emails 

Another way we can build trust is by becoming more human in our marketing. Instead of sending out bulk automated emails which can damage trust, we can send out personalized emails. This might mean including the customer’s name at the top of the email, or asking them if they enjoyed the webinar they attended with us. 

When we send out bulk emails to people who attend our webinars, instead of sending the same email to everyone, we can find a handful of our best customers and create a personalized message. We can use data processing to focus on the customers that have better odds at being successful and have a personal discussion with them. 

How to Mend Broken Trust

Despite our best efforts, there may be times where we fall short. Sometimes we fail our customers. We might put protections in place to protect our servers but they get hacked. We may send out the customer’s products in time, but the shipping company makes a mistake and it gets lost in the mail. There will be times when we break our customers’ trust. What are the best steps we can take to repair broken trust?

The first thing we should do is try to fix the problem as quickly as possible, while apologizing for the inconvenience. “Make sure that you jump in and you fix it as fast as you can and as adeptly as you can so that you can prove that this is really important to us and we want this to get fixed,” John said. 

Part of the process of mending broken trust requires us to know our customers. For example, there may be a customer who complains about every single thing. We shouldn’t waste our time trying to mend trust with a distrusting person. On the other hand, when we know our best customers, we should put all our energy into mending trust with them. 

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much John for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

  1. A brand is the promise of what we’re going to do. When we break that promise, we often lose the customer.
  2. When we use a customer’s personal information without their permission, we often violate their trust and lose their business. 
  3. Automated emails can erode customer trust if we aren’t careful about what we are sending to whom. We don’t want to send long-term customers the same emails we send to prospective customers. 
  4. Customers do their research about our brand before coming to us. We should make an effort to build our reputation and trust from the very beginning of the customer journey. 
  5. We can build customer trust through positive reviews and testimonials, meeting expectations, and personalized emails. 
  6. In order to mend broken trust, we should apologize and try to fix the problem as fast as we can. 
  7. We shouldn’t waste our time trying to mend trust with a distrusting person.

Connect with John

To learn more about or connect with John:

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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