This podcast episode is about helping you to establish trust in your business. We’ll be talking about the trust that needs to exist between you and your customers, you and your employees, and you and your vendors. As a customer, it’s essential that I trust the organization or professional I am doing business with. Whether it’s my hair stylist, my family doctor, the local Best Buy where I get my electronic equipment, or the local sports bar and grille in town where I grab a Friday night pizza after a long week, if I don’t trust the establishment, I won’t be doing business with them.
Gaining my trust and yours is relatively simple. There are so many ways a company can do this.
You can stock the items you say you have on sale. How many times have you heard or read about a sale, gone to the store only to find that they are “out of stock” the morning the sale starts? It kind of makes you wonder if you have been lured into the store under false pretenses. We’ve all heard of bait and switch. Another way to gain my trust is to be open during the hours that are posted on your front door or at your website and to uphold what you promise in your marketing literature. As a consumer, another way for me to trust you is to ensure that your marketing message is consistent from your website to the check-out experience. It’s important to always be thinking about how what you are saying and writing about your business converts to all of the procedures, marketing activities, and policies that should be driving customers through your front door, regardless of whether you have an actual front door or a home page. Finally, as a consumer, I want you to promise that when you say that customer service matters to you, make sure your employees actually behave that way and when you see them responding to customers in ways that are inconsistent with your message, call them out on it. Ultimately, it’s going to make their lives simpler. When I am working in the capacity as a vendor, I want to trust you too. I want you to honor our contract if we have one. I want you to communicate with me so I can serve you the way I know you want me to. I want you to pay your invoice on time so I don’t have to track you down and beg you for the money you owe me for a job that was well done. I want you to occasionally give me feedback or thank me to let me know that I am on track with how you want to be served. And employees need to trust the organizations they work for too. Put yourself in the employee’s shoes and know that for them to trust you, you need to focus on them when you are interacting with them. This is especially important when it comes time for performance reviews or when you are coaching a subordinate on a new skill. Employees also need to see that human resource rules are applied consistently across the board. They need to see that the organization honors fairness. It’s hard for employees to see colleagues arriving late to work and not being reprimanded about it when others are at their workstations on time or even early to start their work at the beginning of their shift. In order for employees to trust you, they also want to hear words of praise for a job well done or a thank you if I, as an employee, have done above and beyond on a project. The feedback helps me know that you care and are watching. What I would love for you to keep in mind is that trust is earned and can only be earned over time. The good news is, if you play your cards right trust can build quickly. The bad news is, trust can be lost as quickly as it can be earned. Each encounter and transaction matters and that is why it is so important to monitor what’s happening in your organization with mystery shopping programs, customer surveys, focus groups, and other forms of market feedback. When interacting with your customers, vendors and employees in even the simplest of exchanges, keep these three things in mind:
- Be present. Really focus on what your customer, vendor and employees have to say. No multi-tasking. No impatient body language signals. No rushing the conversation. Show up for the exchange. Customers, vendors and employees know when you’d rather be somewhere else.
- Be vulnerable. Open up to your customers, your vendors, and your employees by having honest discussions and exchanges with them. Vulnerability is the opposite of being protective. Open your heart and mind. Relax and let the interaction unfold. Vulnerability makes for a more open exchange.
- Always give more than you get. If a customer, vendor, or employee asks for something from you, give them what they asked for then give them something unexpected. The generosity will come back to you a thousand times.