How designing for trust helps you grow (or keep) your business
Read more by Martijn Krenn
It’s much easier to design for trust, to reinforce the trusting relationship you’ve built over the years, with the design of your website, app or product. This does not only apply to established companies. At first, a new player on the market will convince the early adopters to choose them, but at some point they’re going to need more to win over customers, and then will also be forced to think about designing for trust.
Designing for trust mostly comes down to being client-focused and transparent. You can do this on multiple levels: process, priorities, explanation and interaction. I will use examples to explain the different levels.
Process: listen to your clients
If you want a customer to trust your online product or service, you need to know what they need and care about. Talk to your customers about the context in which they use your product – interview them or conduct a survey, for example. Ask about their needs, their issues and why they use your product. Only when you understand this context can you adjust your offer to the needs of the customer and be a reliable partner for them. For example, the online collaboration platform, Miro, has been talking to its customers and found out that their users also use online video tools for work. That is why they have developed integrations that make it possible to easily collaborate in Miro from Teams or Zoom.
Another way of finding out how (potential) customers experience your product, is through contact and feedback via your website or app. A company that’s available for questions or complaints radiates confidence. It also provides valuable insights when you collect data using a feedback widget, like Usabilla or Hotjar. You can then use these insights to make improvements to your product or service.
Priorities: focusing on your client will (eventually) prove valuable to your business
The best products or services emerge from that sweet spot where value for the business, value for the customer and technical possibilities come together. Maintaining a healthy balance can be difficult sometimes: a functionality that a customer needs doesn’t always mean direct value for the company, like with canceling a subscription, for example. The company naturally prefers to keep the customer, but the customer wants to be able to fix this easily. Mealbox provider, HelloFresh, received a lot of negative attention a few years back because it was difficult for customers to cancel their subscription, which caused a drop in trust in the brand. The company has since improved this and is regaining some of their lost popularity.
As a product or service supplier, it’s tempting to try and generate more revenue through cross-selling and up-selling. There’s nothing wrong with that, but randomly telling customers what else you have to offer is more irritating than profitable. It instills more trust (and, with that, generates conversion) to showcase an offer when it actually adds value for the customer.
Graydon’s online platform for business data (Graydon Insights), for example, offers a range of tools that the customer pays separately. INFO is working on a cross-selling strategy in which we use one tool to promote another at exactly the right time. The customer can choose whether or not they want to pay extra for this additional functionality.
It pays to make the interests of customers just a little bit more important than the interests of the business. A satisfied customer is more likely to recommend the product or service they used to others and to talk positively about it. It builds trust when the customer can feel how important they are to you and that their needs matter.
Explanation: being transparent at the right time
Companies want to tell their customers about what they have to offer and convince them that that is exactly what they need. Keep in mind that customers are mainly interested in information that is relevant to them.
A (new) customer who uses or is about to use your product doesn’t only want to know what the product has to offer or how it’s unique compared to competing brands, they also want to know about the process behind the scenes. Be honest about where you get your information or other resources, what happens with personal data that a customer leaves behind or how your company benefits from a seemingly ‘free’ product. With the Dyme app you can link your bank accounts and draw up a digital household book. On their website they clearly explain what happens to customer data, how they process it securely and how they guarantee privacy. They are less transparent, however, about how Dyme benefits from the free app exactly. After some research, the cat came out of the bag: the basic version is free and the user can upgrade the app to a paid premium version with more functionalities. Be clear about all the steps in the process that are relevant to your customer (such as origin of information, privacy, what’s free and what’s not, etc.).
Interaction: honest information
While using your online product, you probably want to encourage your customer to make a transaction or to interact (like leaving personal data). Perhaps you’re even using persuasion principles to nudge your customer in the right direction. A well-known example is showing scarcity on a booking site (“Only 2 rooms left!”) in the hopes of someone booking quicker. However, you can miss the mark in terms of trust. A British study shows that some persuasion principles (such as scarcity) actually have the opposite effect and evoke distrust in half of the visitors. So always use these kinds of principles with integrity, and focus on helping the customer rather than forcing a transaction.
Also, people don’t like negative surprises. A customer can become frustrated if it turns out that they have to pay for a certain transaction that was not disclosed beforehand. From conversations we had with users of the Graydon Insights platform, it appears that this can be a reason to cancel a subscription.
Customer needs and transparency
Through continuously applying these principles – customer needs and transparency – in the development of your online product, you maintain and strengthen the trust of the customer. This increases the chance of retaining or even growing your market share and maintaining the lead over competitors.
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