Building genuine trust in the Digital World is not that hard if you don’t abscond digitally. The message in this blog is specifically for the sales professionals, but learnings can be applied by anyone who is keen to learn about building trust in the digital world.
Let us start by looking at how we buy a service in a digital world.
When you need a service and you do not know anyone who provides that service, it’s most likely that you will ask friends for a recommendation. If your friends have no recommendations, you turn to the mighty internet and start searching.
You find a few organisations who provide the service you are looking for and you go to the Contact Us page of their website with an intent to enquire about your needs.
On the Contact Us page of the website, there is an enquiry form that gets sent to a random enquiries@…. email. You write some basic information on what you need and then you wait for a response.
As soon as you get an acknowledgment from someone (not an automated message) in a reasonable amount of time, you feel good. This is where trust takes its embryonic stage. You now know Maria from that organisation and not enquiries.
Maria ascertains your needs via email and writes back, “I will be able to send you a proposal in the next 24 hours”. This is where you build the second layer of trust. Someone is committing to respond within a certain amount of time.
Now, there are two possibilities, either you do not hear from Maria in the next 24 hours or you get a proposal. If you get the proposal, the third layer of trust is built. Delivering as promised.
Whilst you are in touch with Maria, another company who you had sent an enquiry to, responds, albeit 4 days later. You still go ahead and ask for the proposal because you are keen to compare the costs.
The representative of the second organisation doesn’t commit to a timeline in which the proposal will be submitted and sends a proposal in 3 days time.
The interesting thing however, is that the investment considerations with the second organisation are 50% lower than Maria’s organisation. You feel like you should maximise your profit and go with the second company. So, you write back asking a few questions. 2 days go by, and no response.
In the meantime, Maria picks up the phone and asks your views on the proposal she had submitted. You express your concerns with the costs. She suggests some ways to get the cost down. There are some questions you ask to which she admits that she is not sure of but confirms with you a time in which she will get back to you, and she does. This is where the fourth layer of trust is built. Maria could have very easily not done anything after submitting the proposal, but she continues to communicate.
You are wondering why the other organisation has not responded to your query. You write an email following up. No response, they are absconding! Finally, on the 3rd day they write back agreeing to reduce the costs even further.
You are tempted to confirm with them. The price is too good to refuse but you do not trust them.
Because they have a habit of absconding.
So, in the end, you make a decision to pay more than double the price and go with Maria’s organisation.
So, what is the point I am making?
In the past, we met the clients face to face, called them on landlines, physically dropped contracts to their offices for signatures. But now, our ways of communicating are all digital, such as email, whatsapp, wechat, etc.
The key differentiator is that, in these digital ways of communicating, we can ignore people and not respond very easily. In the past, there was a limited scope to abscond.
And people who do not digitally abscond are the ones who will build the most trust today.
Even if you don’t have an answer, communicate
Even if you have not been able to meet the deadline, communicate
Even if you are not able to reduce the cost, communicate
Even if you have messed up big time, communicate
Trust is defined as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. In a digital world, just turning up and not absconding is an easy and genuine way to build trust.
Despite many web experts’ advice on not having my email and mobile number on my website’s Contact Us page, I continue to do that. You can have a look at it here. I do not want people who are interested in my services to speak to Enquiries when I exist.
"I attended your story telling course some time back. And I've enjoyed keeping up my knowledge with your blog. You may not have realised however, that the Whole of Government is implementing Internet Seperation. Hence I'm not able to access the links to read your articles. Could I suggest including a QR code in your emails so that I can use my mobile to scan it and gain immediate access to the article? It would be most helpful"