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As consumers continue to become more skeptical of traditional advertising and the claims that brands make, it’s becoming more challenging for companies to build customer trust. According to Marketing Charts, however, one-third of American consumers believe trusting a brand is important because they can’t afford to waste money on a bad product. 

What actions, rather than words, can brands take to get consumers to trust them? We turned to some marketing experts to learn how brands can build trust, avoid specific pitfalls and measure trust-building efforts.

How Can Brands Build Customer Trust?

“Responsive and reliable customer support are crucial for developing trust,” stated Jeilan Devanesan, content marketer at Venngage. Customers usually interact with a brand through support staff the most, so they’re on the front-lines for building trust. “Whether customers communicate with your support team over a chat box or email,” he continued, “speedy responses that acknowledge the issue goes a long way.” Ensuring staff follows up with customers when they said they would is a key component of this. Reliable customer support is one of the best ways to reassure customers that your brand values them and is available to solve any issues they have.

“Data can help build a closer relationship with your customers,” said Jasper Radeke, senior director of marketing at AppsFlyer, “but only if it is used in a responsible way that adds value for them.” That’s why investing in security and data governance measures are critical for businesses.

“Ways that businesses can build customer trust are through transparency, open communication and strict compliance with industry regulations like GDPR and CCPA,” he added. This ensures customers are willing to give you their data, and in turn, your brand can use their information to provide a better customer experience.

Related Article: How to Handle the Crisis of Consumer Trust

Losing Trust: The Mistakes Brands Make

Trust is crucial for building strong relationships, but there are some common mistakes many brands make that keep them from winning customers over.

Misleading Information

Misleading landing pages and other sales copy can destroy credibility. “If your features are described a certain way, but your actual service or tool doesn't do the same things,” Devanesan explained, “you're sending two different messages to your customers.” Customers may think you’re trying to deceive or take advantage of them. “This can happen pretty easily too,” Devanesan added, “when your marketing research gets ahead of what your service currently provides.” 

Breaching Privacy

Consumer privacy is crucial nowadays, but many brands still struggle to safely manage customer information. “The process of pooling and sharing data can be invasive,” Radeke said, “and presents significant privacy challenges, especially in meeting the requirements of the GDPR and other global data protection regulations.” Many brands may not be aware that third-party providers lack the processes, external audits and certifications necessary for privacy compliance. “A company that disregards privacy on such a fundamental level is not one that a customer will want to be in business with, and definitely not one they will want to be giving data access to,” Radeke warned.

Related Article: Marketers, Data Collection and the E-Word: Ethics

How to Measure Customer Trust

“While there may not necessarily be a clear tool to measure customer trust,” Radeke said, “the willingness of a customer to share data with a business can be seen as a proxy metric.” Customers will only share personal information with a brand they trust because they believe the additional value they’ll receive far outweigh the risks. “By putting in place proper security measures, opt-out capabilities, and maintaining transparency,” Radeke continued, “businesses can maintain trust with their customers even as needs and concerns develop over time.”

Customer reviews on third-party sites can also be a good indicator of how much consumers trust your brand. “Negative reviews can help you understand if there is messaging that can be changed to reflect your service or offers more accurately,” said Devanesan. He recommends brands make adjustments, and then measure how the average review scores change after a month or so. “Direct feedback to your support team and surveys to your user base also help to pinpoint whether you are improving trust scores,” Devanesan added. It’s best to take a holistic approach for measuring customer trust and take into consideration each of these sources of customer feedback to get a more accurate picture.

“Trust is a key component in any business relationship,” Radeke concluded, “and it is supported by familiarity and the feeling of being ‘heard’ as a customer.” Gather feedback and keep data safe to build customer trust over the long term.