Do not underestimate what trust can do for your brand—especially when 83% of customers say they would happily recommend a brand to others if they trusted it and 82% will continue to use that brand frequently. While trust helps generate positive word-of-mouth, it also creates customer loyalty, which can help your business grow immensely as returning customers spend approximately 31% more than new customers. Customer trust and loyalty go hand in hand and are both crucial factors in a brand's long-term success.

But how does a company get to the point where customers trust them enough to vouch for their products and services? While it’s not something that can be done overnight, there are actionable steps that can help pave the way towards this goal. Here are 5 tips you can start with:

1. Encourage your customers to leave reviews

Encourage your visitors and customers to leave reviews about your product and service. This shows customers you are listening to them and interested in their needs. Customer reviews can also help you uncover areas in which your business can do better, improving your ability to meet your customer’s needs.

Make sure reviews are visible and offer constructive, relevant information—regardless of whether or not the review focused on a product or your service. The more reviews you have on your site, the better, so make sure customers are encouraged to leave a favorable review of their experience after they conduct business with you.

2. Avoid shortcuts and clickbait tactics

Keep in mind that the way you market your business reflects on your actual products and service. If you’re trying to drive traffic to your site and take shortcuts by employing clickbait techniques or overpromising, you’re likely to lose your customers trust and future business. Be honest on what you can offer and make sure that you, at the very least, meet customer expectations. This will establish trust between you and your customers and create a strong foundation for creating a loyal customer base over time.

3. Don’t remove all negative feedback

You can’t please everyone—that is simply the reality of doing business in the real world. Customers understand that so don’t be too quick to delete the negative feedback that comes your way. It actually helps boost a product or service’s credibility. Instead, use the opportunity to show that you care about each one of your customers by responding to negative feedback. A review page with nothing but positive comments will likely make your customers assume that you are filtering out negative ones or are planting fake reviews. This can build distrust among your customers.

4. Treat your customers as you would a friend

Friendships, like most relationships, take time and are built on trust and respect. So, your relationship with your customers shouldn't be much different. By treating your customers as you would a friend, you can establish a strong foundation of trust with your customers that will give them a reason to stay loyal. Plus, impeccable customer service is great for your overall brand reputation since the customer service department is usually the only department that customers come in direct contact with. As a result, one bad interaction can taint an entire brand for a customer.

Customer friendship on a day-to-day basis simply means being available for your customers on all channels, listening to their wants and needs and taking criticism with grace. This will show your customers how much you care about them and value their business.

5. Offer loyalty programs

To maintain trust and build long-term loyalty among customers, make sure that you incentivize them. The best and simplest way to do this is by implementing a loyalty program. Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products than new customers. Offering loyalty programs to existing customers who are already interested in your products further strengthens their ties to your business and lets them know that you appreciate them.

Offering perks such as insider info, exclusive deals and special sales are some examples. You can try out various programs to see what your customers respond to best.

Building trust and loyalty among customers is something that takes time and resources. However, these five steps will get you started in the right direction. Always keep in mind that your customers simply want to feel heard and appreciated, much like a friend. The more ways you can show them they are valued, the more they will trust you and remain loyal to your brand.