Gaining Customer's Confidence

Viktor Smirnoff

The Internet is a now a tangled web. There are many dark alleys and dangerous places. The average surfer is becoming more and more aware of problems such as web bugs, email taps, invasive web site monitoring – the list goes on.

It is getting more difficult to convince our visitors that we are not there to fleece them, rip them off or con them. I guess you can't blame people, there are many among us that will. We've found this out the hard way in recent times through dealings with some of our merchant advertisers. It doesn't seem to matter the size or stature of the ‘dotcom,’ corruption is rife throughout the online world - just as it is in the physical world.

How can you reassure your visitors that you have good intentions?

Forget Photoshop
Not so long ago, a professional veneer on your site would convince many visitors that you are in fact professional. If you are in the process of developing a site for your business, don't take this as being the case any more. No longer can a designer take a Photoshop image CD and make a small operation look like a Fortune 500 company - people aren't that stupid. In fact, a seasoned surfer can spot a Photoshop image a mile away! Use some originality if you are going to use images - use photos of "real" humans; the staff in your business, tasteful shots of yourself, etc. (with clothes on). If you have a presentable bricks and mortar location, include a couple of shots of the building.

Commit to Visitor Privacy
Another way to gain the trust of web visitors is with the introduction of a Privacy Statement. It is a declaration to your visitors about what your site contains. The privacy statement also declares what type of information you gather from your visitors and how you use it.

If you have read a Privacy Statement, you may feel that you need a team of lawyers and a huge bank balance to draft one! Actually, you can make them up free of charge using a number of generators available on the web. The generators take you through the process, step by step, with explanations of the various sections that you should complete. Do a search on “Privacy Statement Generators” for a current list of options.

Have A Company Profile Page
Whether you are a one person operation, totally reliant on cyberspace, or a traditional bricks and mortar organization, visitors have a natural curiosity of what goes on behind the scenes of your business – especially before they purchase. A company profile page will establish a great deal of credibility for your online representation.

A company profile or "about us" page shouldn't contain too much hype. It needs to give visitors a sense of who you are, where you have been and where you are heading as a business. "We're No.1" doesn't cut it. Your company profile page should express your stand on customer service, product/service quality, and any important affiliations you have with other well known companies.

“Contact Us”
Before someone will purchase your offerings, they will want to be assured that their purchase will be supported with good after-sales service. It is very important that at every available opportunity, you encourage people to contact you with their questions. Often they will send you a question when they already have the answer just to test you out, so ensure you respond to them rapidly. If possible, include telephone and fax numbers on your company profile page.

Satisfaction Guaranteed
Refunds – the word that sends shivers down the back of any marketer. Nevertheless, the offer of a refund on goods and services will be the deciding factor in many purchases, and also lends to your credibility. The offer of a refund tells a customer that you are confident in your product and that you have represented it properly. While the offer of a refund may not be viable in some cases, it should be a part of your business policies wherever possible. And if you use the strategy, flaunt it! Don't tuck it away in the fine print for fear that people will actually take advantage of the offer.

Have you ever been in a busy marketplace in the physical world? People use all sort of tactics to get your attention and your dollars. In the virtual world it's much the same. We need to employ special coding tactics to attract search engines and to structure our pages to hold the interest of our visitors. Now take the eye candy one step further to increase your sales. Add another string to your marketing strategy bow.

Add honesty, integrity and transparent business processes to your site; it will pay dividends.