Nine Steps to Building Trust Online & Offline for Your Small Business

Building TrustThe process of client acquisition is rarely a short, straight line. Given the wide range of vendors and suppliers available, a potential client can easily veer off course on its path to buying your product or service—especially when making a virtual connection.

A recent study by IBM showed 84% of consumers rely on social networks and online search for their buying decisions – even when buying a product or service offline. In fact, in January of 2013, Cisco reported that online ratings and comments were the most significant factor in a consumers buying decision. Given the growing trends, isn't it worth taking the time to build trust online and offline? 

Prospective clients pass through various stages of assurance when interacting with your company. Each stage provides an opportunity to develop trust and move a prospective client to a satisfied client. When executed successfully, each succeeding step develops more trust and establishes the credibility you need to sustain long-lasting relationships.

Although the originator of these powerful nine steps in unknown, we’d like to give a big ‘shout out’ to recognize their contribution to building trust online and offline.

A client moves from:

  1. Unaware to aware when a person sees your Web site, receives a forwarded email/fax from a friend, or reads a story about you.
  2. Aware to curious when a person is touched/affected by the title or content from something you provide.
  3. Curious to interested when a person discovers something you provide that might help them.
  4. Interested to believing when a person begins to believe that the business owner/company is real/legitimate.
  5. Believing to wanting when a person sees what you are doing/offering and wants to move forward to see what you have to offer.
  6. Wanting to in-motion when a person responds to something you have offered and replies by phone/fax/email. This is a very BIG step.
  7. In-motion to buyer when a person believes/trusts you, wants the product/service you provide, and begins to pay you.
  8. Buyer to satisfied customer when a person is happy with the product/service you provide and their trust in you is rewarded.
  9. Satisfied customer to advocate when a person gets more/better service/benefits than they expected and it occurs on many occasions. He or she then begins to refer you to others.

Move a client from being unaware of your company to being an advocate for your company by systematically building awareness, trust, and confidence across the nine stages of trust development.

What upgrades would strengthen trust between you and your clients?