Trust & Credibility: When, Why, How

In any exchange of money for products or services, some amount of trust and credibility is essential for a deal to be made. Essentially there have to be pillars of credibility on which to build the expectation you’re getting what you paid for.

Of course there is a wide range of goods and services where relatively little trust needed before transacting. Think about the last time you exited a concert or sporting event and saw a cart of cheap hot dogs for sale. The right price plus a quick visual and aromatic check is often all that’s needed to close the deal.

What about the other end of the spectrum where trust and credibility are paramount to running a successful business? At Tape, many of our customers play in this space which has given us a great perspective on why companies need to establish more trust than others and different strategies for accomplishing that.

Trust sensitive businesses

Expensive yet commoditized products – business like like financial services (asset management, insurance, accounting) and brokerages (real estate, et al)will always try to promote some sort of differentiation, but they are essentially the same within price ranges. In these cases, building credibility that allows a consumer to believe that the service is at least as good if not better than customers is necessary. Trust that the consumer’s best interest is being protected goes a long way.

Complicated products – things like cryptocurrency services, jewelry, art, and new age health products (see Seed – subscription probiotics), are all products that will not be deeply understood by its consumers at the time of purchase. Because of that, trust in the selling entity that their intention is to deliver value is essential.

Brand new products – a close cousin to “complicated products”, brand new or newest generation products many times don’t have enough time to be fully understood so the same amount of trust that “complicated products” need is important to sell them. The first generation iPhone 27 is introducing a brain implant mode. It’s never been done before so you’re going to have to trust Apple knows what it’s doing…

Health services – if products are services affect your body especially in a permanent nature, a significant amount of trust and credibility drives purchasing decisions. Things like LASIK or other cosmetic surgeries fall into this camp. My last (negative) experience with a new dentist made me realize that dentists trade on trust all the same.

Commonly complained about services – if you’ve ever hired a contractor to do work on your home, you’ve at least heard horror stories. Consultants in any industry many time unfairly carry an industry-wide stigma of being wasteful. Any business that occupies an industry where bad actors have sullied reputations have even more pressure to generate goodwill as soon as they can.

Strategies to generate trust

Brand – direct-to-consumer companies like Casper, Warby Parker, and Seed (mentioned above) are fantastic on relying on this method of generating trust. Seed creates literature and imagery that forms a scientific yet warm feeling for its customers which helps create the trust needed to purchase a medicinal product. Companies don’t create brand with just a pretty website and a strong brand does not happen overnight.

Customer service – comprehensive and readily available support for customers goes a long way to establishing credibility. Consider starting by creating a library of easily accessible documents to your FAQs. Investment in real time support builds more trust as consumers know that the business is invested in your successful use of the product or service. Today products like Drift and Intercom make synchronous customer support on web easy and video chats help remote onboarding work as personal as possible.

Humanization – in the age of shopify, wordpress, and digital advertising, consumers can be wary of products or services that are digital only. Being unable to touch a product or speak to person keeps trust levels low. Doing anything to humanize the company can help introduce trust to the equation. Profile photos in email signatures, photos or videos of employees, attendance at conferences, and speaking engagements are few examples of ways companies have been able to humanize themselves and generate trust.

1-on-1 interaction – while not always scalable, meeting customers on a 1-to-1 basis can be incredibly powerful at generating trust and credibility. Have you ever had a store or restaurant owner introduce herself? The impact of seeing someone face-to-face and making eye contact can’t be understated.

Testimonials & Reviews – according to a study by TripAdvisor, 94% of diners in the United States will choose restaurants based on reviews. Consumers look to their peers when deciding what businesses to trust. There are many strategies to leveraging these for your business from incentivizing customers to post reviews to capturing their words and presenting them in content yourself (written quotes or videos).

Driving trust with Tape

One of the common themes above is how much trust can be driven via personal interactions. One of the challenges in that pursuit is finding tools that help accomplish personal interactions at scale. At Tape we’ve been excited to promote the effectiveness of vertical video over the personal channel of text messaging

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