3 reasons why product managers should focus on customer trust

Trust is one of those things that is expensive to build, difficult to quantify, and impossible to attribute. Clearly, you have some, or you would never make a sale. So why should you make it a priority?

In business, trust is about setting and meeting expectations. As a customer, am I going to get what I expect? It’s the judgment each person makes about the risk of the outcome not meeting their expectations. Just as in physical retail, there are numerous attributes each person uses gauging trust in e-commerce.

Imagine your product is a house and a satisfied customer as a guest that enjoyed their visit. At some point during their journey, they had to trust you enough to step through your door. Your guest had the expectation that they would not step through the door only to fall into a pit of snakes, and they had to believe that you would meet it.

If you follow this metaphor, you can see that more went into your guest’s decision to trust you than just the exterior of your home. The A/B tested landing pages, the pixel-perfect mock-ups on your product pages, and even the SSL certificate all make your home look great from the outside. As product managers, this is what we are trained to do, but it is only a piece of the customer trust puzzle. This post focuses on whyyou should make customer trust a priority, as howto build customer trust is a much bigger topic. Here is why you should focus on all the pieces of the customer trust puzzle:

Conversion

We’ve been conditioned to believe that all factors related to the conversion of the visitor to a customer can be found somewhere on our site, app, or conversion funnel. This is simply not true. The signals that drive user trust come from many places, including the physical world. If there is a strong validation of trust in the outside world, an individual is more likely to trust your business enough to make a purchase.

If customers trust that your product will meet their expectations, they are more likely to pull the trigger and make a purchase (regardless of the color of your buy button). These expectations aren’t just that your product will do what it says, but also that their data is secure and won’t be misused.

If you have thoroughly earned customer trust, they will overcome usual doubts and small obstacles leading to a broad improvement in conversion of visitors to customers.

Margin

Similar to improved conversion, when you have earned a customer’s trust they are likely to be less price sensitive. While this can be instances where they are aware of a competitor’s lower price and comparable benefits, it can also take other forms.

When you have thoroughly earned customer trust, they may also choose to come to you first without visiting a search engine. In those cases, your price needs to remain reasonable (as to not abuse the customer’s trust), but can be higher than the competition. In other instances, a customer may choose your product at a higher price because they have a greater trust in you than the competition.

Authenticity

Finally, the greatest reason to focus on customer trust is authenticity. On the internet, almost anything can be copied by your competitors: product, price, and even backlinks. One thing that cannot be cheaply copied is customer trust.

It takes a history of acting in the customer’s interest in order to build customer trust. Any short-term-focused competitor cannot compete on that. Over time, while you’ve been focused on building trust with customers, you’ve also gained an understanding of their needs and priorities which allow you to be even more on point to their needs.

Trust itself is challenging to measure and it takes time to build, but the results can be exponentially more — and not just for the reasons above. Embedding a focus on customer trust in your product management processes prevents you from building a product that customers won’t value.

How are you building trust into your products?