Every buyer-seller relationship is built on a foundation of trust. When a customer gives you their money, they need to trust that your product or service will deliver on the promises made during the sales process.
In fact, research shows there’s a 60% chance a customer will make multiple purchases from the same company (source). The reason for this is simple: People want to buy from businesses they know they can trust.
Unfortunately, the trust between a company and a customer can, and occasionally does, break. A single mistake or miscommunication can turn a customer away from your company. But, losing a customer’s trust shouldn’t be viewed as the end of the road.
If you’ve lost a customer’s trust and want to get it back, keep reading! Today’s blog post breaks down key steps to regain trust and create an even stronger relationship with your customer. Let’s get into it!
Why do customers lose trust?
Despite hard work and good intentions, it’s quite easy to lose a customer’s trust. This can happen for a number of reasons. Let’s take look at a few examples:
- Your product didn’t meet expectations: After using your product, the customer realized that it didn’t meet their needs. This can make the customer doubt the quality of your products and even make them believe you purposely misled them throughout the sales process.
- The customer received unsatisfactory service: Poor communication can quickly ruin a customer’s experience. If they don’t receive timely answers to their questions, or speak with a rude or unprepared sales rep, they won’t view your company as one that values its customers.
- You overpromised: The product was what they expected, but they didn’t receive the exact results you promised during your pitch. The customer believes you oversold the product or were dishonest for the sake of convincing them to make a purchase.
Keep in mind, customer satisfaction and customer trust are directly linked. In fact, a 10% increase in a company’s customer satisfaction leads to a 12% increase in customer trust (source).
How to win back a customer’s trust
Every customer is different, so unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to winning back their trust. But, it’s important to have a strategy in place to use when things go wrong. Here are some general steps to mend relationships with a customer after losing their trust.
1. Determine the source of the problem.
Before you can regain a customer’s trust, you must understand why it was lost in the first place. Only then can you take the proper steps to remedy the issue.
Some customers are direct—they voice their displeasure and tell you why they have lost trust in your company. But, more often than not, customers simply move on to a competitor. A recent study showed that roughly 4% of customers that were “wronged” by a company complain, while the other 96% stop buying and tell their peers about the problem (source).
Here are a few ways to collect customer feedback in a constructive way:
- Automated satisfaction surveys: Develop a system to automatically offer a customer satisfaction survey to collect the information you need to fix the problem at hand. Depending on your particular offering, this survey may come in the form of an email after a customer cancels your services. Or, if a customer cancels online, offer the survey as part of the cancellation process.
- Customer service follow up: After every customer service interaction, send out a service through your various communication channels to determine how satisfied each customer is with the help they received. This will help you identify your customer service team’s strengths and weaknesses—and subsequently help you improve your approach over time.
- Review websites: A customer may not complain directly to you—instead, they often take to review sites like Yelp and G2Crowd to voice their complaints. For this reason, we recommend you monitor popular review sites and take note of common complaints. This will give you an idea of what needs fixing and if you have individual customer names, you can reach out directly to remedy the situation.
- Acknowledge inactive customers: No matter what your company sells, try to regularly assess customer engagement and activity levels. For example, if you sell software—try to interpret usage patterns. Does customer activity often slow three months before cancellation? Metrics like this can help you pinpoint which customers are most at risk of canceling. That way, you can prevent loss of trust before it even happens.
2. Own up to your mistakes.
Once you’ve identified the problem—whether it’s a general problem that plagues a group of customers or a unique scenario impacting only one customer—you must always own up to your mistakes and take responsibility. The easiest way to lose a customer for life is to become defensive or refuse to take the blame for an issue.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes: What would you want to hear after losing trust in a company you’re buying from? Would you want them to make excuses, or be empathetic to your situation and take full ownership of their mistake? The answer is easy.
Apologizing may seem like a simple step, but it’s an essential way to rebuild your relationship with an unsatisfied customer. In fact, studies show that when an apology is perceived as genuine, customer satisfaction increases 10 – 15 % (source).
3. Take the appropriate steps to correct the problem.
Remember: an apology is a nice gesture, but it must be followed up with action. At this point, you have identified the reason you lost the trust of a customer and you’ve apologized for the problem– now it’s time to keep the problem from occurring again. It’s likely that the individual customer’s problem is indicative of a flaw in your overall process– so if you don’t take action, future customers will encounter similar issues.
Be sure to get the customer feedback throughout this process. Ask if there is anything your company can do to improve the customer experience. Then, provide a step-by-step breakdown of the changes you plan to make, so customers have tangible proof that your company takes concerns seriously.
4. Offer an additional incentive.
After you’ve lost a customer’s trust, it’s not enough to simply fix the problem. You should over-deliver and provide service that goes above and beyond what the customer expects. Never underestimate the power of a gift– whether it’s a discount, a coupon, or a free sample, etc.
When you give your customer something for free, it shows that you appreciate your customers and go above and beyond to right your wrongs. Believe it or not, discounts and coupons are the top-ranking tactic to boost customer loyalty (source).
Now that we’ve outlined the steps to regaining customer trust, let’s look at a hypothetical example to tie it all together.
A customer has a question about a product they recently purchased. They fail to find helpful information on your site, and when they reach out via social media, it takes days to get a response. As a result, they believe your company is only interested in making new sales and doesn’t prioritize its existing customers. This customer takes to a popular review site to voice their negative opinion.
You see this review and reach out to speak with the customer about the lackluster customer service. You answer the customer’s original question and also let them that you will address the issue. First, you develop a plan to make your product-specific content more readily available on your website. You also implement a chat tool so that customers can have questions answered in real time. Finally, you offer the customer an extended free trial of another product you’re about to launch.
Following this experience, you make a concerted effort to monitor social engagement more closely.
There is no single solution to regain a customer’s trust. And of course, some customers unfortunately just won’t return. But, a well-defined strategy and a little empathy can go a long way. Don’t give up on your customers after a minor setback or mistake.
Mistakes can often be a blessing in disguise– they show you which areas to improve and help you better understand the needs of your customers.
About the Author: Sam Holzman is the Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo where he writes for their B2B blog. ZoomInfo is a leading contact database that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. Sam regularly covers topics related to sales, marketing, and recruiting, and likes to write about sports and travel in his free time.