As a small business you have a competitive advantage over larger companies in one particular aspect: trust. That’s because, research says that consumers have a healthy level of trust in small businesses, as compared to a large private or public institution. If you’re starting out as a small business, here are some tips that will not only help you build trust but also woo customers to boost the numbers showing up in your business finances software: Be honest It’s the oldest rule in business: perceived dishonesty is a sure and quick way to lose the trust of customers. That is why, it is crucial to communicate with customers clearly and be upfront about issues likely to elicit questions – these include pricing, policies regarding returns, changes to orders, etc. Everyone may be doing it, but avoid using the fine print to conceal extra charges. Being consistent also makes a big difference. Your business finances software may throw up comfortable numbers for you to give a particular discount to customers on a certain day, but make sure you clarify that this is a one-time offer. Otherwise customers will expect a similar discount the next time around and will feel offended when they don’t receive it. Be accountable Have your employees introduce themselves by using their names, because most customers prefer dealing with persons rather than impersonal machines. This practice is a sign of accountability and emphasises the personal relationship between your business and customers. You also stand to gain people’s trust if your products and services are guaranteed. A guarantee can help make a hesitant customer confident enough to make a purchase, albeit it may add to the costs if your business is still small. While taking back a damaged product may cost you a bit of money, earning a loyal customer in return eventually benefits the sales recorded in your business finances software. Make it personal Most customers prefer to know the business they’re dealing with, better. You can make the experience personal for your customers in simple ways. For example, a photograph of you and your team on the wall of your store can help the customers in knowing you better. If you are a web-based business, this tactic can work particularly well for you. Pictures of you or your employees will make the impersonal process of buying online more humane, thus helping build trust. Many small Indian businesses are run out of Facebook pages today and the fact that the person behind the page interacts freely with page visitors, only adds a human touch to the business. Another way for web-based small businesses to increase familiarity and trust is through blogs or personal accounts. Share your work with customers in a light-hearted way. Avoid being business-focussed and instead work on personalising the experience. Speak ‘values’ A company mission statement is a great way to share your values and vision with customers, along with being an effective tool for motivating employees. Focus on your values and educate people on what your business stands for. Put up the statement in your store. Publish it on your website. If you are committed to social responsibility or a ‘green’ cause, let everyone know. Some customers may be drawn to similar values. Sponsoring local community events and getting involved in the community is another great way of strengthening name recognition and building trust in your values. Get referrals Recommendations are a powerful tool. Whether looking for a school, doctor or restaurant, most people ask friends, family members or colleagues for a recommendation. Small businesses are no different. It only takes a few people with a favourable opinion of your business to spread the word and attract new customers, helping register more sales in your business finances software. That is why you must devote adequate resources to keeping existing customers happy – a happy customer is the best advertising. There are many ways to speed up the referral process. For example, you can offer incentives such as free gifts or discount to customers who refer their family or friends for a service or purchase. Try some self-promotion Positive referrals work just as effectively as direct referrals. You can solicit recommendations and testimonials from satisfied customers and display them prominently in your store or on your website. You can also use excerpts of such testimonials in marketing materials and advertising, with due permission from the customer. But remember, don’t fake testimonials; your discerning customers will spot your bluff immediately and there’s no faster way to lose their trust than this! Most importantly, on your journey towards building a small trusted brand, remember to always be true to yourself, your business, and your customers.
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Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.