Building Credibility with Your Small Business Customers

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credibilityIf you’re going to get people to do business with you there are two things your customer must feel:

  • Belief
  • Trust

Before anyone is going to be willing to open their wallet, swipe their card, or sign a check they need to have a strong belief in your small business. They need to believe that your business can meet their needs and help them solve their problems. They need to feel they can trust that the primary driver of your business is serving their best interests – not just to “sell” them something. When a prospect or customer feels they can both believe in as well as trust your small business that customer is likely to choose your small business when making a purchasing decision.

In other words, a credible small business is a successful small business.

In a sense when a customer chooses to buy from it very similar to a politician winning someone’s vote. People are much more likely to vote for someone they find credible – someone they can both believe in and trust. As a matter-of-fact, many attribute today’s voter apathy to a lack of credibility. However, in the final analysis, people vote for the person who appears to be the person who they can have the most belief and trust in when compared to others in the running.

Today’s consumers tend to display the same approach when making a buying decision. When researching what business to buy from they are looking to find a business they find most credible. So the question becomes: What are the qualities of a credible small business?

Transparency
Credibility inspires belief and people find it easier to “believe” things they have either seen or experienced. This is why transparency is so important when it comes to establishing credibility in your small business. Therefore, all relationships with prospects and customers must be conducted in a “transparent environment.” Examples of a transparent environment include never over-promising. It also means clearly explaining policies and procedures (such as returns and refunds.)

Integrity
A core component of credibility is acting with integrity. Principles and values serve to guide behavior and when someone acts with integrity it means they are in possession of, as well as adhere to, high-order principles and values. Therefore, it is imperative that a small business has established both clear principles and identified the values that drive the “behavior” of their business.

Competence
Consumers want to know that they are purchasing the best possible product or service for their money. A small business owner builds credibility by consistently demonstrating their expertise and experience. Additionally, every small business needs to develop a set of core competencies that set them apart from their competition. Expertise, experience, and competencies can be demonstrated to prospects and customers in a variety of ways; for instance via social media marketing communications including blog posting, white papers, E-books, and videos. Competence is also communicated via customer testimonials and reviews.
Authenticity

When someone makes a purchase they tend to want to give their money to someone they feel has a genuine interest in their well-being. Small business owners build credibility in their business when they make it a practice to include authenticity in every interaction with a customer or client.

Certainly people would prefer to buy from someone that likes them and that they like; however, unauthentic attempts to convince a prospect or customer that you like them are not only distasteful, they render the credibility of the business suspect. Instead, consumers find demonstrations of true empathy and reliability to be indicative of a credible company they’d feel comfortable doing business with.

Transparent, integrity, competence, and authenticity aren’t the only qualities your small business must demonstrate in order to build credibility. However, they do serve as a strong foundation upon which to build credibility with prospects and customers.

Last modified: April 7, 2013
Annie Kile


This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

Category: advertising, Insider's perspective, MPR Authored, Small Business, Small Business Corner, small business owners, tips

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