How To Establish Customer Trust When You Are Just Launching Your Business

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Establishing trustworthiness can be tricky when you have just launched. Customers you are reaching out to may not be ready to work with you unless you have built some reputation. At the same time, it can be difficult for a newly launched business to build reputation till they have actually served some customers.

So what comes first – building reputation or finding customers? As these stories from Uber and Airbnb show, it is always finding customers that comes first. This is because, you cannot build sustainable reputation without having served real customers. When these initial customers like your product or service, they are likely to refer your business to their network and this sets the tone for the growth of your business.

There are several ways to find your very first customers. The strategy used by Uber and Airbnb revolve around identifying occasions where conventional services (taxis and hotels respectively) were not able to cater to peak demand. These startups used these occasions to provide an alternative to distraught customers. When supply is far less than demand, customers are less likely to look at trustworthiness of a business. Other ways to build a customer base include offering your product at a discount (or free), partnering with other service providers with a complementary offering and also hard selling to individual customers.

Once you have gained the initial traction, it is time to use your experience with these few customers to build a reputation. There is more than one way to do it:

Testimonials: Request your first few customers for testimonials that you can now use to demonstrate credibility in front of your newer customers.

Request For Referrals: Were your customers happy with what they were offered? Request to be referred to their friends and family who could benefit from your service. You could also create incentives by providing them discount vouchers in exchange for these referrals.

While such strategies may work for businesses that have very short gestation period, it may not work for others that have lengthy product development time. In such cases, it doesn’t make sense for businesses to invest months into developing a product without building customer trust during this period. Not doing this would mean pushing off customer acquisition to several months after the launch of business – this could impact your monetization plan, funding and could also provide sufficient time for competition to get ready.

One of the best ways to tackle this is PR. For instance, when VIDGO, an internet based TV streaming service made their beta launch, they specifically reached out to the Netflix watching crowd via technology media outlets like Tech.co and Mashable. This way, the company was able to reach out to influencers who would then help spread the word about the new service to the mainstream cable TV watching population.

Another way to do PR is by telling your story. Businesses can create anticipation and interest among customers through great story-telling. This is also a great way to bring potential customers to your website and building an email list. This way, you can build trust over time by sharing updates about your product development with these interested list of prospects. Doing so, you may already have garnered a significant number of interested customers when you launch.

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