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2020 Mobile App Engagement Benchmark Report

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Mobile Marketing

How to win a customer’s trust

Robi Ganguly  //  August 13, 2011  //  3 min read

Trust your customer, just because

I want to tell you a simple story about customer service and trust, inspired by a local coffee shop called Canal Street Coffee, run by a wonderful man named John.

An IOU

I first discovered  Canal Street Coffee several weeks ago while wandering along the Burke Gilman trail, looking for a place to sit down, enjoy the sun and get some work done. I didn’t give much thought to the state of the cash in my wallet and it wasn’t until I’d placed my espresso order that I realized that there wasn’t a credit card processing machine in sight. I looked at John apologetically and asked, “You don’t take cards do you?”.

“Nope. Just cash, foreign currency and IOUs,” he replied.

I turned and was halfway through my, “I’ve got to go find a cash machine” response before it dawned on me that he’d said he took IOUs. I turned back, looked at him and he smiled, pulled a pen from his jar and wrote the amount I owed him on a scrap of a receipt before handing it to me.

“I’ve been handing out IOUs for 20 years and it’s never cost me a thing, near as I can tell,” John said to me.  I knew immediately that I would be back to repay him and that John was practicing something incredibly rare:

Placing trust in his customers. 

When John offered to accept an IOU he said implicitly: “I trust you to come back and do the right thing.” That simple action spoke volumes about what I could expect from him. It showed me that he was a person who thought about the long-run. It showed that he is in the business of providing not just coffee and a seat but a connection with his fellow man. It made me feel like a human being and it felt wonderful.

What companies trust you?

Think for a moment about how you would feel if you’d been in my shoes that day. I’ve relayed this story to a number of friends and they all say basically the same thing:

“Wow! No one does that. What a great way to treat a customer. I’m going to check it out.”

Are there companies that you do business with who have placed trust in you in a way that John did that day?

Nordstrom. REI.   Sadly, those  are the only two that come to mind for me.

What do you think of those companies?

I trust them to do the right thing

Give the gift of trust. Earn trust in return.

Many of you, our readers, are app developers running your own businesses. You have (hopefully) an ever-increasing group of customers. Do you think your customers trust you? Have you done anything to demonstrate that you’re trustworthy? Have you given your app customers the gift of trust?

We see lots of fantastic apps out there that act completely oblivious to the fact that there are real people using their software. Take a first step down the road of trust by engaging with your app users more. Ask them questions – trust them enough to give you real and honest feedback on your application. Demonstrate to them that you trust them with your time and that you trust their opinions.

In addition to getting excellent information, you’ll get something that is more valuable if you’re doing it right: the trust of your app users.

I keep going back to Canal Street Coffee and it’s not just for the coffee. It’s because I trust John. Make your app users feel the same way.

About Robi Ganguly

Robi Ganguly is the Co-founder and CEO at Apptentive. He is passionate about giving customers a voice via mobile. Follow Robi on Twitter @rganguly.
View all posts by Robi Ganguly >

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