Before our connected, “always on” society, where typing a few words into a search engine can retrieve just about anything that’s ever been published, it was easy for breaks in trust to be forgotten. A salesman could say all of the right things then drop out on a promise after the sale. A few years later, people might not even remember. A company could provide terrible service, and no one would typically know except for the people in the angry ex-customer’s circle.

Today, it’s a different story. If a company or person were to do something like that, they could end up with an entire YouTube channel dedicated to how much the company stinks or how terrible the person is. And because the internet rarely forgets, that information can be retrieved for years or even decades with a simple search.

Customers and prospects won’t automatically trust that you can deliver. Often, before they choose someone with whom they do business, they will search for feedback about you and your company. They may even ask about you in their social networks before making a purchase or visiting your store.

Trust has become one of the most critical aspects of any customer relationship, and with all of the tools at a customer’s disposal helping them get a clear picture of the truth, one misstep can damage that trust. So, it’s more important than ever to build trust carefully and consistently over time. Trust building must be seen as one of the intentional goals of your message, content, promise, promotion, delivery, follow through, and measurement. So, pay attention to these four considerations when it comes to building trust.

1. Your Reputation. What others say about you reveals a great deal. There are some businesses that live and die today on the reviews from customers. This is an area that you must pay attention to.

Reviews have an impact on SEO and also provide some measure of proof that you do what you say. It’s important to cultivate the glowing reviews of your customers and show appreciation for those reviews.

2. Your Actions and Words. So much of what we do in business today is public, thanks to social media and other vehicles. A prospect can effectively check you out and even engage with your company to some extent without your knowledge. They can observe how you interact on Twitter, how you provide service, respond to a negative Yelp review, or even how you promote your business.

If your business is not a shining example of the point of view and service you’re asking your prospects to embrace, there’s probably going to be a trust disconnect at some point.

3. Convenience. This one is a big bucket. You can do and say all the right things, nail your value proposition, and promote scores of reviews from raving fans. However, if it is difficult to make a purchase from your business, all that trust building you worked so hard on will be for naught. Convenience has become a value proposition, and we just want things to work the way we think or have grown accustomed to them working.

At least once a quarter, go through the process of becoming a customer at your business. Speak with new customers and prospects to understand how they actually experience your business. These insights may reveal obstacles of which you’re unaware.

4. Your Social Proof. One of the greatest challenges for a business just getting started is that they can offer no proof of existing customers getting great results. But offering proof of results is a quick way to garner trust. If a prospect can see documented results from a customer with the same issue, it’s easy for them to imagine getting that same result for their business.

You must work very hard at measuring, reviewing and documenting the tangible results of your work on behalf of your clients if you want to demonstrate the ultimate trust marker. Testimonials, case studies, and other storytelling mechanisms are great formats in which to do so.

Building trust as a marketing asset isn’t about making things up that allow you to look and sound good. Rather, it’s about amplifying the fact that you can be trusted to perform as promised--and backing it up with proof of a track record in doing so.