Late night infomercials have done more to harm the trust relationship between retailers and customers than almost anything else out there.
You've seen the shows where the person claims to be the expert on something, but you have a hard time believing them because they are also trying to sell you something. You doubt the veracity of their claims. You question their motive. No matter how much of an expert they prove to be, you just don't trust them.
Yet, one of the Currencies that buy Credibility is the Time & Energy you invest in educating your customer base and showing off your expertise.
So how do you invest your Time & Energy in a way that builds trust instead of breaking it down?
BEFORE THE SALE - DROP THE SALES PITCH
The key to educating your customer base in a way that builds trust is to remove any sales pitch from the process. The sales pitch is what undermines trust, so drop it.
In Tom Wanek's book, he mentions the REI website that is chock full of educational articles. Those articles are extremely useful and helpful to anyone thinking about camping and outdoor recreation. More importantly, they don't try to sell you on one brand or another. They give you suggestions about the types of products you need, but stop short of pushing any particular product.
They have shown the customer that they are willing to invest their time and energy to make sure you know everything you need to know - even if they don't get the sale! That's the sacrifice they will make to build trust.
We do similar types of classes here - purely informational. Whether it is about toys or baby products, I take the approach of teaching the customers everything they need to know to make smarter choices without telling them what to choose. Yes, they can take that information and go shop elsewhere with confidence. At the same time, because I am building trust, I am winning them over to shop with me. I am training them to look at toys or baby products the same way I look at those items.
I know my customers are going to go to other stores. I know my customers are going to go online. I also know that at the end of the day they are going to buy from the store they trust the most. By dropping the sales pitch, I win the sale.
AFTER THE SALE - SERVICE THE CUSTOMER
Apple has a different approach. They invest their Time & Energy after the sale. They call it the Genius Bar. The Genius Bar tells customers...
"We understand our products have a learning curve. We so strongly believe you will enjoy our products that we will invest the Time and Energy to make sure you know how to use them properly."
The power of Apple's approach is that their willingness to help you out after the fact gives you trust and confidence in the purchase, and they reinforce the purchase decision by making sure you use the product to the best of its abilities, which creates loyalty.
You are an expert on your products and your industry. You can build trust by investing the Time & Energy to share that expertise with your customer base. Just drop the sales pitch. We trust the non-sellers more.
PS The Internet has changed one thing about information - the expectation that information should be free. The gatekeepers of information are gone, replaced by a flood of information greater than anything Noah ever faced. With so much information out there, the information that is most trusted is the information that isn't trying to sell you anything. Make sure your company is the source of that information and you'll garner enough trust to not have to make a sales pitch at all.