This is a sponsored post by MightyCall. MightyCall’s virtual phone system is an effective and cheap way for any entrepreneur to look professional and organize their company’s communications.
The state of consumer affairs is in an unusual place at the moment. The 2018 report from the Edelman Trust Barometer, which measures consumer trust and opinions from around the world, shows yet another year of the population’s falling faith in business.
The descent of consumer trust in the United States has been steady, but the figures hit a new low last year, when just 48% of respondents said they trust businesses. Conversely, a wide-ranging study out of Georgetown University in fall 2018 noted that Amazon was the most trusted institution in America, placing in the top-3 for both Republicans and Democrats.
That puts small businesses in exceedingly dangerous territory; the more people trust giant corporations that already have massive economic advantages, the less they’ll buy from—and even explore—small businesses. Entrepreneurs have the impetus to earn customer trust if they have any hope of building a successful business, and the easiest way to do that is to have a clean, professional image that is relevant to your field. Here are 3 simple ways on how to do just that:
A major factor in declining customer trust has been the bombardment of scammers and robocalls—which are now estimated to be about half of all phone calls. Even local numbers are not immune from impersonation, so you need to cover every technical base you have to put customers at ease that their information is safe with you.
PwC’s consumer surveys conclude year after year that, “trust eases fears about online security risks.” That means streamlining your website to be uncluttered and feature simple yet secure financial transactions, whether through PayPal or another major service. As a small business, you need to keep customers up-to-date on the process of their payments and purchases.
For your business phone number, Caller ID is a straightforward but exceedingly useful feature. As Caller ID works through an extensive database of phone numbers, it is harder to spoof than any local or toll-free number. That means that when you call your customers to check in or give updates, they won’t worry about the call being a trick or time-waster.
Aside from keeping your communications safe and clear, customers are drawn more and more to companies that hold the same values as they do; to get your messages out to the public, you should show how your company operates, inside and out.
There is no faster way to lose a customer than by forgetting something about their order or worse, making a mistake in shipping or production. Being an entrepreneur necessitates a level of organization that few other aspects of life demand, which means entrepreneurs should take advantage of any number of tools designed to help them keep their business running smoothly.
For anything beyond the smallest of solo entrepreneur operations, you should be using at least one CRM (customer-relationship management). That doesn’t mean to go rush out and drop $100 on a system, but there are literally thousands of beneficial and affordable ($10-$50 per month range) CRM systems, or adjacent services like virtual phone systems, out there to help balance and manage every aspect of your company, from finances to communications.
Tools like auto-attendants, which can replace live receptionists and provide important information to people who contact your company, and activity feeds, which centralize your business agenda in one place, are game changers that give you more time to focus on finer details.
Be Yourself (and know the limitations of self-promotion)
Per PwC’s 2018 report, 35% of people noted that trusting a brand matters; with overall consumer trust falling, that means resorting to the simplest branding possible for a small business—yourself and your own values and beliefs.
It’s easier for people, especially young people, to get behind a company that presents the people within it rather than a company that promotes itself as a faceless mass of interchangeable parts. The good news for entrepreneurs is that this is easy to do!
Every interaction you have with a customer, every engagement and post on social media and every small detail that goes into a sale or ad campaign will remind customers that there’s a person just like them on the other side of the counter. Showing that level of care for customers is how small businesses compete with the ruthless efficiency of corporate giants.
By sticking to yourself and/or your values as a core of your company’s brand, you avoid overly gimmicky and self-promotional marketing tones that only end up turning many people off your products. By being calm and down to earth, people will see your company as authentic and trustworthy, the first step to forming a customer relationship.