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The Five Drivers of Traffic – Trust

I posted that JC Penney was struggling because it was losing in all five of the main drivers of traffic… PriceProduct, Convenience, Trust and Delight.  Let’s look at each one of them separately.


Trust is earned. You don’t get it automatically. Trust is earned one transaction at a time.  Trust is fragile, too. Trust earned over a period of years or even decades can be blown up by one single encounter.

How do you earn Trust? Through consistency and honesty. Do what you say you are going to do time and time and time again. Yes, it is that simple. 

Fast food restaurants are built around the model of consistency. A McDonald’s Big Mac tastes the same all over the world so that you know what to expect and get what you expect every single time. Franchises and chain stores in general are designed to offer consistency. Time and time again, the same experience (at least that’s what they hope).

More importantly than discussing how to build trust, it might be better to look at how easily you can break that trust.

You can break trust in any of the following ways…

  • Play games with your pricing. Mark it up to mark it down. Hide the real price through some fine print. Change your prices all the time. Dicker and deal on price.
  • Don’t deliver. Don’t do what you say you will do. Make promises to get the sale that you know you won’t keep.
  • Lie. Be dishonest about mistakes you have made or things you have done that you don’t want customers to know about.
  • Change your policies. Making up policies that favor the company over the customer on the spot are quick trust slayers.
  • Be rude or apathetic. If you don’t treat your customers well, they won’t trust that you do anything well.
  • Load up on Fine Print. Sure, there always seems to be fine print. There always is an asterisk, an exception. Of course, the more fine print, the more exceptions, the less trustworthy you become. Just sayin’.

Here are some simple things to help you maintain trust with your customers.

  • Admit your mistakes. We all make them. Be honest and up front when you make a mistake and say, “I’m sorry. We screwed up. What can I do to make it better?”
  • Fulfill your promises. if you promise something, you better move mountains to make it happen. Period.
  • Be Professional and Kind. As my friend Tim Miles says, these are the two cornerstones of Shareworthy Customer Service. Do both and your customers will notice. Your customers will trust you. Your customers will tell others about you.

If you want to drive traffic on the basis of Trust you need to be honest and consistent. You need to do the right thing all the time, regardless of how much it hurts you. In fact, the more pain you are willing to suffer to maintain that trust, the more believable you will be.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS To grow Trust as an indie retailer you need two key elements; a trustworthy staff and credible marketing. Here are two books to help you do both better…

Read those books, do what they teach. If you don’t get far more back than you invested, I’ll buy the books from you. Yes, I trust them that much.

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