How to Create Fans

No matter what format, source or combination you favor, you can’t get through a day of news without confronting allegations of lies or fraud.

According to Gallup 2016 business and industry sector ratings, the industries perceived as most positive were restaurant, computer and grocery; those perceived as least positive were the federal government, pharmaceutical and health care industries.

The Edelman Trust Barometer 2016 produced similar, but not exact, findings, with technology holding down the top spot; the food and beverage industry ranked second. Financial services and pharmaceuticals were the least trusted industries according to the Edelman research.

The recently released 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer shows a global decline in trust. The findings indicate government, media, business and non-governmental organizations all lack trust.

And trust in the media plummeted. “Peers” gained credibility, while institutions lost it. As a whole, businesses are faring better than government or the media. But the public — and BBB — holds business to a higher standard. Missteps can be fatal.

According to the report, the three most important things a business can do to build trust is treating employees well, offering high quality products and services, and listening to customers. The report concludes that to restore faith and trust, institutions must put people at the core of their strategies.

The Council of Better Business Bureaus enlisted an ethnographer, Craig Honick, to survey more than 1,000 residents from several cities across the U.S. for a project published in BBB Trusted in June 2016.

In the resulting article, “Do Customers Trust Your Business,” Honick wrote, “As a business owner, your goal is to build a base of customers that want to do repeat business with you, and is motivated to share their positive experiences with your company with everyone. To consumers, most of the time, your business is more than a place to get products or services. Rather, it is viewed as a human exchange.”

Honick’s conclusion was very basic. “The most important thing companies can do to win customers, therefore, may be to enhance the humanness of the experience.” He determined the most important qualities of a “human exchange” were that they be equitable, humble, proactive, transparent and honest.

Give customers a reason to love your business. Whether yours is an industry which specifically lacks trust or not, consider what can be done to improve your human exchange. By doing so, you’ll build trust, create fans and earn loyalty.

Angie Barnett is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. She can be reached at 410-347-3990 and abarnett@greatermd.bbb.org