Building trust in your business - who do you trust?
3rd October 2017
Trust means that you rely on someone else to do the right thing. You believe in the person's integrity and strength. Trust is essential to an effective working relationship, because it provides a sense of security and what’s more it can save time, increase productivity and improve creativity. And yet we live in a society that seems to abide by the ‘you can’t trust anyone these days’ rule.
An organisation without trust will be full of backstabbing, fear and suspicion. If you’re working with a supplier you don’t trust, you’ll be checking and double-checking everything they do, sometimes even trying to find mistakes and oversights to ‘prove’ your opinion of them was right all along. Similarly, do your customers trust you? Or are they doing the same to you? And do any of us really have the time and resources to spare to keep up with it all? I know I don’t!
Trust is invaluable to any ongoing working relationship and the perception of whether a company can be trusted is critical to its success with prospective customers. This perception is a precarious but manageable entity, so what can you do to encourage trust in your business?
Be open and honest
It may sound cheesy and of course when you’re selling your wares you focus on the features and benefits, not any weaknesses. However, don’t be dishonest. If you make promises you can’t keep, people won’t trust you the next time you promise them the Earth, so be up-front from the start and you’re more likely to earn their loyalty.
Whether you are dealing with consumers or other businesses, it’s a good idea to publish your business ethics. Let people know what kind of company they are dealing with, let them know you operate in a transparent way and show integrity in what you do – publishing the things you already do on a day-to-day basis makes you more accountable, which can give customers new and old a level of confidence in you.
Encourage open communication
Whether it’s between employees, with suppliers or with customers, the more open your communication channels, the better. Some ideas for ways to improve communication on all levels are to lead from the top – if you are open with your employees and the people you deal with, they are more likely to be open with you; establish internal communications with an internal newsletter or bulletin board for example, so that all employees are kept abreast of important company and product developments; write letters or emails to your customers (particularly B2B) on a regular basis to let them know of any changes that have happened in the company – it’s better they hear news from you than on the rumour mill.
Put a face to a name
We’ve all heard the adage ‘people buy from people’ but it’s true. If we are familiar with the head of a company, or at least the people we deal with on a regular basis, we are more likely to trust them. Make time to visit your customers and potential customers regularly to make sure your relationship is still where you think it is.
Regular PR and marketing activity, whether via direct mail, social media, or the trade or retail press can really help you project the right kind of image to the wider market – to the people you don’t have time to see face to face. Let those who are not as close to your business know what you are doing – investments you are making, new products you are launching, so they feel like they know you. If they feel connected to you they are more likely to trust you and therefore buy from you.
Don’t take existing customers for granted
When you build trustworthy relationships with your customers, they are more likely to remain loyal and recommend you. Talk to them regularly to make sure they are still happy with your offering and ask if there is anything you can do to improve. If nothing else, they will appreciate that you value their opinion.
Trust is a two-way thing, but the more you put in the more you get out.