E-arning TRUST

Thursday, December 18, 2008
The most significant distinction between shopping online and the traditional shopping experience is that the customers are actually seeing how the process of buying is done from the point they choose the product to the payment period wherein the assurance that there is a less or no fraud is guaranteed. And this is why trust is a very critical factor in online transactions since not every procedure is transparent to the customer. Real human interaction demonstrates real trust with customers compared to that virtual interaction. This is since a shopper can personally see the product, inspect its features, and he can even try it before he decides to buy it, while in online, the customer depends on the information being displayed with the product or testimonials from past buyers of that product which we sometimes doubt if they were real, and we may think that they are just make-up stories. The most critical part of online shopping too is disclosing our personal information like our real full name and full address which is needed in shipping of our orders which unlike to traditional shopping wherein these details are not likely needed since you bring with you already the product after you pay for it. With all of these, trust is indeed, an important aspect in building a great relationship between merchants and customers.

Trust when illustrated in normal situations like that trust found in friendships, is developed in many ways. Definitely, trust is earned through great foundations of relationship. One cannot disclose the significant information about himself if the receiver of that is not trusted enough. Other way in which trust is built is actually can be made through instant connections. Connections that involve great assurance with people and he was easily persuaded to trust it easily. This is the most common event happening online, instant trust. How? An example is a person who trusts immediately a site on the first time he visited it. This was maybe because the site’s content has included good information of their company that ensures the customers’ privacy when it comes to their personal information. Or maybe their site has been mostly endorsed by other people who have already tried their services. This is another factor to be considered to build a good e-commerce, earn great reputation from your customers and you will earn trust from them and to the future customers in return. And so, a better informational presentation of their company and the products they sell is important to win the trust of their customers. Also, it matters with how they endorse themselves and who are the ones endorsing them. Good and respectable endorsers could essentially help them to earn wide and more trusting customers. Trust, is too some extent, based from the customers’ ruling and judgmental decisions upon examining your business. Thus, in the sellers’ side, they must invest more on how information to be reliable enough for the customers be convinced.

Since trust is a very important factor in a successful e-business, and so there must be some various ways to gain such trust. Several authors of different books or the company owners themselves have studied and researched for effective methods on how to persuade their customers to trust them. And as I was personally researching in different search engines about how to build trust between customers and sellers, there are lots of ways I have found. These methods could be applied by any sellers in e-commerce that will essentially help them earn that trust factor from their customers. The following methods are illustrated by epages.com, authored by Anja Römisch entitled Trust in E-Commerce: Customer Service.

1. Show a face

Well, in fact, having been able to see the one you are talking with in real situations, you can assure yourself that whenever fraud is going to happen, you remember his or her face well anyway. So, in doing a business, it is important for the customers that they are negotiating with real ones. They would be convinced about how reliable and trustworthy your company is if they know that the company has nothing to hide. Showing their faces on “About Us” page or a short video film about the owners, the employees and if possible, the actual processes in the company will very much helpful to gain trust from the users. Well, at least fairness in the part of the customers is realized, they disclose their information and in return, they know what the merchants and the persons behind the company look like. In any case, a face is needed to complete and satisfy the customers’ thoughts whenever he thinks of the company and the product especially that he cannot see them in person.

2. Short Response Times

Customers are used to traditional shopping wherein if they have inquiries with the products they are answered right away by the sellers since they are in the same events. So, with this, the same situation should be present online, if the customers have inquiries, suggestions, reactions or something they want to discuss with the online sellers or company owners, they must respond immediately. Long responses will definitely bore the customers and probably, lose them instantly. The online business entrepreneurs must take note that customers hate to wait especially that the very reason why they do certain things online is to hasten the traditional activities they are engaged before. Online activities are likely expected quicker than the traditional ones. Everyone in the digital world seems to be in hurry that they only want few clicks and page navigations and everything is already acquired. So merely, short response times in answering the customers’ concerns will essentially guarantee the said company’s good rewards from the customers whether they will enjoy buying your products or better, they will absolutely admire and patronize the services being offered. This will certainly help build good relationships with the customers.

3. Personal Support

The objectified way of helping the customers with their concerns could not help build good interaction with them. Answers are ready-made or synched that these answers seem answered by computers rather than real persons. The company should ensure more personalized way to support and answer the customers’ concerns. They should let the customers feel that sense of reality that the customer service persons they are talking with are real persons they are encountering in the real world. It means that to reach the customer’s mind and heart, they have to be more real persons negotiating with their concerns. Maybe a more friendly approach will aid these customer service representatives. The company should make sure that the default answers recorded in the machines will not answer the concerns but rather, they should assign real persons to each customer having concerns. Importantly, these persons who will take care of these customer’s concerns should be really serious and accurate with their answers to obtain full customer’s satisfactory feeling after their personal matters being answered.

4. Fast Delivery and Accommodating Return Policies

One way to succeed in e-commerce is that sellers should maintain their customers. In other words, they should keep up their customers so that they will shop again and again with the company. Or to some extent, they will make you build a wide audience when they endorse the site with his family, friends and relatives. So one way to attain these is to merely have a fast delivery after the purchase on the site is done. Customers again, hate waiting. A long time for them to receive the product will definitely annoy them and worst, will regret shopping in the said site. Fast delivery should be ensured and also, the company should inform at the time they purchase them how long it would take them to receive the product so that they will have the chance to know earlier how long they would wait for the products to arrive so that they will not be disappointed. Another too, the company should make sure that they have prepared return policies so that customer by the time they receive their purchased products, they have a chance to return it if it was not the product they had expected before it has arrived. This is so important since as I have mentioned earlier, by the time they were still in the process of inspecting the product, they cannot personally try or see them, thus, they are mostly dependent to the information displayed with the product or if available, some testimonials made by past customers which are not mostly reliable. So with this, the customers should have the rights to return the product whenever they receive it and they do not like it. Or if the company does not have any policies regarding it, the company should let them know ahead of time that they cannot assure money-back guarantee or they do not accept returning of products.

5. Keeping Customers Informed.

Letting the customers informed with the company’s new products is a very good initiative to persuade them to shop in your site. Informing them through the site about the products is not enough. The company owners should keep them updated through e-mails so that they will be sent product information updates and they can avail and purchase any of it. This is so helpful when the company is promoting promos, discounts and sale with their products. This is a very effective way to attract them to shop and shop again with the said site. However, the company should also let the customers decide if they want to receive updates or not because they could somehow be annoyed with these information updates. They should freely decide for their own and let them choose if they want to shop, visit the site or not. At the end, the customers’ freedom is still the most important thing in respecting the customers’ choice. You can anyway display information on the site not only through emails.

Those are just some of the effective ways in building trust between a customer and a seller. It is very obvious that the customer’s choice and convenience are two important factors to consider in building trust and great relationship between customer and seller. And also, a company should establish a set of rules and policies so that the customer should feel security every time they are having an electronic transaction on online shopping. In addition, full customer service support is very helpful too to ensure that customer’s concerns are answered immediately and accurately. Letting the customer to be informed always is necessary too to attract more customers.

On the other hand, I have also realized that transparency too should be considered as an important factor in building trust with the customers. Indeed, when all transactions and processes are allowed to be perceived and understood by the customers, they can assure themselves that they are having real and reliable transactions with the sellers. However, the company should also make necessary security measures to avoid dishonest customers. In e-commerce, these customers do not have to be always right or the common term “Customers are always right” principle should not be applied at all times since there are also wise and cyber criminal customers that cheat into the system. The security measures should be enforced strictly to avoid fraud throughout the whole process. There are certain things that should be included in the security measures like ensuring that the customers’ personal information are genuine and valid. Identity thefts and false identities are emergent in the internet nowadays, the same as, illegal merchants and e-businesses are also surfacing. Protection is certainly, a very important issue to be dealt with by each seller and buyer in e-commerce.

Finally, trust should not just always be acquired from the customers only but also the customers should also gain trust from the sellers. There are frauds from both of them, there are illegal sellers and businesses online, as well as, there are dishonest customers. Therefore, earning trust is a two-way developing process: buyer should be truthful with their information disclosed (but with cautions) so that the seller could trust their credibility, on top, the sellers should make sure that they had set up secured policies, good and quality products, and consistency of customer services enough to receive trustworthiness from their consumers.

References:
http://www.epages.com/en/blog/index.php/2008/05/27/trust-in-e-commerce-customer-servic/
http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article.php/3408571
http://www.ecommerce-blog.org/archives/some-simple-ways-to-build-trust/
http://www.philosophe.com/commerce/trust.html
http://www.fipr.org/trust.html
http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/informationSystems/iSChannel/iSChannel2006/Sehgal_2006.pdf
http://www.casos.cs.cmu.edu/events/conferences/2005/2005_proceedings/Tang.pdf

4 comments:

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  • charmj

    earning customer's trust should be the be one of the top priorities in an e-business

  • mae

    Yah, trust should be involved in both parties so that they will have a good buyer-seller relationship.

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