Take a moment to think about how the commercial world has changed in the last 20 years. More specifically, think about how many times a day or week you visit websites, either for information or to purchase goods or services. Two decades ago it would have been something unusual; nowadays, it’s something hundreds of thousands of people do every day as a matter of course.
Just about every business has a website – and your business will have one, too. But, and this is the big question, does your website promote its trustworthiness and reliability? It seems like every week we read about hacking, about online scams and more worrying occurrences relating to online business, so what can you do to make your website one that people trust?
Here are some important things you can do to keep your customers confident and let them know they are safe.
Tell Customers What You Have Done
Before we go on to tell you about some essential things that will make your website safe, secure and trustworthy, remember this: you need to tell your customers what you have done to make it so. They won’t know if you don’t make it clear – they are unlikely to read the small-print after all – so be clear and prominent in explaining and assuring them that you have carried out every action you can. After all, you need them to be confident enough to share personal details when it comes to payments and deliveries, so promoting your trustworthiness is vital.
The Essential SSL Certificate
Any transaction made via your website will necessarily involve personal data – bank details, name and address, phone numbers and email addresses – to be electronically transmitted and to pass through perhaps more than one server. This is one of the methods in which personal data is stolen, the other being hacking.
An SSL certificate reassures the user that your website has been certified as safe and secure, and that all such data will be sufficiently encrypted to protect against theft and hacking. It is enough to say that if you accept payments online, you need an SSL certificate, and your chosen payment portal will very likely insist upon one.
Users can see if a site is certified by the presence of the familiar padlock icon in the address bar. If this is present, the site has been certified as secure by the major browser-operating companies, including Google and Microsoft. A website without a certificate will have the words ‘not secure’ in the address bar, which is not inviting to users.
Use a Known Payment Service Provider
Every website that needs to take payments will use the services of a payment service provider, otherwise known as a payment gateway. This is a service provided by a reputable third party that checks the information given, and acts as the transaction processor between the banks involved.
As we are talking about making your customer feel they can trust your website, it is best to use a ‘name’ payment gateway: think of the likes of PayPal, Apple Pay, Visa Checkout and such, each of which are large and trustworthy outfits with proven reputations.
Also, you may want to consider that some customers will have their preferred payment gateway, which if not offered may lose you a customer. It makes sense to offer them the choice of more than one, so they can feel safe in using the one they usually use.
Is Your Site Malware-Free?
Here’s a major and essential tip: make regular checks that your site is not infected with a virus or malware. Use a proven tool such as Site Scanner every now and then to check. It may be that it has become infected – there are many ways that this can happen – and you are unaware.
Your customers will be, as they will be given a signal by their own anti-virus software as to the status of sites they visit. Customers who visit an infected site are likely to take their custom elsewhere, even if the problem is rectified, as it does not inspire their trust. Malware on your site may also be transferred to the customer’s machine, which will definitely send them shopping elsewhere.
It is absolutely essential you follow this advice, as malware of some forms can also gain access to the information stored on your databases and enable theft of sensitive information.
The Age of Social Proof
It is no secret that potential customers will read reviews of your site and your performance in advance of using your services or buying your products. This is the online version of word-of-mouth, in which one person passes on a recommendation of a service they have used.
There are review sites where customers can go to leave their comments – Trust Pilot is a very popular one – either positive or negative, and it has been shown that positive reviews engender trustworthiness in new customers.
When you start to get good reviews and testimonials, use them; put them in a prominent place on your website where users are able to see them, and they will then feel more comfortable about using your service.
Building a trustworthy website, one that customers will feel safe using and will return to for repeat business, is about putting the above in place – ensuring you have the SSL certificate to begin with, checking regularly for malware, offering known and secure payment options with reputable providers and giving feedback from satisfied customers.
It also about letting the user know that you have done all of this so that they are getting the best service possible, and are at the least risk from potential security breaches.
It’s a fact that no site is 100% secure, but by following the above actions you can let your customers know that you have done everything possible to make yours as secure as it can be, and that they can shop with you without any concerns.