Internet Law

Customer Trust is the Key to Your Online Success

Billions of people use computers, smartphones and other digital devices to access the web every day all across the globe. That means a lot of new potential customers for your e-commerce or online business, and if you do things right, it also means a lot of repeat customers.

Just as important as offering the "right" product or service is gaining and keeping your customers' trust. Don't let privacy and security concerns keep customers out of your online shop or office.

Building a Cyber Business Reputation

E-commerce is booming and it brings new customers and markets to serve. You'll need to persuade potential customers to do business with you. They'll be looking at your goodwill and reputation, just like they do with traditional brick-and mortar businesses.

Once customers find your web site, they may be ready to buy your product or service, but need assurance of a safe and secure process. They may check:

  • Online reviews by other customers, either on your site or from outside sources, like consumer review publications
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), which gives information and ratings on online businesses
  • To see if you've done business through third-party sites, such as auction sites, like eBay

Once you and a customer make a deal, live up to your end of the bargain and deliver the goods or services when promised. It goes a long way toward having repeat customers and building your online business' goodwill.

Let Customers Know They Can Trust Your Web Site

You don't want customers to find your well-designed site andĀ find a product or service they'd like to buy, but not complete the deal because your site doesn't look trustworthy. Let your customers know privacy and security are important to you. Savvy consumers know to look for security features and certifications. Make sure they find what they're looking for.

Make your privacy and security policies easy to access. Also, make sure the policies are written in plain language your customers can understand. Skip the techie and legal terms.

It's also very important to tell your customers upfront and in advance about policy changes that could affect their personal information and privacy.

Follow Your Own Rules

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) research and lawsuits show while internet businesses may have proper privacy and security policies, too many don't actually use them. Act on your policies and deliver. Staff at all levels should know and practice your privacy and security policies. The FTC has taken action against companies that don't follow their own security and privacy policies.

Make Security Visible

Expect customers to look for signs your site is trustworthy:

  • They'll check to see if the site has SSL (Secure Socket Layer) security to protect transactions and account data
  • Links and information about your security and privacy policy should be easy to spot
  • Customer service should be easy to contact by e-mail and/or phone and be responsive
  • Posting links and logos for affiliate organizations, such as trade or consumer groups, including the BBB and security and financial service providers, can help consumers decide your business is credible and safe to do business with

A lot of people shop for and buy all sorts of goods and services online. Get in on the action by making sure your customers trust you and your site.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Do different laws or rules apply for taking customer payments online or by phone or mail?
  • If I don't want to host credit card payment services on my web site, are there any legal issues to think about if using a third party payment system or service?
  • Could my company face any out-of-state lawsuits, even in small claims court, based on online purchases?

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