by Stephen Abbott of Abbott Media Group
People will do business with those that they trust. Public Relations can help to build that trust.
There are several ways a business can begin to build trust with their customers and future (potential) customers. Among them are Consistency, Courtesy, Care, and Community Involvement.
Being Consistent is critically important to a business. There's a reason why restaurants, pet stores, hotels, and hardware chains, among others, are so popular. Ideally, they offer consistent service and products offered professionally in multiple locations. Customers know they can get the same products and services offered for about the same price, wherever they go. For some, that may seem "boring," but customers actually yearn for boring over the alternative: inconsistent service and the inability to get their favorite products. Public Relations professionals can guide a business to accept and disseminate internal policies and standard graphics and messaging that will help create a consistent experience for customers.
Courtesy is also an important factor in building Trust. If service is offered in a cold manner, or worse, in a rude manner, the bond of Trust between a customer and a business is broken. This is even the case in a long-term relationship. There's no such thing anymore as a small incident of discourteous conduct. Even one incident in which a customer is treated poorly can ruin a company's reputation in this era of instant online reviews. A Public Relations professional can help isolate and identify areas in which internal standards aren't being met, and can, once those are addressed, help repair and rebuild Trust with customers who experienced a lack of courtesy during a business transaction.
Care is shown in a multitude of ways by a business, and customers recognize when it's not there, contributing to a lack of Trust. Products or services offered in a sloppy, slapdash way can instantly signal to the customer that the business doesn't really care about them. Caring isn't a small thing, it's a major thing, and in fact, should be the top concern of any business. If you're not in business to care for the customer, why are you in business at all? Care can be demonstrated by proper training and internal messaging that makes it clear that business owners have high expectations of their employees. PR can deliver those messages in a compelling and clear way that leaves no doubt that Care is required from everyone.
Finally, Community Involvement can be a tremendous trust-building tool. While some effort should be made not to alienate a customer base with involvement with overtly political or controversial causes, showing concern for one's community is more than a gimmick to grab headlines. Instead, it shows that a business is intimately tied to the community in which they do business, and that they care about their customers' well-being, more than just as a source of cash. Public Relations professionals can help identify community activities that reflect well on a business and help show that concern that leads to stronger feelings of trust with their current and future customers.
For more information about building Trust, visit Abbott Media Group at www.abbottmediagroup.com.