The Three Ways Your Digital Presence Can Build — Or Break — Customer Trust

A majority of customers start their journey online. Brands need to build trust with their digital presence right away.

By Lauryn Chamberlain

Apr 9, 2024

5 min
The Three Ways Your Digital Presence Can Build — Or Break — Customer Trust

Customers are looking for trustworthy brands: according to Edelman, 67% of people say they must trust a brand before they'll continue buying its products or services. But research shows that only 50% of customers had confidence in the brands they did business with in 2023.

That's a problem. As Northwestern University puts it, "the concept of brand trust can often be overlooked in favor of short-term goals, but it's a crucial piece of marketing strategy. Trust and loyalty… go hand-in-hand in customers' minds; when they're looking for a product or service, they'll know exactly where to go."

How can brands close their trust gap? With a majority of customers starting their journey online, brands should start with improving their digital presence.

Here are three key areas where your brand's digital presence is helping you win or lose trust — and what you can do about it.

How to build trust when customers look for your brand

Managing your digital information everywhere it appears digitally is critical to surfacing the right answers to customers and not damaging your relationship with them. Customers largely trust search engines to provide them with accurate information, and a reported 83% of customers use Google Search to learn about local businesses. But what happens if the information that they find is misleading or incorrect?

Let's say someone searches for "restaurants near me that are open Tuesday and good for dates." They're showing strong intent to visit a restaurant on Tuesday night with a date, and they'll likely choose a restaurant that shows up in local search based on that criteria.

Your restaurant won't show up if it isn't clear to Google – via robust and accurate information on your website and across a broad network of listings publishers – that you have a location nearby, open on Tuesday, with a romantic atmosphere. If you are managing all of that information, then you're 2.3x more likely to appear in local search compared to your competitors.

Imagine if that searcher calls your restaurant – or worse, shows up with their date – only to find it closed on Tuesdays because your hours were out of date. That experience leads to broken trust and a likely win for a competitor.

Don't let an incorrect answer about your location, hours, or offerings be the reason someone gets frustrated with you: verifying brand data accuracy and consistency across all — not some — of these sources will be key to marketing success in 2024 and beyond.

Learn more about how to boost discoverability and improve your local marketing.

How to build trust when customers talk about your brand

If the first step to building brand trust is showing up reliably and accurately when customers search for you, the second is how you manage what customers say about you — by monitoring and responding to them on review sites.

More customers than ever look to these platforms when evaluating a brand, with 95% of customers reading online reviews before buying a product. A series of negative reviews can easily damage trust if you aren't actively managing your brand reputation: a whopping 99% of customers read online reviews as part of their search.

Research suggests that responding to 60–80% of your reviews is optimal for the greatest impact on customer engagement and star rating increase. This includes responding to the negative reviews - don't ignore ones that can show existing customers that you are open to feedback, and potential customers that you are improving.

If 60-80% feels daunting, starting at even 10% can be beneficial. If you need to prioritize responses, we suggest starting with ALL 3-star and below detailed reviews with 4-stars or above.

Embracing a review response strategy will help you build trust in the long run and drive revenue, too. According to the Harvard Business School, an increase of 1-star on Yelp can lead to a 5% to 9% increase in revenue.

Start building a reputation management strategy and take control of your reviews today. Learn more.

How to build trust when customers talk to your brand

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the third opportunity to win or lose trust is through customer service interactions.

How is your brand prepared to show up when someone needs to resolve an issue? Research shows that 77% of customers view a brand more positively when they offer self-service options and 73% of customers are likely to abandon a brand after just one poor customer service experience.

Customers are actively trying to solve their issues directly via tools on a brand's website such as search or chat, but it can be difficult for a brand to organize the answers. Many customer issues are unique, which means businesses may have to field thousands of complex support queries - and FAQS won't cut it. And at the same time, support queries have been on the rise.

But there is a better way to manage these customer interactions at scale: AI-powered search. Investing in a search integration on your website can help deliver answers to customers without requiring more costly phone calls or manually sorting through 1,000 page long FAQ lists. With better, AI-powered search on your help site, you could deflect 44% of tickets — freeing your agents up to deliver compassionate, personalized support to the most complex cases. Then, those interactions can be what will keep customers coming back again and again.

Learn more about scaling your customer support in a way that keeps customers coming back.

Conclusion

There are three major phases of the customer journey when your digital presence can be a trust-building hero: when customers search for your brand, talk about your brand (or see what others have to say), and when they talk to you for support.

With the right strategy for delivering a great customer experience both on your website and via third-party platforms, you can improve trust and retain customers — a win-win for any brand.

Read next: How To Reach Your Audience On Every Channel

The modern consumer uses many different channels. The modern marketer knows it's all part of the same journey.

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