In the absence of bricks and mortar and a shop front it can be difficult as a consumer to know who to trust online, particularly if you have no previous experience or dealings with a company. From a business or brand perspective: are you ensuring that you are trusted online in order to maximise sales and expand your customer base?
Google is the number 1 tool for consumer research with around 3.5 billion searches per day occurring worldwide. This means it’s important to understand which factors signify how trusted you are online. If your customer has seen your name and searches online for you then the following will apply:
Your web presence
Does your company have a professional website? What information is provided here in terms of address, location, email and landline phone number. An obvious physical business location is reassuring. Do you have a company registration with Companies House, VAT number or any visible accreditations? A complete and optimised Google My Business listing along with a photograph will also help to verify your existence in the real world!
Who runs the business and do you promote yourself and your team? Are you happy to share information, images and personal profiles on your website and across other business listings and social media? Trusted companies tend to be those who share their own personal story; their skills and experience, ethos and the inspiration behind what they do.
Your customer service
What guarantees do customers have in terms of returning an item or quality the quality of your product or service – do you state your returns policy and terms and conditions openly; do you use a secure payment method on your site? What happens if things do go wrong – can you answer your customers’ questions and queries and in a timely and pleasant manner? When the issues are resolved, do you confirm online ? This signifies to others that you can and will resolve issues.
Ignored and unresolved customer concerns cause negative outbursts. Particularly, this happens on social media or an online forum, such as Money Saving Expert and Trip Advisor. These sites rank highly in Google due to the number of daily visitors and comments being added. This means it’s worth resolving customer issues and questions in a timely manner. Any comments or threads on these sites regarding your business will remain visible in Google for a long time. Remember, social media has created a culture of immediacy. Most of us (particularly millennials) will to expect a response within an hour!
Having identified a product or service, customers will tend to look for secondary reassurance before they buy. Products with a good star rating on review sites or positive comments on forums naturally influence consumers. If your customers are searching for a product or service, a listing on Google My Business and a review strategy is key to being trusted online.
Are you trusted online?
As an example, I searched for “builders in Leeds”. This created an extensive list of local firms listed with Google My Business at the top of the page. I discounted the paid Google ad at the top. Google only showed me three builders, so I used the option to expand. I chose those with 4 or 5 stars. I selected the first independent builder with 5 stars to view – most didn’t have any. There were on closer inspection only 3 reviews – all with no comments and obscure names. I discounted this company as i wasn’t confident they were genuine. company. The only other builder with 5 stars only had one review, although their website showed photos and a number of recent projects which was reassuring. I can only conclude that most builders are either not great at promoting themselves online in terms of reviews or they don’t need the business.
A search for “coffee shops” in Leeds however, was a different story. Hundreds of listings all with 4 or 5 stars and most with in excess of 40 reviews. Here the volume of positive reviews appeared to influence listing position.
Do you have a review policy?
There are instances of fake reviews and reviews from customers who are difficult to please. In general, however, you can trust a responsive business with a good overall level of feedback. Similarly, no comments or reviews can also raise questions. It is worth inviting customers to review your product or service regularly. Correspondingly, positive testimonials and reviews influence the reputation of a business. It is worth dedicating time and resource to monitoring and managing these to build a trustworthy reputation. To find out more about online reputation management, have a look at Igniyte’s report on The Business of Reviews or contact Igniyte to learn about how our partnership with Trustpilot can help you.
Head of Client Services and Managing Partner at Igniyte – The Reputation Experts
Roz is an industry spokesperson on all areas of online reputation management and our resident digital media expert. She regularly writes about reputation management research, online reputation risk and industry best practice.