By Thomas Young, MBA
Dr. Chris Hart recently spoke at the Better Business Bureau’s Excellence in Customer Service Award Dinner. Dr. Hart gave an excellent presentation that clearly expressed how building trust results in customer loyalty, which results in more profitable customers and a greater chance for marketing and sales success. Most businesses struggle because trust is not yet present in a loyal customer base. Their customers range from merely satisfied to unhappy. Your challenge is to move people into the loyal customer category. This means building trust.
What is Trust?
Trust is the glue that holds the business relationship together and is expressed repeatedly in your actions. This includes what you do and do not do. Simple things are key, such as returning phone calls immediately and being consistent in your words and actions. In this way, trust is an absolutely essential part of sales, as well as business in general. If trust is not present, customers will not buy.
Trust is an Investment
Building trust is not cheap. It is an investment in your service to customers. This means hiring good people and providing them with ongoing training, offering money back guarantees, and going out of your way to meet customer needs better. The catch is that these investments pay off handsomely in improved profits and a strong referral base. Remember, word-of-mouth marketing is the best way to generate new sales. When trust is high, customers go out of their way to tell others about your business.
Eliminate Customer Sacrifices
What do your customers have to put up with to do business with you? These are barriers to success. Look at the companies you are passionate about. How easy is it do to business with those organizations? Remove customer sacrifices and build loyal clients.
Competence and Credibility
Trust is built by showing competence and credibility. Competence is getting the job done right, better than the competitors. It is expressed through knowledge of the client’s needs, your product/service and the ability to work with others. Credibility is your character, integrity and honesty. Only say what you really mean and be a person of integrity. Show genuine concern for the customer through giving and unselfish behavior. The focus is on the customer and his or her needs.
Customers are Honest When Trust is Present
Don’t expect full honesty from people until trust is present. This is why objections really come from a lack of trust. Customers fear that you will take advantage of them if they share their shortcomings with you. When a customer trusts you, they are more inclined to tell you how to meet their needs specifically.
How to Build Trust
Trust is built through frequent interactions. These interactions are your opportunity to build trust. In fact, any interaction you have with customers has an impact on trust. Communication is about trust, not technique. When trust is high, it is effortless; when low, it is a huge burden. Listening builds trust because it shows how much you value the customer. It meets a deep psychological need to be respected as a person.Listening is the single most important thing you can do to build trust. Following are additional ways to build trust:
- Trust customers to do the right thing
- Return all phone calls immediately
- Send thank-you notes
- Be extremely organized and dependable
- Do something different and special, be creative
- Handle complaints promptly with empathy and honesty
- Offer great customer service
- Show sincere appreciation
- Understand your customers
- Become a valuable resource to the client
- Create solutions that add value to customers
- Partner with the customer
- Create a customer, not a sale
- Do not over-promise and do what you say you will do
- Do something that is not expected
- Always give more than expected
- Do these things without any expectation of a return from the customer
Always act in the best interest of your customers. Selling — in fact, doing business — is the process of building a trusting relationship with people. This is not a passing trend or sales technique, but a way of life. Make it your challenge to find at least three ways to build trust with customers this week.
Tom Young, MBA is a sales trainer and marketing consultant helping companies increase revenues.