Is trust the most valuable asset in the world?
In a world rife with fake news, turbulent world politics and rampant social media opinion-sharing, it’s no wonder that trust is hard to come by. But for business, trust is rapidly becoming one of the most valuable – and fragile – commodities. So how can businesses earn and build trust in these uncertain times?
It’s no coincidence that more and more businesses are using customer reviews more visibly on their websites. Reviews are an enormously important part of a customer’s choice in where to spend their money these days. With the exponential rise of online trading, it’s harder to know who to trust, so more businesses are using third party review sites like Trustpilot as a stamp of trustworthiness for service and products alike.
Trust is a tricky thing to earn, and harder to maintain. It is fragile, and harder to win back each time it is broken. People’s commercial allegiances can be fickle, so how do you encourage trust and loyalty from customers who have so much choice at their fingertips?
Authenticity trumps perfection
It’s OK to admit you got it wrong. Just as the parents among you will be used to saying, if a mistake has been made, it’s always better to own up, tell the truth and find a way to make it right.
A customer will appreciate honesty; no-one really believes that perfection exists, or that any business can get 100% of things right, 100% of the time. But when mistakes happen, honesty and action will go a long way to improve things.
Communication is vital for damage limitation
Customers don’t really expect perfection. We all know and understand that mistakes happen.
So too can businesses own their mistakes. A genuine apology and action taken to make up for what went wrong will go a long way with customers, so it’s important to keep those lines of communication open.
Make sure customers know how to report an issue – if they feel listened to and appreciated, they’re far less likely to take to social media or leave a damaging negative review in a public place.
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for their opinions as well. People like to feel heard, and giving them a platform to share their thoughts can be highly valued.
Your customers are your most powerful marketing tool – but it’s totally up to them
You can’t force your customers to shout about how great you are. They have to want to. And what makes them want to? Great service. That little bit “extra” that you give, that your competitors don’t. The personal touch.
A customer is not going to go out on a limb and recommend your business to a colleague, family member or friend if they don’t trust you. If you do a bad job, that comes back to their recommendation. When a customer recommends you personally, that’s a huge compliment, and a huge mark of their trust in you.
Make it count.
8 WAYS TO BUILD TRUST IN YOUR ORGANISATION - AND BEYOND
Align internal and external values and voice so everyone in your workforce is consistently saying the same things about your business. If you truly live and breathe those values, they will too, and the ripple effect will soon make its way to your customers.
Support your people. Mistakes happen; be understanding. Potential won’t be realised if people aren’t given the freedom to experiment, and make mistakes, but if they are afraid of the repercussions it can hold them back. A supported and appreciated workforce is an engaged and productive workforce.
Communication is everything. Honesty and responsiveness are key. Make it clear how customers can contact you, and be open and honest about mistakes. Authenticity trumps perfection any day of the week. Remember the basics - the pleases, the thank yous. A bit of sincere appreciation goes a long way.
Use customer reviews and client testimonials visibly to show your trustworthiness; if a picture is worth a thousand words, a customer’s positive review is worth several thousand of your marketing department’s!
Be as good as your word – live the values you want others to see in you and deliver on your promises. And if it turns out to be impossible, good communication can really limit the damage it causes!
Use data to satisfy the logic behind emotional engagement – in short, PROVE it. If 99% of your deliveries have been on time for the last 9 months, get that statistic in front of people. And if 99% of your customers would recommend you – use that too. Data and facts are so important these days, where truth is so hard to identify, so where you have actual data to back up your claims, make sure you use it.
The more trust you give, the more trust you earn. So empower your people – trust them to do their jobs, without micromanaging or controlling too tightly. At a time where more people work from home, let them prove their responsibility – you will be pleasantly surprised. Sure, have safety nets and so on to keep them feeling secure (like credit limits and margin protection), but give them the freedom to do their thing, and make sure you reward them for it.
Respect every worker, supplier and customer equally. Not just the biggest spenders, the longest-serving, the heaviest discounters. Respect works both ways, and the more trust and respect you treat others with, the more you will earn. Suppliers and service providers are a vital part of your operations, so they deserve the same respect you’d show a customer or employee – and of course, it’s up to them to justify and validate that trust in return.
NOW IT'S YOUR TURN
How have you built trust with your workforce, customers and suppliers? We’d love to hear about the role of trust in your organisation.