Breaking someone’s trust is like crumpling up a perfect piece of paper. Sure, you can open it back up again and smooth it over but it’s never going to be the same again. Trust is the currency that all business is built upon as the foundation. It’s what enables your customers to believe in you and for your team to believe in one another. Don’t believe us? Just hop on Yelp and take a look at any good restaurant review. More times than not, people have written in some form or another the essential message of ‘this place fulfills their promise to be great.’ So it stands to reason that when a company betrays the trust of the customer or their team members, then it fails. The devastation can be virtually irreparable.
With the stakes so high, you may be thinking that perfection is the only acceptable goal. Absolutely not! The key as a business is to be transparent, authentic and build trust over time as your main performance indicator. But how?
The showing is in the doing. Demonstrate that you can trust others. Model the behavior that you’d like to experience for yourself. We all make mistakes, so be generous and forgiving when someone else makes a mistake or disappoints you in some way. Give the benefit of the doubt to others when possible as most people don’t set out to be unkind or incompetent. If you always jump to the worst conclusion about another person’s motivations than you’re sure to engender exhaustion and mistrust. Your trustworthiness is tied to your grace and generosity.
Care For People.
Caring is sharing and the same can be said for trust. Make this work for all parties by creating relationships that are mutually beneficial. Customers should see the value in your products and services. Employees should want to take ownership and accountability in their roles. By doing right by your customers and your team, then you are displaying trust in them...and you’ll get it in return. Whether it's a customer, coworker or employee, everyone should feel as though they made the right decision by working with you.
Customers and employees observe how you deal with problems that inevitably arise. To instill trust and loyalty in these relationships, it’s a must to address issues directly. Throughout every step of the customer service process, there is an opportunity to develop or damage trust. You can gain trust by being forthright in sharing information and addressing complaints fast. Communicate pride, passion, and fervor for your work and people take notice. Resolve conflicts as quickly and thoroughly as possible. This is what enables you to build and maintain trust while also separating you from the pack.
Tell the truth. It’s that simple. Do you want honesty from your employees and customers? Give it to them. Don’t assume they can’t handle the truth. Your word is everything. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Keeping your promise is a key factor in telling the truth. Live up to your word whenever possible. If mistakes happen, own up to them quickly and correct them as soon as possible. You never get a second chance to make a first impression and you’ll be known by your integrity.
If you don’t bend, you’ll break. Sometimes, you’ll have to meet people in the middle when it comes to mistakes or misunderstandings. Being intolerant and inflexible will only breed weariness and contempt. When you’re facing problems that aren’t able to be resolved by normal means, then it’s time to consider alternatives that might get the job done in a compromise. Also, it’s important to recognize that everyone is coming with their own set of circumstances and history. There may have been negative events or experiences that have affected one’s ability to trust. At times like these, it’s vital that you exhibit some grace and patience and allow the trust to be built over time.
Whether it’s returning phone calls and emails promptly, being on time for meetings or holding fast to estimated end times, it’s important to be aware and respectful of other’s people’s personal schedule and needs. Trust is built when people know you care about what’s important to them and time is a limited resource. At its essence, it’s a professional courtesy that is in short supply nowadays. Adhering to it will set you apart from the rest.
Trust isn’t just about giving people what they asked for - it’s about giving them more! More convenience, more attention, more service, more time, more….EVERYTHING! Surprise and delight clients by over-delivering and your customers will repay that value with raving reviews, recommendations, and referrals. Those Yelp testimonials for the good restaurants can attest. Deliver the unexpected and you’re a shoo-in for more business.
The award-winning author Frank Sonnenberg says, "Trust is like blood pressure. It's silent, vital to good health, and if abused it can be deadly." Taking the steps above will keep you and your business healthy for now and in the long-term.