The great leader Lee Iacocca once said that business, after all, is nothing more than a bunch of human relationships. How can you build a relationship without trust? You can’t.
Building trust with your clients is essential to your ongoing success and viability. However, it’s an elusive quality – so what can you do to foster it? It takes time and persistence to establish a lasting reputation for integrity, but only moments to lose it. Here are the top six ways to build trust with your clients and keep it.
What is transparency, anyway? It is the process of being honest, open, and straightforward about your company’s operations and intentions. What it actually looks like varies depending on your perspective.
For example, transparency might mean publishing a predictable salary and promotion schedule in your employee handbook so everyone knows what it takes to get to the next level. Among customers, it means being clear about pricing, not tacking on tons of hidden fees or requiring pricey accessories to operate an already-expensive device.
For example, companies that require customers to apply for membership can use technology to inform participants about their application status while they await a decision. Such measures are particularly vital for those applying online. Otherwise, interested parties may not know if they completed the required form or their technology failed until they receive the final notice, causing undue frustration and possibly costing you business.
The fastest way to come off like the stereotypical used car salesperson is to over-promise and under-deliver. Customers today are savvy; they recognize a pitch when they hear one. They expect their purchase to deliver what you say it does, and falling short can mean poor reviews and losing word-of-mouth advertising, the most valuable type of all.
The best way to act with business integrity is to be honest. You can establish a reputation for truthfulness by keeping these tips in mind:
How you communicate with your customer base impacts their impression of your integrity. For example, many companies today establish their presence on social media, which can help build legitimacy if you do so correctly. Posting without interacting with those who respond can make you seem distant, unfriendly, and cold. Instead, consider using technology solutions such as Tweetdeck to make juggling various platforms less cumbersome.
Ensure consistency in messaging. What does this entail? It means your company mission statement, like honoring integrity and diverse perspectives, should shine through in everything from your website to your print marketing materials. You should also make your team recognizable by using the same colors and fonts to ensure prospects associate your purpose with your brand.
Did you know you can learn a lot from negative reviews? While most business owners understandably dislike getting slammed online, you can turn a bad thing around and build trust with your clients. Consider these impressive examples of how to respond to such feedback:
Many companies begin with a great idea. However, failing to survey your customers regularly about what they want can make you seem less trustworthy. Remember that Lee Iacocca quote? How would you respond to a friend who always talked about themselves and never asked how you were doing? Not well.
Therefore, practice active listening. When sending emails, solicit replies by asking customers a pointed question about your product or service and how they would make it better. Post surveys on social media to get a feel for current demand.
Finally, don’t overlook the power of well-chosen freebies. While you don’t want to go too crazy by spending more on promotional products than your budget allows, a touch of the extra mile goes a long way.
For example, if you’re an independent handyman, clean up the dust and debris you leave behind instead of finishing the job and expecting the homeowner to handle the mess. If you sell face creams, consider offering a sample size of a complementary product with each purchase – it serves the dual purpose of improving their satisfaction while enticing them to try something new from your lineup.
Building trust is essential to your business’s longevity. Clients won’t continue using a product or renewing a service provided by someone they believe lacks integrity. Consider the six top ways above to build trust with your clients. It takes time and dedication, but you can establish a stellar reputation and keep them coming back for more.
Eleanor Hecks is the editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.
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