People will do business with those whom they trust. Public Relations is an effective tool to help you build that trust with your customers.
There are several ways a PR can help you to begin to build trust with your customers and with future (potential) customers. Among the most important of them are Consistency, Courtesy, Care, and Community Involvement.
Consistency is a critically important factor in a business' future success. There's a reason why fast food restaurants, pet stores, hotels, and hardware chains, among others, are so popular. Ideally, they offer consistent service and products in multiple locations. Customers know they can get the same products and services offered for about the same price, wherever they go. For some, that may seem "boring," but customers actually yearn for boring over the alternative: inconsistent service and the inability to get their favorite products.
Public Relations professionals can guide a business to craft and disseminate standard internal policies, graphics and messaging that will help create a consistent experience for customers.
Courtesy is also an important factor in building Trust. If service is offered in a cold manner, or worse, in a rude manner, the bond of Trust between a customer and a business is broken. This is even the case in a long-term business relationship. There's no such thing anymore as a small incident of discourteous conduct. Even one incident in which a customer is treated poorly can ruin a company's reputation in this era of instant online reviews and cell phone videos.
A Public Relations professional can help isolate and identify areas in which internal standards aren't being met, and can, once those are addressed, help repair and rebuild Trust with customers who experienced a lack of courtesy during a business transaction.
Care is shown in a multitude of ways by a business, and customers recognize when it's not there, contributing to a lack of Trust. Products or services offered in a sloppy, slapdash way can instantly signal to the customer that the business doesn't really care about them. Caring isn't a small thing, it's a major thing, and in fact, should be a top concern of any business. If you're not in business to care for the customer, why are you in business?
Care can be bolstered by proper training and internal messaging that makes it clear that business owners have high expectations of their employees. (Caring generates caring.) PR can deliver those internal messages in a compelling and clear way that leaves no doubt that Care is required from everyone.
Finally, Community Involvement can be a tremendous trust-building tool. While some effort should be made not to alienate a customer base with involvement in overtly political or controversial causes, showing concern for one's community is more than a gimmick to grab headlines.
Instead, it shows that a business is intimately tied to the community in which they do business, and that they care about their customers' well-being, not just as a source of cash. Public Relations professionals can help identify community activities that reflect well on a business and help this involvement lead to stronger feelings of trust with their current and future customers.
For more information about building Trust, visit Abbott Media Group at www.abbottmediagroup.com.