A business cannot function without customer trust and loyalty. How else can they guarantee repeat purchases of their products or services?
However, this phenomenon doesn't happen automatically, you have to work at it. This includes constantly engaging with your customers, past, present and prospect, to keep your brand in the forefront of their minds.
Trust and loyalty are very powerful tactics in the social marketing world. This helps with promoting your brand to a wider audience, influencing decisions to buy, and maintaining a presence online to help your customers whenever they need it.
This infographic will give you a taste of what I mean:
And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
Positive customer conversations result from trust and loyalty
In my post about Word of Mouth marketing, I mentioned the idea of getting customers to tell their social circle about a brand. This isn't just gabbling on endlessly about the product or service, they need to have experienced it before they can consider mentioning it.
The best conversations are the ones which happen spontaneously. Brands need to focus on gaining customer trust and loyalty before asking them to help spread the word on social media. It the naturalness of these references and the vocabulary used which contributes to a successful Word of Mouth campaign.
Customers need to be comfortable with the brand before they talk about it. There is no way anyone will be able to create a suitable story or anecdote otherwise. They know how to deliver news to impress their friends and family, and make it memorable and actionable.
Ask your customers what they think to get more ideas
Asking your customers for input about your brand is a great way to get them talking. Make them feel special and needed, part of the research team, and that whatever they say is both valuable and vital. In fact this is correct, as your customers will have a much better insight into your brand than your business.
If you aren't getting suitable results from social media, try publishing a survey there, as this may be more effective. This encourages nervous or reticent customers to have their say once they know it's anonymous. Not every customer is an extrovert mouthing good ideas left, right and centre!
Once customers get to know the brand wants their opinion or ideas, they will feel more of an affinity with them. This enforces the concept the business cares about its customers, which helps towards increasing trust and loyalty in the future.
Create a good relationship with your customers
Socially engaging online is a great way to create customer relationships. You don't need to go in with all guns blazing, in fact this may put people off! In fact I suggest doing a spot of social listening before attempting to contribute in people's conversations.
It's always a good idea to 'lurk and learn' first. See what your customers are talking about, not necessarily about your brand, but other stuff as well. Find out what makes them tick, what their needs and desires are, which questions always crop up, and what they think about your competitors.
Only then, once you're sufficiently clued up, will you venture into the discussions. Answer questions, solve their problems and provide immediate customer service if applicable. Show your customers you care and that this brand isn't just another faceless corporation out to make lots of money.
Incentivise your customers if you want them to help you
Another way to gain customer trust and loyalty is to increase their sense of importance. Invite them into a loyalty programme to help promote your brand online. Being a member of an exclusive club gives the benefit of belonging, and some customers really enjoy this experience.
Now you can give them insight knowledge about the brand. They get to try the latest products before anyone else. Encouraging them to photograph or video their experiences with the new prototypes will produce valuable user generated content. And this can be easily shown on social media to their much wider audience.
Provide special discount vouchers which customers can promote online. Make these customers feel exclusive within this venture. This sense of influence with the brand will create plenty of incentive power to get them talking within their social circles.
Customer service is paramount for trust and loyalty
Businesses are always saying the customer is number one. But how many of them actually go about showing this? Do they have processes in place which include treating each customer as an individual rather than just a number, or another statistic to report?
Customer service should always focus on gaining the trust of the customers they help. Which, once they are successful, will lead onto loyalty. This is enhanced by the way the service is delivered. Operators need to show their personality, know how much as well as what to say, along with being thoroughly knowledgeable about the products or services.
And this doesn't need to be on the end of an online chat service. Customer service can be delivered online via social listening, where operators will be 'in the thick of it' and ready to rapidly respond to save the day.
How often do you talk to your customers?
Social media shouldn't be used purely for promotional reasons. This is an easy trap to fall into. The word 'social' is a clue, as here is an opportunity to start talking with your customers, wherever they may be within your marketing funnels.
What easier way is there to cultivate trust and loyalty amongst those you speak to? Always focus on the other person, think about what they're saying or doing, rather than constantly thinking how your brand could affect them. Being social is about being friendly, creating relationships, finding out about the other person with the possibility of helping them later.
You need to gain the trust of your social contact before they convert into a loyal customer. They will only do this if they feel comfortable about the brand, understand its purposes and appreciate its honesty. A business who successfully shows its transparency will develop more trust and loyalty as time goes by.
Which customer trust and loyalty measures do you do?
Do you send out a regular newsletter to communicate with and educate your followers? Have you got at least one member of staff socially interacting online as part of either social listening or customer service? What incentives do you provide customers to increase their trust and loyalty in your brand?
Customers are a valuable commodity which should not be taken lightly. Woo them, make them feel special and needed, and above all, regularly converse with them. They shouldn't be seen as figures on a sales sheet, but potential marketers, sales people, influencers and social advocates ready to help promote your brand.
Let us know in the comments below your experiences of gaining trust and loyalty from your customers. If you have any extra tricks or tips to share, especially ones which I have forgotten to add in this post, we would be very grateful to receive them. We very much look forward to hearing from you.