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How to build trust online

The impact of the coronavirus on the economy has driven businesses to adopt to a “digital first” strategy. Finding a way to deliver your services or products online is a priority for many businesses. In this new and uncertain environment, understanding how to build trust online is vital.

Doing business online is nothing new. For most businesses it is just another aspect of how they deliver their products and services. But the situation businesses face now is different. There is no alternative. It is “digital first” by default. Digital isn’t one dimension of the customer experience – it IS the customer experience.

Managing the customer experience

In this situation, it’s increasingly easy for technology to dominate every aspect of the customer relationship. That technology could be your website, an app, a third-party software package, your email system, or a combination of them all. Whatever form technology takes in your business, it can easily become the most important thing, not the customer.

In a situation dominated by technology, it can be tempting for a business to focus on building better technology strategy, rather than building a better relationship with the customer. And the opposite is also true. The customer builds a relationship with the technology, not your business. This can result in a fragile relationship. A relationship that depends on the quality of an internet connection is one that is easily broken.

Technology is very good at delivering the transactional aspects of the relationship, like competitive prices, increased availability and faster delivery. But these are elements that can be easily replicated by competitors. They’re not the foundation of a long-term, stable customer relationship.

Putting the customer at the heart of your business

Apple has always been conscious of who is behind their technology. The company has been built around customers, not technology. Their products – from the first operating system, to touch screen interfaces and voice command – are evidence of this. This approach is reflected in their advertising too. Apple’s 1984 advert and the Think different campaign didn’t talk about product features. They highlighted the benefit of Apple technology to customers – the potential it could unlock. It’s this focus on customers, not technology, that has enabled Apple, a computer company, to move so successfully into new sectors.

Whatever role technology plays in your relationship with your customers, it’s important to remember that technology is just the means-to-an-end. Your technology, however innovative, is simply a way of helping your customers to fulfil a need or overcome a challenge. Regardless of sector, budget or location, your customer is just a person who buys things they need or like, from people they trust. Even in the current situation, this remains true.

If you know who’s behind your technology, you can build trust. Trust is built around shared values. Your values are one of the foundations of your brand. These values should describe how you do business – not what you do, but how you do it. By understanding what your values are, you can translate your values into actions. It’s these actions – the quality of these actions – that are the building blocks of trust.
In an economy that’s gone digital, almost overnight, it’s essential that you understand how to build trust online. It will help you to survive – or even thrive – in the face of adversity.


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