Gone are the days when hearsay and gossip about an offering were enough to make an informed decision.
Over 85% of business leaders believe their customers trust them. Unfortunately, only 30% of customers actually do (PricewaterhouseCoopers).
That’s because consumers demand more than just word-of-mouth recommendations and salesy marketing tactics. Today, they require brand transparency and trust before they are willing to invest their hard-earned money. The bad news is that it’s not always easy for companies to regain consumer trust after losing it.
So how can your business survive in the era of brand cynicism? Let’s discuss.
Trust: A Valuable Commodity
Trust is the holy grail of consumer relationships. Without trust, customers won’t give your business a chance and may move on to competitors they feel have more integrity or better values.
“As we say at Rize, you sell at the speed of trust,” said Tim Clarke, Rize’s Senior Reputation Manager. “There is so much cynicism now so the default is for consumers to not trust brands. You have to do the hard work [and] earning trust is essential.”
Brand trust can manifest among your consumers in several ways:
- Product purchases. In a study by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, 91% of people with high brand trust are more likely to buy from the company.
- Positive reviews. In the same study, 88% of customers will likely recommend you to other people, while 60% of them will share information about your company on social media.
- Longer customer lifecycles. Ninety percent of customers who trust your brand will stay longer with your company, increasing their customer lifetime value.
How about the loss of consumer trust? Unfortunately, it can quickly happen if your business doesn’t take the necessary steps to repair its reputation.
Here’s how brand cynicism negatively impacts your business:
- Lose customers. PwC reveals that 71% of customers who don’t trust your brand won’t buy from you.
- Lose reputation. A lack of consumer trust can lead to a negative reputation for your business, preventing potential customers from considering you as an option.
- Weaken relationships. Failing to provide quality products or services can lead to customer dissatisfaction, weakening relationships with existing and potential customers. 73% of customers distrusting your brand won’t feel loyal to your company.
Left Image: Costs of low brand trust. Right Image: Benefits of high brand trust. Images from PricewaterhouseCoopers.
How To Build Brand Reputation and Turning Cynicism Into Brand Advocacy
Improving a customer relationship takes more than just a good product. Building customer trust also requires creating a brand reputation they can believe in and get behind. Here’s how to do it:
1. Generate Real, High-Quality Reviews
Clarke cited reviews from third-party websites as powerful tools for influencing consumer decisions.
According to the Local Consumer Review Survey by BrightLocal, 98% of consumers read online reviews for local brands, and 38% of them would only care if you have at least a four-star rating.
Image from BrightLocal
However, reviews are double-edged swords. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy and can smell a phony review from miles away.
To build trust with your customers, you must generate genuine, high-quality reviews that accurately reflect their experience with your brand.
A pest control company in Texas recognized the importance of customer reviews for their business. That’s why they hired a review management service to handle their review generation process. This resulted in a 60% increase in reviews, an average star rating of 4.92 and a steady inflow of customers.
Using streamlined, automated requests for feedback and reviews help you capture more honest and accurate ratings from customers.
2. Leverage Online Reputation Management
Your reputation isn’t shaped by just one platform. There are conversations across multiple channels you must pay attention to, such as:
- Social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more.
- Forums: Reddit, Quora and other customer forums.
- Review sites: Yelp, Trustpilot and Google Reviews.
It’s essential to monitor all these platforms to mitigate any issues.
Respond promptly and professionally whenever your brand is mentioned in a post or comment. This shows customers that you care and are willing to address any problems they may have.
Clarke recommended hiring brand reputation management services to craft authentic social media posts and even humor. These marketing collaterals improve your reputation since entertained customers are more likely to interact with your brand positively.
A bone and joint company hired an online reputation management solution and saw a staggering increase in their reviews.
Before outsourcing its review management, this company only had 15 reviews. After nine months of working with the reputation management team, they had 304 reviews which is an increase of 289 reviews:
Case study: Bone and Joint Company
3. Improve Customer Experience
This is a broad way of saying that businesses should prioritize customer satisfaction. But what does this mean in practice?
To improve customer experience, you must understand your customers’ needs and provide the best service possible. Listen to their feedback, ask them questions about their experience and use their suggestions for necessary improvements.
You can use consumer insights generated from online reviews, surveys and social media to identify areas of improvement.
At the end of the day, customers want to feel valued and respected by the brands they do business with. Taking the time to listen and respond to their comments can go a long way in building customer trust and improve customer loyalty.
For example, this multi-location residential management company implemented a robust review response strategy, providing personalized responses to customer reviews, especially negative ones.
In the first six months of implementation, the company responded to over 150 reviews, with an average of eight customer review responses per week.
Here’s an example of how they respond to complaints and negative reviews to prevent further damaging their reputation:
Case Study: Multi-location residential management company
In Adobe’s 2022 Trust Report, 69% of consumers stated that providing personalized experiences is critical in rebuilding trust.
4. It’s All About Brand Authenticity
An authentic brand shares its values, how they manage data and the processes they use to be transparent. Generally speaking, customers are far more likely to trust brands with strong brand authenticity.
A good customer relationship also hinges on your ability to be an authentic brand. In Adobe’s Trust Report, 76% of consumers value your capacity to empathize with what they really need.
For example, if your product is vegan, make sure that you communicate this clearly in all of your messaging. However, don’t make empty promises or exaggerate the truth.
By sticking to your values and being honest about your offer, customers will likely trust your brand in the long run.
Using Customer Trust To Improve Online Reputation
Your work doesn’t stop at fixing customer trust. Now, it’s time to elevate your brand reputation management game and improve customer loyalty.
Here are some tools and strategies to maintain brand advocacy and improve customer experience.
1. Display Customer Testimonials on Your Campaigns
Consumer insights such as reviews, video testimonials and case studies help increase confidence in your brand. After all, hearing from existing customers gives potential customers a better understanding of what to expect.
This also builds a strong customer relationship since you’re showing that you value their feedback and take it seriously.
Here are some ways to leverage your reviews and testimonials:
- Website widgets: Embedding customer reviews on your website is a great way to showcase your brand’s accomplishments.
- Social media: Feature positive customer stories on your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.
“You can also use trust in outbound sales efforts like emails and SMS,” Clarke said. These owned platforms are great for connecting with customers and prospects to build faith in your brand.
An escape room business in North Texas leveraged website widgets to increase their reviews and credibility. This was met with long-lasting and resounding success: 223 new reviews and a near-perfect 4.9-star rating.
Case Study: Escape room business
Remember when we talked about brand authenticity? Your campaigns should reflect your values and the customer experience you strive to provide.
2. Collect First-Party Consumer Insights
This is another tool an authentic brand can use to gain customer trust. In an era where customers don’t feel like the data they sacrifice doesn’t benefit them (Adobe), brands can do a better job of showing value in exchange for data privacy.
Collecting first-party consumer insights allows you to get an accurate and detailed picture of the buying journey, identify pain points and make improvements accordingly.
First-party data refers to consumer data that you collect directly from customers. This can include:
- Feedback forms
- Customer interviews
Use this data for your business reputation management campaigns to improve customer loyalty. The information you get from your customers should help inform decisions about product design, customer service and brand advocacy strategies.
3. Be Top of Mind at the Right Time
Brand trust can easily be damaged if customers don’t remember your brand. That’s why it’s important to remind customers about your business and services whenever they are in need.
Constantly monitor reviews, schedule regular email campaigns and use social media platforms to stay relevant. Being present when your customers need you will go a long way in reinforcing trust and loyalty.
A Dependable Solution To Improve Online Reputation
Business reputation management is a tapestry of customer trust, feedback and loyalty. Your brand must know how to balance all these elements to maintain a positive online image.
Now that you know how to build brand reputation, maintain it and win back customer trust, you’re ready to optimize your campaigns. This journey isn’t easy, though, especially if you’re handling reputation management by yourself.
Rize offers complete brand reputation management services that leverage customer insights and data to help businesses stay top of mind. We provide analysis, monitoring and reporting that make understanding your brand’s performance easier.
Ready to take back control of your business reputation? Rize is here to help. Get in touch today, and let’s get started.