Building Credibility in a Small Business

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If you’re the owner of a business, you’ve probably spent some time thinking about how you can show your customers you are the real deal. Honest. Dependable. Reliable.

Unfortunately, we live in a society of skeptics.

In relationships, trust is earned when you’ve proven you are trustworthy through your day-to-day interactions with others, however on the internet, you have to earn the opportunity to have those interactions first. It can be a vicious cycle. You must give the customer a reason to come back.

This goes beyond simply creating a good offer (hook). You could be advertising a free car, however if your business gives off a shady vibe, people will view it as a trap; no one will give you their identifying information in exchange for getting that free car.

Could you benefit from building a little consumer credibility? Then let’s do it! Build your consumer base by using the 3 Cs: communication, consistency, and customer service.

Communication

There is no substitute for telling your customers who you are, what you sell, and why you are in business. Whether it’s through email, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc., the internet is your opportunity to tell people—potential buyers—everything about you. 

And your best friend is your website! Structured appropriately and written well, your website should be drawing people to it like a magnet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It even works on holidays-without complaining!

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine if you had no website, no Facebook, no Twitter—no social media access at all. In fact, imagine you had no ability to connect with the internet either. Now how does the task of attracting customers feel to you? Difficult? And if you are a web-based business, no access to the web is a death knell.

So appreciate the tools of effective communication that you have and use them. They are not your enemy! Make your communication personable and useful. Yes, juggling those options might feel a bit like a circus at times, however we’ll work on that later.

Consistency

All those tools we discussed above? You must strive to use them consistently. Why? Practically speaking, for a potential customer consistent communication translates to reliable service. If you communicate on a regular basis, consumers feel they can trust you to follow-through on your other promises—the quality of your product, safety of your website, etc. 

Conversely, lack of communication can be interpreted as ignoring the customer.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a brick-and-mortar store and no one greets you or offers assistance? Yeah, that feeling.

Consistency can be hard. I’ve struggled in the past too. There is no doubt that a good flow of communication takes practice and commitment. Perfection isn’t a requirement however once a month isn’t going to cut it either. The truth is that most of the time communication failure is due to a lack of established goals. Let me restate it another way: it is important to set goals for using your tools of communication.

Communication failure is often due to a lack of established goals.

Here are a few examples of positive growth communication goals:

Email — Once a day for short bursts (promotional), normal communication of once per week

Facebook — Once a day, up to several times a day

Twitter — Once a day, up to several times a day

Google+ — Once a day, up to several times a day

LinkedIn — Once a week

These options are just suggestions. If you do not have an established social media presence on any site, pick one or two from the list and jump in feet first!

The closer you get to your target of consistent communication, the faster your financial planning business will develop a customer base that will allow it to grow and flourish. Once you’re consistent at your current goals, set a goal slightly higher to increase your reach.

Consistent communications will allow people to get to know your business, and even expect and look forward to your posts or emails. Eventually, consistency will reward you with the holy grail of communication: your customers will begin to interact with you. Interacting means you can forge relationships, and relationships are where you begin to build credibility with your customers!

Customer Service

So you’re communicating with customers, and you’re doing so on a consistent basis. Is that the end of the story? Of course not! Once your customers begin to interact with you, this is the time for your business to either shine or fall flat on its face.

Customer service of the highest quality is a requirement for business today.

Hire a customer service team like no other. Make it a priority. Give that team the authority to make the customer happy (within reason, of course). Not only should they understand the parameters of what they can do to make the customer happy, however they shouldn’t sit around and wait for the customer to call or email to complain. 

Have them monitor your social media pages and the internet to proactively address complaints. You will not be able to make every customer happy, however your goal should be a 100% happiness rate! For those you can’t make happy, your postings on social media will show you made the effort.

Many companies skip this step. They think back to the “old days” when they could ignore customer complaints and still live with a relatively untarnished image. Those days are long gone! Think about your own interactions with the companies you use-has poor customer service ever been a reason for you to stop utilizing a business? I bet it has, and you can bet that has been a reason for others as well.

Businesses that misstep in this area sometimes get a second chance when they realise their mistake, however often it is too late. You should plan as though you only get one real shot at this. Don’t squander it. Reputation is everything. Regardless of whether you are a team of 1, 10, or 1000, make customer service a cornerstone of your company’s mission, and a stellar reputation will carry you a long way.

Reward

Credibility is earned; it does not come about by accident. Instead it is planned for, meticulously formed, loved, shaped, and then rewarded. Businesses that choose to focus on credibility will see positive customer interaction-and that never hurts in the area of monetary compensation.

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