Trust is the single most important currency a business can have with its customer base. Without trust, there is nothing. In the business world, users are faced with myriad outlandish claims. True to form, almost every e-commerce platform will claim that its products are the best in the business, that their quality is unparalleled, and their service is beyond reproach. How can you as John Doe, or Jane Doe believe anything that you see online? Fortunately, there are world-class Trust Indicators currently being used by e-commerce sites to ensure safe browsing. Before we get to them, let’s discuss why people don’t trust websites, to begin with…
The Problem with Website Credibility
Ever heard the term, Window Dressing? It refers to a facade; pretending to be something other than what it is. Websites can easily masquerade as authentic, credible, reputable, honest, responsive, and any number of other world-class superlatives. Truth is, most of them fall short in many departments. There are proven ways to bolster the trust that users have in websites, provided that trust indicators are in place.
Credible Base of Operations
Every business, including an online business, ultimately has a base of operations. That means there is a physical address where customers can contact the company. E-commerce platforms may well operate in the unfathomable depths of cyberspace, but they are accountable to their customers, the IRS, and the greater global community. As such, there should always be identifying information about the business’s location. This includes a physical address, telephone number, and email address, at the very least. Proof of authenticity is easily achieved by penning a location on Google Maps, MapQuest, or other sites.
Strong Social Media Presence
Be wary of e-commerce platforms operating today without a strong social media presence. Much of the communication we engage in online is done via social media. These platforms include Twitter (microblogging and soundbites), Facebook for news, reviews, updates, and marketing promotions, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and blogs. The stronger the social media presence, the better. This shows that the company is actively engaged with its customers, and the broader community. That’s who you want to do business with. Check for the responsiveness, professionalism, and expertise of all customer service requests.
MyWOT is an acronym for My Web of Trust. This free-to-download security application has proven itself time and again. It is trusted by a global community of users who pool their collective resources to provide assessments of websites. A website that has been identified as problematic, untrustworthy, spammy, or outright malware will be identified as such. This provides a blanket of protection to users, who can avoid malicious content. A site that is deemed a threat is highlighted in red, and strong words of warning are presented to the user.
If a site is safe and secure, it gets the green stamp of approval, and it can be trusted accordingly. MyWOT automatically scans Wi-Fi networks and alerts users to any threats that may be lurking. It also locks apps and URLs that may store private/sensitive information on your device. This powerful tool is free to download and install on Android and iOS devices, and offers comprehensive protection on PC, Mac, and mobile.
Companies that try to confuse customers with highfalutin legalese perform a disservice to themselves and their client base. While policies are often laden with complicated language, there is no reason why users cannot enjoy easy-to-understand, anti-money-laundering policies, privacy policies, and know your customer policies. The objective in all cases is to establish a sense of trust and security online with the customer. These policies also expand upon how the integrity of your personal information is protected, including how it is shared, and what information is needed to validate your identity. The extent to which these efforts are made will determine the quality of these trust indicators.
Reviews and Testimonials
A testimonial details what is supposed to be a real story, including photographs of how a company performs in the customer’s eyes. Glowing commendations are good for business, and critical reviews are bad for business. These reviews and testimonials may be posted on site, in which case they lack credibility. Objective reviews and testimonials on third-party platforms may be more trustworthy, depending on the relationship between the review platform and the e-commerce platform that you’re visiting.
Secure Socket Layers (SSL) safety standards ensure that the website you’re browsing is safe against hackers. HTTPS is similar to HTTP, with one important distinction – the ‘S’ at the end. That stands for secure protocol. This should be a lock icon on your browser, indicating that this is a safe site to shop at or browse around. People want to trust sites they shop at, and SSL certificates, HTTPS protocol and other third-party logos can really make a difference.