The Right Guarantee Builds Confidence in Your Brand

Specific guarantees need to be tied to what customers expect and care about.

“Guarantee.”

Is there a more soothing word for a customer who isn’t quite sure whether to buy your product and service?

In fact, offering a guarantee is even more important for a small business than a large one, according to a study in the Journal of Service Research. “Consumers may believe purchases from larger firms are less risky than smaller firms and they value service guarantees more highly when they are associate with a greater risk with a purchase,” the researchers concluded.

That said, not all guarantees are created equal. Some promises are more compelling to customers because they seem more precise and realistic.

Here are four types of guarantees for a small business to consider offering:

  1. 1.100 percent satisfaction . It might seem like a no-brainer to offer customers their money back if they they’re not completely satisfied, or let them cancel their trial membership after 30 days for any reason. Such all-encompassing guarantees are so commonplace, though, they’re not seen as something special the company is offering but a right. The moral: 100 percent satisfaction is great, but it’s become table stakes, so you need to guarantee 100 percent and more. How? Read on.

  2. Make specific promises. A small business can add oomph to its guarantee with some specific examples that can crystallize the promise in the customer’s mind. For example a computer repair company boosted sales 11 percent when it offered a full money back guarantee. However, the company’s sales grew 21 percent when it tossed on some extras on top of the full guarantee, such as “fast, friendly service.” The moral: Adding some specifics to a “full money back” or “100 percent satisfaction” makes the guarantee seem more compelling and realistic.

  3. Make a customized promise. Service providers are sometimes wary of making promises. For example, a public speaking coach might hesitate to promise a customer that he’ll communicate better—that’s too vague. Wes Higbee, a management consultant, says the key is to create a custom promise based around a customer’s specific objectives for buying the service.
    For example, the coach can provide a guarantee around a measureable objective—that the coaching will help decrease disputes among department heads. The moral: Any type of business can offer an effective promise with a little thought.

  4. “We’ll be here for you.” Among the biggest frustrations for customers is not being able to reach someone quickly when they have an issue. Guarantees that address specific customer concerns head on can cause them to give you a try. The moral: Showing you have a customer’s back with specific criteria for how they will be served is a sure way to build confidence and loyalty.

A solid guarantee shows a company’s belief in its own products and services, as well as commitment to customers. And that reduces the chance of the customer leaving you for a competitor, according to the Journal of Research.