Communications Are Key to Building Customer Trust
What is the key to your building customer trust? In my opinion, effective communication is the cornerstone of any optimum customer trust. In today’s fast-paced business world, having a range of communication channels available such as phone, e-mail, instant messaging, fax, etc. is key to maximizing your ability to communicate effectively and ultimately build customer trust.
Communications are the source to inspire desirable outcomes.
The most valuable business commodity is trust. Richard Branson, author, and founder of Virgin Group says:
“Building trust in your brand isn’t easy to achieve and it may take time, but it doesn’t have to come at a high cost. With honesty, ambition, hard work, and attention to detail you can instill a level of trust that will enable you to move forward.”
The fact is that integrity impacts all aspects of business and is among, if not the most important character trait for a company to have. It is the barometer by which your customers, potential business partners, and employees evaluate you and your business.
Related: 10 Laws of Customer Experience Design
A trustworthy business can be defined in many different ways depending upon the person, business, or organization reviewing it. Here are five ways you can build trust in your business:
Deliver on what you say
Doing what you say you are going to do when you say you’re going to do it is crucial to building trust. Famous entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn said,
“One customer well taken care of could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.”
Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful company. In today’s fast-paced business world, having a range of communication channels available such as phone, e-mail, instant messaging, fax, etc. is key to maximizing your ability to communicate effectively with customers.
Consistency goes hand in hand with providing great service build on solid trust. Internal expectations lead to external results. From a business perspective, consistency applies to every aspect of who you are and what you do.
Build a solid reputation
Potential customers and business partners will search for information about you and your business online. According to a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, 90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. It’s crucial to manage your online reputation and establish an active social media presence, website, and blog.
Transparency is another competency that should come naturally. Yet so many businesses have trouble coming to terms with what it really means.
Customers and clients are smart. They know when you’re being upfront or when they are told a mistruth. If honesty is the best policy, they’ll appreciate and admire you more when you admit to a mistake, rather than playing games or even worse, avoiding the topic altogether.
Don’t try to hide or cover up your errors. Address the issue directly, explain how you will handle it, and share what steps are being taken to prevent the errors from occurring in the future.
Example to illustrate
Here is an example from a recent personal experience. It illustrates that an absence of communications represents a means to lose customer trust. Let me elaborate.
On the recent weekend, we expected family and friends would be dropping by at irregular intervals with their various activities — making regular meals less likely.
I decided to stop at a favorite sandwich shop near our Cayuga home in upstate New York to pick up some bite-size deli sandwiches so we would have some easy snacks available whenever anyone was hungry. However, we are not fans of their lox and cream cheese sandwiches which are part of their pre-made party platters.
I asked if I could get a selection without these sandwiches and they confirmed this was possible — but would require a wait while they made up the platter. No problem. I placed my order and said I would be back in the recommended 15 minutes.
When I returned to pick up my order they rang it up and I was surprised that the price had increased by 50% versus the posted price. When I questioned the accuracy of the bill, I was informed that mine was a custom order and this resulted in the surcharge. This was the first I heard of any surcharge. It was also something never charged in the past.
I asked to speak to the manager since I felt they should have mentioned this when I placed my order so I could have decided whether I wanted to; 1) pay the surcharge, 2) take the standard platter, or 3) not order at all.
The manager claimed he was unaware of the surcharge and would look into it — but was unwilling to take any action.
I left wondering what function this manager played. He claimed ignorance of a policy that a cashier was implementing — yet was unwilling or unable to do anything about the policy.
More importantly, I was surprised by his complete lack of interest in the issue. It was simply, “I don’t know and I don’t care”.
Of course, the issue was not the charge or the amount. The issue was that an extra charge was not clearly communicated to me and the result was that I was surprised by the change.
This left me feeling trapped into a purchase I may not have wanted. And the lack of communication at the start and the lack of management action at the end clearly destroyed my business trust.
On a more expensive purchase, in addition to breaking trust, this could lead to embarrassment if the customer was unwilling or unable to pay the demanded amount.
It is critical that any extra charges be clearly communicated to customers before the service is provided.
Plus, it is equally important to make sure that you communicate the reason(s) for the extra charge in a manner that demonstrates value to the customer.
Transparency is a key driver of customer trust which supports satisfaction and loyalty. Don’t risk losing a customer because you assume they understand your pricing structure and that there are no hidden surprises.