Posted on March 31, 2000
by Kevin SinclairCredibility is one of the most critical factors that will affect your online business success. Being credible is simply the perception of being trustworthy and believable. Why do people buy brand name goods and services on the Internet and in the off-line world? One of the key reasons is that the brand represents a level of quality that they know and trust.
So how can you build credibility on the Internet for your business? A key factor is being consistent. People are more likely to trust a business or person who acts in a similar manner most of the time. For example, if your publish a newsletter to your customers or potential clients, aim for similar quality in each issue. Also, be consistent in your style of writing. Publish on a regular basis - irregular publication schedules cause confusion in the minds of your readers.
Consistency applies to every aspect of your business. Don't change your guarantee terms every couple of weeks. Ensure that all your products or services consistently meet the quality and value standards that your are promoting.
Credibility is something that is earned. Therefore, you need to give of yourself to get trust back in return. There are many ways to do this. Some software businesses offer free trial periods so the customer can try before they buy. Others offer a "shareware" version for people to trial. This process enables the potential customer to check that your product will do the job you say that it will.
Sharing your knowledge is a useful way to build your credibility. This can be done through monitoring discussion lists and boards that your potential customers frequent. Answer questions that they pose. Be a regular contributor to the list so that people come to know and respect your knowledge.
Making outlandish claims in advertisements or on your web site can harm your credibility. Telling the truth is always the best way. Ensure that your products or services provide more value than promised. Take the time to walk in your customers' shoes before writing your ad copy or your web site promotional material. This will enable you to clearly state benefits that your potential customers are looking for in a way that they will find believable.
Testimonials can be a powerful way to generate trust in your product or service. A testimonial is a statement from a happy customer saying how your product or service helped them. Set up systems to gain unsolicited testimonials whenever you can. When you gather testimonials to publish on your site, ensure that you have permission to publish them. Also, never make up testimonials to boost your credibility as more often than not you will be caught out and be discredited.
Don't just state what your qualifications are on your web site or in your promotional material. Instead, state how your qualifications can benefit your potential customers. For example, state how your expertise will provide the solution your prospect needs in a way he or she will understand.
Following sound business practices will help your credibility also. This includes ensure that your business address and phone numbers are clearly shown on your web site. Also, ensure that you are contactable via phone and email and respond promptly to each contact. Have you had phone messages or email that were never responded to? How did that influence your perception of the business?
Prompt delivery of what has been ordered also helps build the right impression of your business. So too does quickly responding to claims on your guarantee. Efficient business procedures that are focused on providing customer satisfaction will always help your business image and credibility.
Strong credibility takes a long time and much effort to build. It can be destroyed quickly and sometimes can never be regained. Have you noticed that once a person or a business gains a bad reputation it can be extremely hard to change? For your business to achieve it's full potential, it is important that you set standards and live by them so that you are constantly building your credibility.
Remember that each thing you do in your business will affect
the image of your business. Being focused on providing
solutions to your customers, providing consistent quality
and value for money, and being accessible will all help you
achieve the credibility your business needs to succeed.
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