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  • Writer's pictureYoram Solomon, PhD

The Importance of Post-Purchase TRUST

Updated: Jul 16

People buy from people they trust and are even willing to pay a premium when they buy from someone they trust. That sounds pretty obvious, but it focuses on the trust that a salesperson or professional must build before the customer makes the purchase decision. In this article, I will focus on the importance of maintaining trust after the purchase decision has been made.


Before the purchase decision

With the continuous increase in spam and scams, customers are much more skeptical of a salesperson or professional approaching them in a “cold call,” whether through email, phone call, in-person, or any other method. In 2022 alone, 56.5% of all emails were spam, of which 73% were attempted identity theft. According to a 2023 Gallup survey, Americans are more afraid of being victims of identity theft or being tricked by a scammer into sending money or providing access to their financial accounts than they are being being mugged, murdered, or sexually assaulted. Under this environment, cold calls are doomed. The customer will purchase only when they already trust the salesperson or professional.


How do you create this trust? With the amount of information available online, the customer has probably already researched you online. But another critical source of trust for them is transferrable trust: the trust that is transferred to them through someone they already know and trust who recommended you based on their own experience, through a large number of positive online reviews by people they don’t really know, or through checking references of prior customers that you gave them (Trust Law #5). In one of my surveys, I found that customers are between likely and highly likely to hire a financial advisor, for example, if they received this kind of transferrable trust.


Once they trust you, there is a much higher likelihood that they will choose you over someone they don’t know (Trust Preference), and they will be willing to pay a premium when buying from you or hiring your services (Trust Premium). In my surveys, I found preference between 93.5% and 98.2% and the premium between 5.5% and 39.4%. Those heavily depend on industry and other contexts. After all, trust is contextual (Trust Law #2).


The purchase decision

As a result of transferrable trust and research, the customer establishes the initial level of trust in you based on the “who you are” components of the relative trust model (competence, personality compatibility, and symmetry). Armed with those, the customer interacts with you. During the interaction, you continue to establish your trustworthiness through the “what you do” components of the model (positivity, time, and intimacy). At the end of the interaction, the customer decides how much to trust you based on all those.


As the Trust Premium concept suggests, if the customer is willing to pay a premium for your trustworthiness, they value it.


Finally, the customer must decide whether to purchase from you or engage with your services. That decision is based on a very simple formula: the Perceived Value they believe they will be getting is higher (or at least equivalent) to the Perceived Price they believe they will be paying at the time of the purchase decision.


Beware of one thing, though. In another survey, I found that people firmly believe that “you get what you paid for” (67%), that “if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t true” (73%), and that “there is no such thing as a free lunch” (64%). Therefore, the customers may be skeptical if the value is significantly higher than the price.


Post-purchase trust

What happens after the purchase? The customer finds two new realities: the Actual Price and the Actual Value. The actual price is what they end up paying. When you sign up for a new Internet service sold to you for $40/month, just to find out that this is the introductory price for only the first two months, the actual price is higher than the perceived price you based your purchase decision on. Sometimes, you find that you are actually paying less than you thought you would, although, with the marketing and sales “tricks” used today, this would be the exception and not the rule. The actual value could be higher or lower than what you perceived when you made the purchase decision. You hire a financial advisor who promises you a return rate of 20% and then delivers 7%. Of course, they will blame the market, the economy, the government, and everyone else while not taking responsibility for leading you to believe that your annual return would be 20%, based on which you decided to hire them. Often, the differences between the actual value and the perceived value could be chalked to the customer service you get versus the customer service you expected to get.


Finally, let’s not forget that trust (and your trustworthiness) is part of the value the customer sees in working with you. Over time, did you give them reasons to trust you more, the same, or less than when they decided to work with you? The relationship between the non-trust actual vs. perceived value and between the actual vs. perceived price would have a significant effect on your trustworthiness. When the actual value is not less than the perceived value and/or when the actual price is not higher than the perceived price, the customer will trust you. The bigger those differences are, the more they will trust you. But if the actual value is less than the perceived value and/or the actual price is higher than the perceived price, the customer will trust you less.


If you are in a business that relies on repeat purchases, repeat business or ongoing relationships, it is clear why maintaining your trustworthiness (and the customer’s trust) after the purchase decision is essential. If your trustworthiness decreases, you make it easy for the customer to accept offers from another salesperson or professional and switch.


However, it is also important to maintain your post-purchase trustworthiness if there is no reason to expect the customer to return or stay with you due to the nature of your business. When I conducted my survey of financial advisors, for example, I asked, “If you decided to hire financial advisor A [I described them as trustworthy], and they kept every promise they made to you [which means you consider them trustworthy], how likely are you to recommend them to people who trust you, post a positive review online, or be willing to be a reference for them?” The answers were overwhelming: the customers were very likely to do those things 63%, 46%, and 58% of the time, respectively. They were likely or better to do those 84%, 77%, and 87% of the time, and they were somewhat likely or better to do those things 98%, 94%, and 98% of the time, respectively.


When you remember that your customers trusted you initially because of this kind of transferrable trust, you will understand why it's crucial to maintain that trust so that they will transfer their trust to you to the next customer because the next customer will hire you or buy from you initially because of that trust.

 
 
Dr. Yoram Solomon

Dr. Yoram Solomon is an expert in trust, employee engagement, teamwork, organizational culture, and leadership. He is the author of The Book of Trust, host of The Trust Show podcast, a three-time TEDx speaker, and facilitator of the Trust Habits workshop and masterclass that explains what trust is and how to build trust in organizations. He is a frequent speaker at SHRM events and a contributor to HR.com magazine.

 

The Book of Trust®, The Innovation Culture Institute®, and Trust Habits® are registered

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