In the age of disloyalty, it’s easy for your customer to jump ship from one subscription business or ecommerce store to another. How do you make a customer feel respected and gain their trust?
Customer trust is a reciprocal behavior to what they receive. Trust comes when you understand your customer’s needs, respect them, and offer relevant service.
Gaining customer’s trust is important not only to make them loyal and come back, but also so they insist their friends do business with you too.
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Why customer trust is important for brand loyalty
Every interaction we have with our customer influences whether or not they will return.
Their experience with you should be helpful and enjoyable, making them want to come back.
Your customer has high expectations. According to the customer quotient study, technology has the third highest rating for industries where customers feel respected. That means your customers come in expecting a high-level of competence and service ability from the agent.
That’s a lot of pressure for a customer support agent!
Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong. ~ Donald Porter
What are the key reasons customers remain loyal to a product, service or organization?
According to the customer quotient study, consumers value a brand with: openness, relevance, empathy, experience, and emotion. A brand’s performance on these measures predicts loyalty outcomes and is clearly correlated to profit (ROA) and revenue growth.
The customer quotient study suggests there are six drivers of customer trust:
- Stability – a brand must have a foundation or stability
- Innovation – a brand must continue to develop & innovate
- Relationship – a brand must provide a relationship
- Benefit – a brand must deliver practical value
- Vision – a brand must have guiding vision
- Competence – a brand must have competence
Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. ~ Damon Richards
Building customer trust is no easy feat. I’ve learned a lot about building trust with customer in my years at Kayako.
This is why I connected with some fellow support leaders, Andrea Saez, Head of Customer Success at ProdPad, Eva Casado de Amezua, Director of Customer Support at Typeform, and Shaun Van Weelden, Success Engineer at Engagio.
We set out to discover more about our experience and views on providing customer service that drives trust and loyalty.
What is the hardest lesson you learned about customer service?
The hardest lesson for me was to remain calm and to always smile with customers. Even if they aren’t listening to you, just try to grasp where they are coming from. Once you know, where they are at, you can easily mold your language to suit them.
The most important part is they just want someone to listen and understand them and to give personal service. The customer wants to be heard and know someone cares about them.
“Not to take things personally. Sometimes you’re so invested in your work, that if someone reacts negatively, you end up feeling really bad for the rest of the day.
“Sometimes people react negatively because they’re having a bad day themselves, and their reaction may have nothing to do with you whatsoever… it’s taken me a while, but I now try to not take things personally and instead try to turn things around and bring a little bit of a light to someone’s cloudy day.”
“Learning what your team needs to deliver world-class service and keep their morale high is not only what they tell you in one-on-ones, but what they don’t.
“They may feel too shy to mention what is bugging them, or think it is not relevant or an isolated case, or be worrying about what their peers may think, or even discard their ideas thinking they are wrong.
“But there is always something and usually that thing is common to many team members, so it is not as small as they may think. Fine tune your one-on-one radar!”
“The most picky and hard-to-please customers are also the ones leaning in the most who are trying to make your product a crucial part of their workflow. Leaning in and embracing the constant feedback about areas to improve will provide insights and opportunities to make things better for all of your customers.”
What is the most overlooked way of building customer trust?
Building trust depends on the quality of your customer service. Is it consistent, and are you transparent with your customers?
Your customers are other individuals just like you. Just as when you go out for dinner, you always look for great service. You’re only going for the food but for the taste, the quality and their hospitality. This is exactly everyone looks forward while dealing with product support!
“Acknowledgment of feedback. Feedback is often sent in but no one will bother to ask ‘why’. Why do they need this, what are they trying to achieve?
“You’d be surprised how often you can get to the root of the problem by taking the time to understand it. This allows you to get to know the person — and they get to know you as a person as well, they no longer feel like they’re dealing with a machine, but a human being they can relate to.”
“Give information about how support workflows are designed and why, to keep the communication with the customer open, to prevent locking it down to mere venting. Explain succinctly how the service works, it’s not enough for them to learn to “hack the system” but sufficiently for them to understand there’s a carefully crafted process for their particular case, and that there’s openness to improve the process, if necessary.
“The moment you are open to change as a result of their feedback, the customer’s tone and message tends to change drastically.”
“The most overlooked way of building trust is consistency. Trusting customer support to be there and be helpful doesn’t come from a good product or an amazing blog post, it comes from being there with answers when your customers need you most, not once or twice, but 10 times, 20 times.”
What is the most brilliant moment you’ve had in customer service where you know you truly helped someone?
In recent years, I’ve had so many experiences to share that were proud moments for me. Among those, one of our customers was about to leave us, as he wasn’t able to configure the product according to his workflow.
I helped him out via a remote session and set up everything for him. It took a few follow-ups to ensure everything was fine at his end.
Now, even if it’s a support call or a billing call, he always contacts me directly to sort it out.
He is still with us after three years, and has even purchased additional licenses. He has also referred other customers to me and describes me as a passionate and helpful person in my work. And, even offered a trip to visit his office in NYC!
“Someone I had sent a reply to in a ticket found me at a conference last year, and thanked me for taking the time to write back acknowledging his feedback, and also for sending educational material about how and why we work here.
“He had been unaware his particular request involved some best practices. Instead of just saying “no, we don’t do that” and ending the conversation, I passed on some blog posts. This blew his mind, and he was able to educate himself and his team, and now they love our product, and even use it to educate their clients.”
“My favorite case was a Russian granny from Saint Petersburg. It says a lot both about her and the UX of our platform that she managed to create a Typeform with almost zero knowledge of English.
“When eventually she got stuck, she reached out to us in Russian with the kind of cryptic message you’d expect from an old lady who has barely touched a digital device in her whole life.
“The case was passed to me because the success team thought it might be a weird case of abuse of our terms of service and the message did not make much sense to anyone. I ended up in a nice conversation with the lady thanks to Google Translate. She even sent me photos of the city to encourage me to pay a visit!”
“The most brilliant moment I had was the day I met one of the customers’ I was constantly helping in person. He shared that because of my consistent assistance, they could get so much more done with our product.
“If his team had questions, he encouraged them to reach out to me directly so that I could unblock them.
“He was so excited to meet the guy that was supporting him, we even snapped a picture for his team! That was one of my favorite moments.”
Who are your inspirations for building customer trust?
Support heroes are my inspiration to nurture relationships with customers. Their stories and the procedures help support to retain the customer and build a trustworthy relation. This happens when you listen, absorb and grow with your customers. Walk and talk with your customers, with all the transparency, and that’s all!
“Steve Jobs. I used to work at Apple, and one thing I learned there is to never use the word no. Saying ‘no’ brings absolutely no purpose — instead try to understand what the user is trying to achieve and deflect that ‘no’ and turn it into a positive.”
“Our support team, varied range of creative and intelligent people. They care about users and their experience with support service. They provide a constant reminder to keep on innovating and bravely apply changes to reach the next big KPI goal and boost customer retention.
“When you see so much talent and a superb positive attitude at your service is impossible to feel things are not going to end well, or better. Our support team makes a difference.”
“Our executive leadership and manager constantly emphasize the importance of freedom and transparency. The way we support our customers is also based on that as well.
“Our support team has the freedom to support customers in whichever way will be most effective and there’s trust that we’ll do our jobs amazingly well. As a result, our customers pick up on how we are trusted to be transparent and genuine and in how we help them as well.
“I think when you talk with support, your experience depends directly on how the support person is feeling and what they value. If the team trusts you, your customers will trust you too.”
What do you see as the biggest challenge in building customer trust in the future?
We have many automations with every product and people love it because it makes their life easy. However, customers look for proactive and personalized support. The more transactions including
However, customers look for proactive and personalized support. The more transactions including
The more transactions including automations could be alarming for developing relations with your customers.
“Bots. I know everyone loves bots, but a bot isn’t a human. A human can’t foster a relationship, it doesn’t understand frustration, and it doesn’t know how to relate to others. It may be able to do a lot of other really cool things, but if you’re talking about fostering trust, you still need a human being with actual feelings to do that.”
“Given my SaaS background, a massive challenge will be to balance all the new technologies available for automation and self-service that are rising in the coming years such as AIs and bots, without turning them into a barrier to wall the company from customers.
“If we can’t do better than old fashioned contact centers with culturally-fallible greeting scripts and rigid protocols that leave no air for customers to feel well attended to, or that can’t give us key information about product and service performance, what’s the point of innovating?
“In essence, the ‘bad’ customer experience would be the same, and not to mention the lack of insights gathered!”
“I think the biggest challenge will be scaling support in a human way so that customers still feel cared about. White glove treatment is great for customer retention, but terrible for the bottom line.
“While tech allows us to automate and produce self-serve materials, the number one reason customers churn is because customers don’t feel the company cares about them.
“Support needs to scale in a way that conveys that you care about them in a genuine and impactful way. Customer trust is a big part of that as well.”
How to gain customer trust and confidence
When a customer contacts you, they will always want to know if you understand their problem.
This is important for the support agent to understand.
The first part of your interaction should demonstrate you can see the problem they’re suffering.
After this, begin to offer your help. If it’s not an immediate fix, let them know what you are doing and what further steps are being taken to solve their issue.
When you share everything with your customer, they appreciate this and it creates an authentic connection.
To round up, here are some tips to build customer trust and keep customers loyal to your business.
- Make your product simple and effortless. The more intuitive your product, the more your customers will dive into it.
- Support can take you to odd places. If you can feel your customer’s pain, and be in their shoes, you can go the extra mile for them.
- Always be personal and interested in the customer. It’s easy to forget that it’s a real person behind the screen, but building trust relies on you seeing the customer as an individual and communicating to them in that way.
- Cultivate relationships with your customers by following-up with them, taking care of all their problems, going further to resolve not just the problem, but they potential problem they might suffer next.
- Share best practices with your customers. Don’t only help them out with the best of your abilities but also share best practices to use your product.
- Be transparent with the customer. They will appreciate it and it will help you build a good relationship.
- Take ownership of the problem reported by your customer. Advocate for your customer, be the leader to their solution and project manage the situation by involving everyone that you think could help you.
Remember, your each and every transaction with the customer shows the values your organization and your team hold.