Personal vulnerability experienced in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic relating to health concerns, financial stability and privacy now means consumer trust is at an all time low.
Brands in 2021, therefore must now work harder than ever before to engage new customers and demonstrate their legitimacy as well as giving customers a good enough commercial reason to choose them over a competitor.
Here, Jon Higham, managing director of UK-registered online pharmacy Medicine Direct, explains what strategies brands can use to enhance consumer trust online – particularly if you’re a less established brand in a competitive niche.
The impact of consumer trust during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic
For us, building trust in the online pharmaceutical business is essential to ensure customers return. This is still a relatively new industry, with many people still having concerns about ordering medicine online, so creating trust is the vital first step to them placing an order.
We have made it a priority to appeal to individuals who would not normally order medication online, but who have had no option but to order online during the pandemic. Many of these customers would have been hesitant to order with us at all but for the fact they had no choice, so making them feel comfortable was incredibly important.
Humanise your brand and highlight credentials
One of the ways we did this was to add a personal touch to each product page. We do this by adding a photograph and professional profile of each pharmacist/prescriber, detailing their experience and qualifications to provide the consumer with reassurance that each and every one of our medical team is a certified health professional.
If you have any credentials or quality check marks to showcase your legitimacy, make sure these are clear. For example, we go to great lengths to inform our customers that we are registered with all the necessary health authorities, including the MHRA, the General Medical Council (GMC) and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC); this information is featured on our product pages, homepage and About Us page to build trust.
Showcase your reviews and be available for questions
Reviewing platforms is also vital to creating trust with consumers. You should welcome feedback from your customers and use it to review your experience and refine processes where necessary. Making the online experience as seamless as possible is extremely important, particularly for those customers who would not normally choose to shop online. The quicker and simpler the order process is, the better.
Adding faces to names on your product pages is important, but it doesn’t count for much if there are no human beings available to speak to customers, if required. Larger companies will normally have a dedicated customer service department to deal with inquiries. Smaller brands can ensure that someone is always at the other end of the phone during business hours; there should also be someone monitoring social media and emails for incoming queries. Always be available for your customers; proving to them that you will always be there to help them will encourage them to return to you.
If you have social channels – use them!
Furthermore, being active on social media is also a useful way of showing your customers that you are an active business that is looking to engage with those who order with you. Share updates about what the business is doing, what you have planned, any upcoming news etc.
Also, invite them to join a conversation with you; ask them their opinion of something, reply to their messages and comments and try to recognise returning customers who have engaged with you before. Sharing news articles relevant to your industry is a great way to start a discussion and also show your followers that you value their opinion.
Ask for feedback and facilitate communication
Inviting customer feedback is also important. This lets you refine your service in accordance to your customers’ needs and suggestions, allowing you to provide a streamlined service that those who order from you find the most beneficial.
The fact you are showing your customers that you welcome their opinions will also help to build trust because it shows that you are listening to them and have your customer base at the heart of everything you do. If the customer has never ordered online from you before, asking for their feedback is a brilliant method of building trust with them and discovering more about how you can make other first-time customers feel more comfortable shopping with you.
Finally, you must let the customer communicate directly with the experts where possible as opposed to going through a third part or ‘messenger’, which for us is a doctor or pharmacist.