Trust is the oil that lubricates every business transaction. When you buy a product, you trust the catalog or web page to describe it accurately. You trust that it will work how the salesman said it would. You probably trust the supplier's delivery promise, too. When they said it would arrive Wednesday, you expect it Wednesday.
Trust is important, but building it is hard. There are no shortcuts, but there are some principles you can follow. Here’s some insight on why trust matters and a compilation of advice on how to build it.
Why build trust?
When customers trust a business and their products they come back and buy again. They're willing to try new products from that company, because they had a good experience. Most importantly, they'll recommend the company and its products to their friends.
Personal recommendations are like gold in business. That's because people only recommend a product or service that they trust not to let them down. No one is going to suggest their friends buy something that doesn't work well or buy from a company that breaks its promises. Of course, once trust is established it's vital not to break it!
A trust chain
In business, trust flows through multiple hands. It's more than just a one-to-one relationship. Customers have customers. A contractor purchases a part and installs it for his customer, who may be the end user, but could themselves have customers or contacts in need of the same solution. In effect, the end user trusts everyone else in that chain to deliver a product that works as it should.
How to build trust
Countless relationship experts and consultants have advice to offer on this subject. The words vary, but the sentiments are similar. Here's a distillation of what they say.
- Act with Integrity - Do what you say you will. Don't say one thing, but do something different. Don't make promises you know you can't keep.
- Be Honest and Sincere - Mean what you say. Keep the customer informed, even when the news is bad. If you make a mistake, own up to it and do what you can to make it right.
- Demonstrate Competence - You have to know what you're doing and show it in the way you do your job. Understand your products and how they are used. Know their limitations too.
- Be Reliable and Keep your Promises - If you say you'll get back to someone by the end of the day, do it.
- Show Consistency - People expect individuals to be predictable. An unpredictable person is hard to deal with, and the same goes for an unpredictable organization. Every employee should provide the same standard of support to the customers.
Work at it!
Trust is essential in business, and the better a business is at building trust the more successful it's likely to be. Building that trust can take years though. It's about actions, not words. The points listed above are key, with the last being the most important: be consistent in everything you do, then people will come to trust you.