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  • cynthiabethel

Is trust important to small businesses? We believe it's the heart of success.

Can you build a good relationship without trust? Good question, but you probably already know that trust is the most important component when you want to have an ongoing, good relationship with your clients. You expect them to pay you for the job you do. They expect you to deliver value in return. That's step one toward earning a customer's trust, and it starts with your first meeting. Then, over time, you will continue to build trust by the way you treat them. If you take good care of them along your journey together, they'll reward you by referring their family and friends. Just remember, building trust is a long-term process, so get off to a good start and keep your goals in mind. It's a great motivator to go that extra mile to take care of your customers.

What's an easy way to start building trust? Trust can be easily be enhanced by sharing some of your personal experiences. Customers like to know who you are, and will respond better when they know more about you as a person. How did you get started? Why do you do what you do? What are your priorities? Most will respond positively and feel like they know you like a friend.

Do you look for chances to to add value to your clients? If so, if you can a little extra value to your clients, you'll be the winner. You could simply ask your clients about their family, what they do for a living, what hobbies they have, or what they like to do in their spare time. Learning more about your customers can give you an insight into what they value. From a brief conversation, you can probably determine one small thing you can do to add value to them. It won't always be possible, but when it is, it can be a powerful way to build trust.

Do you use social media to let people get to know you as a person? Once you get started building trust, one-on-one, apply what you've learned to your social media posts. Truthful people are engaging. Tell your story. You'll reach more people with an honest, organic connection.

Is your business information accurate on social media platforms?

It's important for people to be able to contact you and feel like you're transparent. Check your business information regularly and keep it up-to-date and easy to find. Communicate what you do and the services you offer, clearly. People don't like to guess what you do. It's frustrating and can leave them wondering what you're up to. That's pretty much the opposite of creating trust. Be easy to find on social media. Display accurate information that tells people what you do. Display your license information, certifications, insurance and awards in all posts and communications. Basically, give them a good reason to trust you to complete their project successfully.

How do you handle critical, or negative comments?

All feedback is an opportunity to learn. Everyone likes to hear praise, but you actually learn more from critical or negative posts. Don't shy away from them. Always respond, and use them to improve your business and your message. It's best to respond quickly and keep it positive. Someone who takes time to write a critical review or post wants to be heard. So listen, and try not to take it personally or respond emotionally. Look at it as a chance to show them that you are listening and want to improve your business or message to address their concerns. You can quite possibly turn them around, and you'll show customers that you take all feedback seriously. Just remember to stay positive, especially on social media.

How do you define good customer service?

Good customer service is the easiest path to building trust. You probably knew that, but what does it mean? Good customer relationships start with clear expectations. Spell out exactly what you'll deliver, then, make it happen. Be responsive to customer questions by taking them seriously. Focus on the conversation. Repeat their questions or concerns to be sure they know you understand them. Tell them how you will address their concerns and give them complete answers. If you cannot fix a problem, at least offer some reasonable options. Use every contact to reinforce their good decision to trust you with their project. Building trust takes time, and every interaction is an opportunity to move you along the path to your goal.

Can you make every customer into a trusted referral?

No. You will not be successful with every client, but odds will be in your favor, if your approach is honest.

Try not to let the ones you cannot reach get you down. There will be some. Learn from those experiences, and know you did your best. Then, let it go. You'll do better next time, and it can help you head off problems sooner, in the future. Every cloud has a silver lining. You just have to look for it. The key takeaway to building trust? Good communication.

Give clear, honest, complete answers. Respond promptly. Stay positive. Be true to who you are; keep it real. Building customer trust is the best marketing you can do for yourself! You've got this!

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