It is an undeniable fact that people do business with people they know, like and trust.
Have you ever wondered, if you could only choose 1 of the 3, which would it be?
Well, I have. And for me, it would be trust. That’s because as far as I’m concerned, elusive as it is, trust is a tangible business asset.
In many areas of business trust is taken for granted. When you go to the supermarket you expect it to have what you want and that the vegetables will be fresh. You expect that Amazon will deliver your package where you tell them to and in good condition as well.
However, there are some areas of business where it must be earned, such as customer service. And when you're a solopreneur or you operate a small business, it's absolutely necessary and non-negotiable.
Meaning of trust in business
But what is trust as it relates to doing business?
For me, it’s when you build and conduct your business on principles and values which are customer-centric and show you’re reliable and trustworthy.
It’s when you understand that at a minimum trust is built on:
1. Competence– which is at the very minimum, meeting your own requirements and paying attention to detail
2. Caring – about the feelings and needs of your customer
3. Communication – constantly, transparently and from a place of empathy
4. Courtesy – displaying good manners and gracious behaviour
5. Experience – keeping your promises and creating a WOW experience for your customers
6. Values – having high standards, backed by integrity, which you meet consistently
Why you need trust in your business
You don’t have to look very far to find instances of businesses and brands behaving in ways which undermine the important relationships they had built up over time with their customers and the public.
There’s the story of the delivery man eating the toppings off a pizza before delivering it to a customer. He’s since been fired but I’m sure we’ll all be forever skeptical about ordering pizza to be delivered.
A survey by Ponemon Institute revealed that in 2017, 79% of us believed that Facebook was committed to protecting the privacy of our personal information. After the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, only 27% of us still believe that.
It’s safe to say, then, that when trust is present in your business, you experience:
1. Customer loyalty and they may easily become your evangelists
2. Wonderful relationships with your suppliers and other stakeholders
3. Happy employees and your staff turnover is usually very low
4. How easy it is for you to attract investment
5. The joy of having money off the table when negotiating
6. Incredible personal growth and high self-esteem
Who wouldn’t want to enjoy these benefits in their business?
But time and time again, I watch in horror as small businesses unwittingly undermine their chances of great success.
Or even worse, they destroy their existing success by failing to establish a solid bond of trust in their business dealings.
So, let’s put an end to that behaviour right now. You can begin with...
5 ways to leverage trust for guaranteed business success
1. Put trust-building on your business agenda
Yeah...how about that? I know it doesn’t seem like something you should HAVE to do but you have to consider it. In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey, son of the famous Stephen R. Covey, describes it as“the one thing that changes everything”.
So go ahead and examine the way you do business. Don't be afraid or ashamed to admit if your level of trustworthiness is not where your customers would want it to be.
You can use these tips to begin to fix that right now!
2. Behave in a trustworthy manner consistently
Generally trust is not something you can turn off and on when you feel like, especially in business. Neither can you dispense it to those you like and withhold it form those you don’t. Either you can be trusted or you can’t. Either your business is built on it or it isn’t!
The thing about trust is that it shouldn't start when you begin doing business. What are your values? Do you have integrity? Do you have a personal code of honor? trust should just be a normal way of life for you.
3. When you mess up, own up and speak up
Translated: mistakes will happen, when they do, you own them fully and fix them quickly. Don’t try to blame others after the fact. You learn from them and you share them publicly, so others can learn from them too.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, annoys me more than a service provider who delivers a service which does not even meet minimum standards and he or she behaves as though by saying nothing about it, it will somehow right itself!
You just have to communicate with your customers in good times and even more so when things go wrong. That's the fundamental difference between a "mover and a shaker" and a huffer and a puffer"!
How best to speak up when you mess up? check out #4 below...
4. Leverage the power of the apology
Nothing builds trust like an apology done well. I really want to give you an example of this.
Recently, I went to a farewell function for a member of an organisation of which I am a past member. It was scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. and finish at t 9:30 p.m. We were also required to contribute a sum of money for food. By 9:19 p.m. when I left, the food had not arrived.
Chances are the caterer apologized to those who were still there when the food arrived. But real trust would have been established if she had called those of us who left without food and apologise as well.
And then it would have gone right through the roof if she had apologized at the next business meeting of the organisation where it would have been formally recorded. But her silence was deafening there as well.
Contrast this with my Coconut Water Vendor. He had promised me to have a half gallon of coconut water ready for me by a certain time but when I got there, it wasn’t ready.
He apolgised, asked if I could wait and then went the extra step of offering me a smaller bottle of cold coconut water to drink while I waited. Do you wonder why people drive for miles to patronize his business?
5. Go the extra mile
Of course you’re required to give the customer or client what they pay for. But the best way to build trust is to surprise and delight them as well.
Give them more – more service, more of your time, more convenience and deliver these in a caring and sensitive way. When you do, you also create a “WOW! Experience” that they would want to tell the world about.
Of course, this requires you to have a high degree of flexibility in your business...
Your next "business trust" step?
By now you understand that trust can be a tangible business asset...especially if your business is small.
I agree that developing and using it requires you to have high personal and professional standards and to be completely customer-centric, but it is sooo worth it!
So, why not start right here.?
Choose any of the 5 tips I’ve given you and try it for 30 days and when you’re finished, choose another one and so on...
Before you know it, you will be doing business on a solid foundation of trust, you will be happy to be in business and the evidence will be in your bank account.