In previous columns, we’ve explored the idea that potential buyers have to know, like and trust you before they’re going to buy anything from you. In this column, I want to dig into the trust part of the equation a little deeper.

I think that the trust goes far beyond trusting your brand promise or trusting that your product will perform. No doubt that’s part of the equation, but I think it goes deeper. The trust level they’re really looking for is the reassurance that they can trust you to take care of them if things go badly.

When you think about it, when we buy something and it all goes according to plan, there isn’t the need for all that much trust. It’s when there’s a problem that we suddenly feel vulnerable. Now we’re exposed – and need to count on the company.

There’s a quote flying around the Internet that says, “Yes, you can show me what you do, but first, show me that you care.” That sums up what prospects really want to know with confidence before they buy.

How do you create that sense of confidence before they actually do business with you?

Put your guarantees and promises in writing: State your intentions and policies clearly and in a very visible place. Use common language (no legalese or weasel words) to explain how you handle problems and how you advocate for your customers. Then, take away any concerns by backing their purchase with a money-back guarantee. The fewer restrictions or complications you have, the more believable and reassuring it will be.

Use testimonials to tout how you care: Use real examples, told from real customers’ points of view, to tell the story of how you have handled problems. Prospects know that things sometimes go wrong. What they need to know is how you actually handle those situations. Let your happy customers tell them they have nothing to worry about.

Put your problems on stage: One of the benefits of social media is that customers use it to complain. Yes, I called it a benefit. There’s nothing more convincing than actually watching a problem being addressed. Encourage your customers to connect with you on social networks, and if one of them raises an issue, deal with it right there, out in public.

Train your people: It’s awesome that you, the business owner, have a spirit for customer care. But odds are, you aren’t the one who interacts with the customers most of the time. Your employees need to understand your company’s policies and beliefs around how you handle customer problems, complaints, etc. They also need to be given both the authority and the responsibility to deal with issues as they come up.

Celebrate your screw-ups: I know, we don’t want people to know we’ve made a mistake or had an issue with our products. But in today’s world of social sharing, believe me, they know. Both as a training aid and a testament to the fact that you actually walk the walk, hold up your mistakes proudly. Talk to your team about them, and in particular, celebrate how an employee turned a bad situation around. Make how he or she handled the problem the star of the story.

If you’ve noticed, several of these suggestions will take place online. The reason for that is simple. Today’s consumers (both B2B and B2C) are doing 60 to 70 percent of their shopping/homework online before they ever contact the company. So you want them to discover how trustworthy you are and how quickly you help a customer in distress long before they walk in your office, pick up their phone or shoot you an email.