Credibility is one of the most critical factors that will
affect the success of an online business. Being credible is
simply the perception of being trustworthy and believable.
Why do people buy brand name goods and services on the Internet
and in the off-line world? A key reason is that the brand represents
a level of quality that they know and trust.
In order for people to trust your brand you need to be consistent.
People are more likely to trust a business or person who acts
in a similar manner most of the time. For example, if your
publish a newsletter to your customers or potential clients,
aim for similar quality in each issue. Publish on a regular
basis - irregular publication schedules cause confusion in
the minds of readers.
Consistency should apply to every aspect of your business.
Don't change your guarantee terms every couple of weeks. Ensure
that all your products or services consistently meet the quality
and value standards that you are promoting.
Credibility is something that is earned. Therefore, you need
to give of yourself to get trust back in return. There are
many ways to do this. Some software businesses offer free trial
periods so the customer can try before they buy. Others offer
a "shareware" version for people to try. This process
enables the potential customer to check that your product will
do the job you say that it will.
Sharing your knowledge is a useful way to build your credibility.
This can be done through monitoring discussion lists and boards
that your potential customers frequent. Answer questions that
they pose. Be a regular contributor to the list so that people
come to know and respect your knowledge.
Making outlandish claims in advertisements or on your Web
site can harm your credibility. Telling the truth is always
the best way. Ensure that your products or services provide
more value than promised. Take the time to walk in your customers'
shoes before writing your ad copy or your web site promotional
material. This will enable you to clearly state benefits that
your potential customers are looking for in a way that they
will find believable.
Testimonials can be a powerful way to generate trust in your
product or service. A testimonial is a statement from a happy
customer saying how your product or service helped them. Set
up systems to gain unsolicited testimonials whenever you can.
When you gather testimonials to publish on your site, ensure
that you have permission to publish them. Also, never make
up testimonials to boost your credibility as more often than
not you will be caught out and be discredited.
Don't just state what your qualifications are on your Web
site or in your promotional material. Instead, state how your
qualifications can benefit your potential customers. For example,
state how your expertise will provide the solution your prospect
needs in a way he or she will understand.
Following sound business practices will help your credibility
also. This includes making sure that your business address
and phone numbers are clearly shown on your Web site. Also,
ensure that you are contactable via phone and email and respond
promptly to each contact. Have you had phone messages or email
that were never responded to? How did that influence your perception
of the business?
Prompt delivery of what has been ordered also helps build
the right impression of your business. So too does quickly
responding to claims on your guarantee. Efficient business
procedures that are focused on providing customer satisfaction
will always help your business image and credibility.
Strong credibility takes a long time and much effort to build.
It can be destroyed quickly and sometimes can never be regained.
Have you noticed that once a person or a business gains a bad
reputation it can be extremely hard to change? For your business
to achieve it's full potential, it is important that you set
standards and live by them so that you are constantly building
Remember that each thing you do in your business will affect
the image of your business. Being focused on providing solutions
to your customers, providing consistent quality and value for
money, and being accessible will all help you achieve the credibility
your business needs to succeed.