“If people like you they will listen to you but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”
Trust between you and your customer is an important key to business success. In today’s world of social media we can get caught up in the pursuit of “likes". Most of us recognize this is a fleeting gratification. Instead of striving for "likes" let's find meaningful ways to cultivate trust with our customers so they feel comfortable doing business with us. Ironically our customers will probably "like" us more if they know they can trust us.
Here’s three keys to help grow the trust levels in your business relationships:
Nothing aggravates our customers more than not being able to reach us. As business owners, we should make every effort to return urgent client calls, emails, or texts, in a timely manner. We’ve made it a rule in our businesses to respond to emails, phone calls or texts within 24 hours. If it’s a pressing or urgent matter we do our best to reply within a couple of hours. If you habitually take days to respond you risk losing a client.
I’ve witnessed company managers, and business owners, needlessly delay their responses to clients. This pattern of communication inevitably leaves clients feeling neglected and unappreciated. On the other side of the coin, if you respond quickly to your clients you will gain their trust, they will feel valued, and you will strengthen the channels of communication.
Never Over-promise or Under-deliver
This is another important detail to pay attention to. Creating a habit of over-promising and under-delivering may shred any trust that exists between you and your customers. I’ve observed well meaning business owners, when their backs were against the wall, promise clients delivery dates they knew couldn't be met.
When you continue to over-promise and under-deliver, your clients become increasingly frustrated, and will wonder what they are paying you for. Instead of over-promising try to give your customers realistic delivery targets. One’s you know, at a minimum, you can achieve. If your new to business this takes practice, but over time you’ll become more precise in your delivery projections.
If you must break a promise regarding a delivery timeline, quickly inform the client and apologize, then establish a new target for completion. Although your clients may be disappointed and upset, they will appreciate your honesty and willingness to rectify the situation. And trust stays intact.
Address Issues Directly
Many of us are not comfortable dealing with difficult client situations head on. We tend to default to a position of avoidance. The road of least resistance. But pretending an issue with a customer doesn’t exist, or pushing it off to another day, may lead to a breakdown in trust.
I recall years ago I was assisting a business owner who had every reason to avoid customers, vendors, and anyone involved with their business. The company was experiencing severe financial hardships and a crushing debt load. Creditors were knocking at the door, and clients were upset with delays in their projects. The owner, however, resisted the temptation to turn off their phone and hide. They did their best to keep everyone informed and updated, despite the harsh words hurled their way. Eventually, they maneuvered out of that difficult financial season and remain in business to this day.
As business owners let’s develop a routine where we address difficult customer situations directly. It can take courage, and is often humbling, but it can protect the valuable trust we've built with our customers.