“The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of our time.” Stephen R Covey.
Gaining trust while doing business is an immeasurably difficult task. It takes years to establish yourself in a market, and even longer to gain a customer’s trust when it comes to them choosing your organisation over the competition.
While there’s a number of CEOs and managers out there that try to quantify this figure out ways of accelerating the trend, the reality is that trust is something that takes a long time to foster. Luckily, however, it’s not a difficult task to find out exactly what it is your clients and the general public value in customers… it just takes a little bit of empathy and respect; which for some is more of a task than for others. Putting yourself in their shoes can provide some simple – but valuable – insight into what you need to change in your organisation.
Transparency is key to building trust, so if there’s some evidence of trickery in how you onboard new clients, consider changing these into above-board practices that aren’t unethical.
Some important things to keep at the forefront of your mind in this context are an emphasis on customer service, being socially active and visible, improving your security, underpromising and over-delivering on your product or service and finally, having a high level of communication. You need to make your organisation appear as though it’s always available to help its customers.
On this note, another key area when it comes to growing trust between your organisation and clients echoes that Theodore Roosevelt was talking about in his famous quote: “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s important to train your staff with a customer-centric – rather than money-centric – approach to doing business, so you ensure that in every possible transaction or thread of communication between your brand and a potential customer, their concerns are at the forefront of your decision making.
The one thing, that separates organisations from the rest of the pack in this context is the attention and resources that they allocate to dealing with customer complaints, feedback and general communication. The speed in which you reply to a customer’s email is a pretty clear indicator of how valued they are, and if you’re not setting the standard high in this regard, you’re missing out on one of the most simple ways of ensuring your organisation is developing a trusting relationship with the client. An effective way to manage this is by implementing a quality management system in your organisation.
If we move this conversation to the context of data security just briefly, this is where you’re likely to see years worth of hard work in developing relationships and rapport with clients disintegrate if your organisation doesn’t take data security seriously. In handing over their personal information to your organisation, they expect that this information stays with you- the person or group they’ve handed it over to. If you’re unethical in your practices- depending on your industry – surrounding marketing and the possible sale or misuse of customer data, this is likely to be detrimental to your organisation in the future if word gets out. It’s an increasingly difficult environment to operate in, and that’s why in 2019, having an extremely robust set of security protocols is more essential than ever before. Developing an information security management system can assist in managing the risk of such occurring.
Appreciative inquiry is another good way to inspire innovative new processes and procedures in your organisation, which can ultimately lead to a more trustworthy relationship between customers and your organisation. If you allocate appropriate time and resources to consolidating what you’re already doing well, this indicates to your customers that you’re committed to continually improving, which they’ll be responsive to.
On the flip side of the equation, if customer feedback is indicating that there’s an area that your organisation needs to improve, say in the customer service area, for example, your organisation needs to be prepared to invest time and money into solving the problem. This isn’t the time or place for complacency, as one bad customer experience can cascade into a raft of unhappy customers that, once they’ve lost trust and subsequently their confidence in your organisation, they’re unlikely to return and very likely to spread the word about your underperformance… word of mouth is, of course, one of the most powerful forms of feedback.
While it might take a long time to gain your customer’s trust, the harsh reality is that it takes mere seconds to lose it indefinitely. I’ve noticed a clear trend in the demands of customers when it comes to environmental expectations, and new-found concerns about the integrity of an organisation’s online security when they’re handing over their data, so these are two simple things to keep in mind when considering how to improve your organisation’s standing. Again, empathy is a key buzzword to refer back to throughout the process, and it will help you identify new ways to improve your services and see how the transaction can be improved as you move into the future.