Trust is built from the ground up. In life, actions often speak as loud as words, and we tend to trust people who are consistent, reliable, and actually do what they say they are going to do. This is equally as true in small business and self-employment as it is in your personal relationships and friendships.
Trust is not something that is built in one day or through one business meeting, but something that is steadily established over time through your credibility, your actions, and the results you deliver. The flip side to this is that trust can be lost more easily than it can be established, so in business it is vital to value long-term relationships more than short term “wins”.
Establishing and maintaining trust is a truly great thing in business, if you can achieve it. Here are three key tips for building trust with your customers.
1. Communicate clearly
Your clients will find it more difficult to trust you if you do not maintain open and clear lines of communication with them. Any ambiguity in your message, whether it be conveyed verbally or through non-verbal cues, does not help you to build trust with your customers.
In the modern world how you connect with your customers might take in a range of formats, including a number of different methods of electronic communication. Regardless of the medium through which you are communicating, aim to be courteous and clear. Face-to-face meetings are often far more effective in building trust than faceless communication that takes place by email or telephone. If you cannot meet in person, it is worth considering whether you might engage in a Skype or Facetime conversation.
It is also important to establish a level of rapport with your customers, which can only be achieved through holding a genuine dialogue…and not through a sales pitch!
2. Be open, honest and sincere
Be open and honest with your customers and, to paraphrase Spike Lee, always aim to “do the right thing”. Your clients are smart and intuitive — that’s why they are dealing with you, after all! And they will be very quick to detect any lack of integrity or sincerity on your part.
Aim to be yourself and to be transparent. Admit mistakes and don’t look to “pass the buck” when things don’t play out exactly as planned. Your clients will appreciate your honesty, particularly if you can present a credible plan of action for recovering the error.
3. Always aim to over-deliver
Always aim to over-deliver to your service to your clients, every time. In business, someone who can give without strings attached will build trust.
Promising and delivering a great service is the best way there is to establish trust with your clients. Be reliable and consistent and aim to secure mutual benefits or “win-win” outcomes.
Of course, over-delivering to your clients also requires an in-depth understanding of your customers, and their wants and needs, so you will need to hone your listening skills too.
Consistency is key
Trust is not something that can be established overnight; it must be built over time. Remember that actions can speak as loud as words, and your customers will come to trust you if you are consistent, reliable, and actually do what you say you will!