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  • cynthiabethel

Trust is a key factor for any successful business. It's important to understand why.

What does it take for you to trust someone? Think about that for a moment. Can you build any kind of real relationship without trust? Think of teams that cannot function without trusting their teammates. The short answer is: No, but why is trust so important?

Trust is required to create positive ongoing relationships. There is an assumed agreement that you will each hold up your end of a the relationship. In business, you expect to be paid for the work you do, and, in exchange, your clients expect you to deliver what you promise. Simple right? But this is just step one toward earning a customer's trust, and the relationship starts with your first meeting.

Over time, you need to focus on nurturing the initial trust, so that it grows into a relationship that can create loyal customers. As you continue to treat them with respect and honor your promises, they will reward you with ongoing business and referrals to family and friends.

Something to keep in mind, however, is that building trust is a long-term process, so once you get off to a good start, keep your goals in mind. You want this customer to stick with you for a long time, especially if they are the kind of customer that is good for your business. You can use this to motivate yourself to go the extra mile for them, even when you're tired. No one said working for yourself was easy, but the rewards can be tremendous.

So, what's an easy way to start building trust? Trust can be enhanced by sharing some of your personal experiences. Customers like to know who you are. They will respond better when they know more about you as a person. How did you get started? Tell people why you do you do. What motivates you to do a good job? Most will respond positively when they feel like they see the real you. They see you as someone they can relate to and trust.

Most successful people look for opportunities to add value to their clients. When you come across a good idea for a client, the client will see it as an added value that you are looking out for them, but the real winner is you. When there's time, ask your client about their family, or what they like to do on the weekend or hobbies they have. Learning more about your customers gives you insights into their interests and what's important to them. From a brief conversation, you can probably determine one small thing you can do to add value to them. It's a powerful way to build stronger relationships. Take notes. They will come in handy down the road.

Using social media to tell people more about you as a person can increase response to your posts. Once you get started building trust, one-on-one, apply what you've learned to your social media posts. Truthful people are engaging, and telling your story can help people connect with you.

Make sure your business information is accurate on social media. 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 and honestly. People don't like to guess what you do. It's frustrating. Make sure you're easy to find on social media, too. Mention relevant information to boost credibility, like a business license, certifications, insurance or awards in posts and communications. Basically, give them confidence that you are good at what you do and have what it takes to complete their project successfully.

Make great customer service a priority. Without doubt, this is extremely important in building and maintaining trust with clients. So what is good customer service? It starts with setting clear expectations with potential, or repeat, clients. Spell out what you'll deliver, in detail. No one likes surprises and assumptions can be deadly. You might assume a client understands what you will deliver, but don't count on it. Spell it out clearly, and in writing is better than just saying it. Then, ask for questions, so you have another chance to clear up misunderstandings and set accurate expectations in the client's mind, before you start working.

Another thing to consider is how you handle conflict with a client, if there is a misunderstanding. All feedback is an opportunity for you to learn what to do better next time. No one likes hearing negative comments, but it's also a chance to turn things around and create even more trust with a client. It's best to respond quickly and keep things positive. For example, someone who takes time to write a critical review wants to be heard. Let them know that you heard them and want to understand why they're upset. This is your opening and a chance to turn things into a positive communication. Never take it personally or respond emotionally. One of you being upset is enough. Just taking time to listen can change the tone, and following through with any changes that you need to make will show clients you took them seriously. If social media is involved, it's even more important to stay positive. Whatever you post on social media will be there for a long time. If you're too upset to answer positively, walk away and do not respond until you cool down.

Whenever you're responding to criticism, 1) focus on the problem, 2) repeat the question or issue being communicated by the client so they know you heard them, 3) tell them how you can address it, or if you cannot do exactly what they want, give them options to consider. Use it as another opportunity to show them that you value their business and reinforce their decision for trusting you with their project. Stay focused on your goal: building trust and loyal client relationships for ongoing repeat business and powerful referrals.

One final takeaway is to know when to walk away from a client. If you've tried everything to create a good relationship and it's not working, you may need to let them go. You only have so many hours in a day and it's important to concentrate on clients that are willing to respond you the effort you've shown to be your best self. Do not neglect the clients you've built good relationships with for someone that will possibly never trust you. However, give every one your best shot. The odds are in your favor.

The key takeaway to building trust is good communications.

Give respectful, clear, honest, and complete answers to questions. 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.


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