The world we live in today has more stress than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty in so many different places. In the business world, customers (consumers, clients, patients, guests, members, etc.) are concerned about who they are doing business with. No industry is immune. It’s impacting all types of businesses—B2B and B2C.
So, what’s a company to do? Here’s a short two-word answer: Create confidence.
I’ve been thinking and writing about this quite a bit during the past few months. A recent Forrester report, Design For Confidence by Andrew Hogan and Senem Guler Biyikli, addressed this topic. The best way to describe the result of creating confidence is this. Your customers don’t want to worry about using whatever it is you sell—or even your website or app. They just want it to work the way they expect it to work and do what it is supposed to do. As the report states, “they want to be assured that it will provide them with what they need to meet their goal.”
The authors use Uber and Lyft as an example. These companies created a confidence that the traditional taxicab could not deliver—which is exactly why they disrupted their industry. I’ve actually experienced this firsthand more than once. I used to live in the suburbs and I needed to get a taxi to take me to the airport. I called the taxi company and was informed a taxi should be at my home in 15 minutes. After waiting for 20 minutes, I called the taxi company and asked where my cab was. I was told it would be at least another 15 minutes before the driver showed up. Uber eliminated this problem with an app that shows where the driver is. This information creates confidence. The customer knows how far away the driver is and can watch on the map in the app as the driver gets closer. This gives customers a sense of control—which also creates confidence. Customers, whether they know it or not, love confidence.
Maybe the best way to approach this concept is to look at it from the other side. The opposite of confidence is uncertainty. Uncertainty creates hesitation, concern and stress. Eliminate uncertainty and you start to create confidence and even trust. The report identified three opportunities to help eliminate, or at least mitigate, customer uncertainty. Here they are with some of my commentary.
1. Create User Confidence: Every company wants its customers to be successful with the product or service they sell. Help customers accomplish their goals and they will build more trust with your organization, allowing for a stronger bond that goes beyond a typical vendor relationship and starts to resemble a partnership.
2. Avoid Factors That Diminish User Confidence: The report suggests eliminating company jargon, frustrating interactions, incomplete information and more. The way around these is to look at your process. Where is there a weak link that could cause a breakdown or problem with the customer? Company jargon can frustrate customers who may not understand acronyms or words used to describe internal processes. Incomplete information could lead to a number of problems including the customer using a product the wrong way, or not understanding a support agent’s explanation and having to call back again. Find those weak links and fix them before the customer’s confidence becomes so low he or she chooses to do business with a competitor.
3. Employ Tactics That Increase User Confidence: Have strong communication with your customers. Think about what Amazon does at a digital level. When you make a purchase on the Amazon website, you immediately get an email that your order was received. Another email follows to let you know that your order was shipped and give you the tracking information. You receive yet another email once the order has been delivered—sometimes there’s even a picture of the package at your front door. All of this creates confidence. Another tactic is to be proactive by reaching out to customers about a problem before they contact you—ideally before they even know the problem exists. Listen to what customers complain about and fix the process. Find out the most frequently asked questions about your product and build answers and explanations into marketing materials, instruction manuals and your onboarding process.
There is much more to the concept of creating customer confidence than what I covered here, but this will point you in the right direction. Consider the way products are designed and how easy and intuitive they are to use. Be sure your frontline employees are trained to manage difficult conversations. Take a close look at what your customers experience as they navigate your sales and service processes. These are good places to start. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, many of our customers feel out of control because of the COVID-19 crisis. They may be short on confidence, which is why it’s more important than ever to create confidence for them when and where you can.
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