We are all operating in an era in which our customers have a lot of options. As a consumer of goods and services, this reality can be tremendous – you have unlimited options. However, as a business selling goods or services, it creates a daunting level of competition. Often, companies are competing with firms that are halfway around the world and that they might not even know exist.
This makes it imperative to create a connection with prospects and customers and to continually nurture that relationship. The best foundation for that relationship is trust; a relationship built upon trust makes it far more likely for prospective clients to choose you and for current clients to stay with you.
That means now is the time to solidify those client relationships. To help you do this, here are seven ways for you to build trust with your clients and prospects:
- Treat them like people, not accounts. The multitude of options that customers have today means that they have the power. They do not want to be treated like a line on a spreadsheet; they want to be treated like a human being. That means treating them like a friend – communicating frequently, going the extra mile, and helping them when they face challenges. Remember, if you do not demonstrate that you care about your clients as people, someone else will.
- Over-deliver. This might be difficult to do in some professions, and it could run contrary to the way your firm conducts business. However, there are degrees of over-delivering; perhaps instead of just meeting a deadline, you beat the deadline.
- Do not over-promise. If your salespeople conduct themselves a certain way and overpromise, they are setting you up for failure. Even if your execution team does what it is supposed to do, it is going to come up short. This leads directly to a lack of trust and creates a hole that your business needs to dig out of.
- Treat a customer like a valued partner. It seems that just about every business talks about how they treat their customers as “partners.” But do they actually do it? Usually, no. Being a partner means working side-by-side toward a common goal. Sometimes it is delivering uncomfortable news because you feel it will move your client closer to that goal. This is how a true partner acts.
- Eliminate negative surprises. One negative experience can undo years of positive service. It has been said that it takes 12 positive service experiences to make up for one negative experience. Keep your customers in the know when it comes to positive and negatives changes to your products and services that affect them. It is always best to break your own bad news, and to do it early.
- Be honest. Even when it is difficult, be truthful with the client. They may not want to hear it, but they are paying you to provide insight, including insight that is not necessarily good news.
- Be gracious. You are working with your client to reach a certain goal. You are not there to prove how smart you are and you are not there to boost your ego; if you achieve the goal, the client will be convinced of your brainpower. And, yes, “thank you” still goes a long way.
Contact us at 215.441.4600 if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.