handshake markers of trust

Any legitimate business owner understands the importance of credibility, but proving it to skeptical consumers can be challenging, especially in today’s internet-driven market. In the following article, we outline some actionable measures for creating “markers of trust” and increasing consumer confidence in your business.

Any technological milestone can change the world, but rarely does such change unfold in a straightforward fashion. In most cases, the change is complex and dichotomous, producing both positive and negative effects. In this respect, the internet follows convention. On one hand, it has made information more easily accessible than ever before; on the other, it affords a greater possibility for the muddling of information, from mere misinterpretation to deliberate deception. Simply put, the internet has simultaneously made information more available and less reliable.

As a subset, the online consumer market is no exception to this dichotomous state of affairs. While it has provided consumers with a more efficient means of finding and comparing businesses, it has also afforded more avenues for illegitimate businesses to entice and deceive consumers. Given these circumstances, it’s no surprise that a) the vast majority of consumers use the internet to find businesses and b) a great deal of these consumers tend to be wary and skeptical when doing so.

Unfortunately for legitimate businesses, this climate of heightened skepticism presents an increased challenge of proving one’s credibility and winning consumer confidence. More than ever, consumers are demanding markers of trust—verifiable signifiers of quality and reliability. That’s why, in the era of fake reviews and fly-by-night purveyors, quality companies need to exhibit their markers of trust upfront.

But what are these markers of trust? And how should they be displayed? To get answers to these questions, read the following tips for proving your business’ credibility:


Display your credentials.

One of the most compelling markers of trust a company can exhibit is verifiable credentials. These include:
• Licensing and insurance
• Industry certifications (ASE Blue Seal of Excellence, CertainTeed Master Shingle Applicator)
• Affiliations with local industry and community organizations (American Dental Association, San Rafael Chamber of Commerce)
• Accreditations from industry organizations (Better Business Bureau)
• Awards (regional or industry-wide)

Rather than making your potential customers do the legwork to research your credentials, inspire confidence at the outset by displaying them front and center on your website.

Naturally, the next question is where to display these credentials. If your business requires a license, consider placing your license number directly beneath your business name, as is often done for easy consumer reference. Most other credentials can be displayed as logos in a conspicuous section of your homepage. Better yet, make those logos links—if possible, to a page that features a specific listing for your company. After all, any business can display logos on their website, regardless of whether they were actually earned. Linking back to the associated organizations makes it easy for consumers to verify the legitimacy of the logos you’ve displayed.

Of course, if you don’t have many credentials, you won’t have many to display. That’s why you should also…


Get more credentials.

If you don’t have many of the aforementioned credentials, it’s likely because you haven’t put much effort into obtaining them. If that’s the case, it’s time you did. As we stated earlier, industry certifications and affiliations represent significant markers of trust, so if you want to inspire confidence in potential customers, you’ll need to invest the time and money needed to acquire them.


Get verifiable customer reviews.

Never before have customer reviews been as important as they are today. That’s because on the internet, a company’s reviews are displayed with equal prominence as their address and phone number. It’s no wonder why: Reviews are a prime benchmark that consumers reference when choosing companies. That’s why, if your business only has one or two reviews, you’ll need to find a way to get more.

The problem with the predominance of reviews today is they can be falsified. Any company can potentially doctor their star rating by paying others to post false reviews (or simply doing it themselves). Additionally, many review sites rely on cherry-picked data rather than random samples of customer data. For this reason, if you want to convince the more skeptical consumers out there, you don’t just need reviews—you need verifiable ones.

Where can you get these? Your best bet is to utilize a trustworthy third-party consumer resource. Most consumer resources feature reviews, and the best will actually collect reviews for affiliated businesses by surveying their customers at random. Not only will this take the work of acquiring reviews off your plate, you’ll have reviews whose credibility holds water when questioned by skeptical consumers.

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