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September 2011
Building Trust Online
By Kip Cozart

     According to a recent 2010 Pew Research Center survey, over 21 percent of adults in America typically search online for product information in a given day, and nearly six in ten adults (60 percent) at least occasionally search the Web to make important product and service purchase decisions. While there is certainly no shortage of information available online, many consumers remain nervous and skeptical about encountering potential false claims, misleading offers, and dangerous scams that might rob them of their cash and credit identities when first connecting to an unknown company.

     As a business competing over the Web, how do you successfully convert increasing online shopper activity into actual sales? How do you inspire confidence in your products and encourage potential new customers to safely engage with you for the first time? Think “Trust Assurance.”

 

     Prove your worthiness with a Better Business Bureau trust seal… As an accredited business, displaying the BBB logo on your website provides instant recognition and clear consumer assurance that your company has agreed to follow proper business standards and practices that ensure the responsible and ethical treatment of your customers. Even if consumers are unfamiliar with your specific business, they know that a BBB-accredited business can be trusted because it adheres to strict codes of conduct and truthful advertising guidelines.

     Online BBB seals link directly to an up-to-date review of your accredited business which is posted independently on the BBB website, providing company history, address and contact information, professional licensing information, as well as a record of any consumer BBB complaints and if those complaints were resolved. Businesses are also graded on a simple reliability rating scale, ranging from “A+” to “F.” A good accredited business report can be verified with a linkable BBB seal to offer immediate reassurance to any consumers when visiting your website. For more information about BBB accreditation, visit www.bbb.org.

     There are other supplemental security certifications available that may be purchased from reputable vendors that can further promote consumer confidence online. Companies like BizRate.com, buySafe.com, McAfeeSECURE.com, InternetConsumerGuard.com, TrustGuard.com and others offer useful paid verification programs. Ecommerce websites that collect sensitive credit card information must offer greater assurance by displaying trust seals from a well-known online transaction agency, such as Verisign.com TRUSTe.com, Authorize.net, Google Checkout and PayPal.com.

     Strengthen your online presence by identifying your physical location using Google Places… Creating a Google Places listing for your business and embedding an interactive map and link within your website provides instant, visual proof that your business operates from an established physical location. It is especially important to counter consumer fear that an unknown online business may be operating from overseas and thus is not necessarily subject to U.S. law and banking regulations.

     Setup of a Google Places listing is free and may contain an uploaded image of your storefront or products. The Google Maps interface also offers a satellite view of your location, further confirming your physical location.

     Reinforce customer trust within the “fine print” in your website... You will encourage greater confidence and generate more sales simply by presenting clear customer service details. Make sure to include prominent, upfront content about your sales and service policies, guarantees, as well as your privacy and data security practices.

     Incorporate photos of actual customer service team members, adding a degree of friendly and approachable familiarity to your Web presentation. Consider posting unedited customer reviews and satisfaction rankings within your website, demonstrating your willingness to stand behind the quality of your products. And, include an easy way for customers to directly contact key company representatives so that any potential service issues can be easily addressed and resolved.

     Content contributed by CC Communications, a Web design, programming and Internet media company providing a full array of services to businesses and organizations to enhance and produce effective Web, email, multimedia marketing initiatives and business process improvements. For more information, contact Kip Cozart at 704-543-1171 or visit www.cccommunications.com/resources_articles.cfm.

 

 

 

Kip Cozart is CEO of CC Communications, a Web design, programming and Internet media company.
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