Tips for Generating Customer Trust as a Start Up

Posted by Bernard Schoeman on 30 March 2023.



Bernard Schoeman

CA(SA), Post Graduate Diploma Accounting, BCom

The Tax Shop Head Office

More about Bernard Schoeman

Bernard studied BCom majoring in information systems and accounting at the University of Cape Town and qualified as a Chartered Accountant (SA) in 1997 after completing of his articles with Deloitte & Touche. Bernard has extensive international and local experience having worked for nearly three years with financial institutions in the UK (London) and having audited numerous companies listed on the JSE in South Africa. He is a member of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

“Consumers don’t just buy products and services anymore; they buy experiences. This demands a new approach to marketing, sales, and services; one that hinges on winning customer trust.” (Ben Jackson, Author “The Future of Commerce)

With customer trust being the most important element in attracting sales, contracts and clients, gaining that trust is an important step for any new start up. How can you make sales if you have no way to prove you are good at making sales? These tips should help any start up build that all important trust and make their first sales.

Make top level products

It may seem obvious, but whether you are offering a service, or selling products online, the first, and most critical thing you can do to develop as a company is to make sure your product is as high-quality as possible. Products that are easy for a customer to use, and that fulfil the client’s needs will always win their loyalty.

Price your product accurately

Pricing a product isn’t as easy as adding profit to cost. You need to price your product in such a way that you are covering all costs, making a profit, and pricing yourself correctly within the market. Getting this right will be crucial to finding, developing and retaining customers. Your accountant can help ensure no one feels cheated while you are also operationally effective.

Provide top level service in every way

The first few weeks and months of operation are absolutely critical when it comes to customer service. It may feel like nothing is coming in, but the day you receive an email it would be extremely wise for you to answer as quickly as possible. Handling enquiries politely, quickly and thoroughly will translate in the customer’s mind to a business which is caring and paying attention.

Show them your humanity

The first inclination for any customer is to mistrust brands – they are money-making machines. We do, however, want to trust new people we meet. Because of this, it’s a great idea to reveal the human face of your business early. Use the About Us page to introduce yourself and the team right from the start. Let people know your story, and how you came to establish your company. This allows you to imbue your brand with the real-life values you believe in and so establish the human connection in a way that only small brands really can.

Offer a free sample

People view free things as being risk-free interactions, and so are generally likely to take you up on the offer. By trading free samples or an hour of your work at no cost, in exchange for nothing but an email address, you give clients the chance to try your product or service and potentially even leave a review. You also get their email address, which is a good way to communicate with them and establish a genuine relationship.

Use testimonials

Whenever anyone compliments your business, you should think about asking them for a testimonial. According to studies, people these days trust online reviews and testimonials almost as much as they trust recommendations from friends. So, every review could be the difference between success and failure. If possible, make these videos. Video is increasingly important online, and the humanity showcased by a video of someone is a very strong incentive.

Have an easy return policy

If there is one thing that will make a customer take a chance on an untested brand, it’s the knowledge that should something go wrong they can get their money back. A strong returns policy also sends a clear signal to potential customers that you believe in your product.   Your returns policy should be clearly defined and easy to find on all of your media channels.

Handle all your reviews

Your reviews will influence new buyers’ desire to interact with your company, so do not ignore them. Answer every one. It’s easy to thank people for leaving good reviews (and you should), but it’s how you handle the bad ones that will give people the most confidence. Apologise for problems openly and reveal what you will do to fix them. This gives new customers a clear indication that while problems do happen to everyone, you go out of your way to resolve them.

Offer a loyalty program

According to Annex Cloud, 65% of a company’s revenue comes from repeat business from existing clients.  Harvard Business Review says it can be up to 25 times more expensive to sell to a new client than a returning one. It’s therefore a great idea to do everything you can to retain good customers. A loyalty program is a proven way to reward these clients and also give them an incentive to stick around. The Yotpo study on brand loyalty 2022 revealed that 83% of global respondents said belonging to a loyalty program influences their decision to buy again. Starting a worthwhile loyalty program will therefore impact the future performance of your company.

Promise only what you can deliver

It may be tempting as a newcomer to do everything you can for your customers, even if it’s not part of your business or your core ideals. The worst thing you can do though is over promise and then not deliver. This can be the start of the business developing a bad reputation that it would be difficult to recover from.

Eradicate the trust eroders

Many small things can erode trust: a lack of social media, spelling mistakes on your website, a longer than necessary purchasing process, hidden costs, or a lack of information about the product. Ask friends to go through your website, buy a product, or call your service centre and mark down a list of snags, or things they are concerned about. Points that come up more than once must be attended to as a matter of priority.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

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