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How to develop and nurture trust with your customers

Smile. When you smile you look your best. You look friendly. We are more likely to relax and smile back.

Demonstrate active listening

Look at them when they talk to you. Position your body to show that you are interested in what they say versus preparing to run away.

Show that you can see it from their perspective.

This is important when a customer has a complaint. You can say, “I understand your view.” That does not mean that you agree with them. Most just want you to understand.

Under promise and over deliver

If you believe you can deliver by Thursday – then don’t promise “Wednesday or Thursday” The customer will hear Wednesday and when it arrives Thursday they will think you are late. Instead say, “You will have it by the end of this week” and when it arrives Thursday they will be delighted that it was early.

Set Clear Expectations

Clarify what each of you can expect from this relationship, project or transaction. Writing down expectations is a good way to clarify. Ask probing questions to discover their needs, values and expectations They will be impressed by your interest and thoroughness. And you will learn how to keep the trust alive.

Follow up

Can’t say this enough. Follow up, follow up, and follow up

Ask permission to continue

While you are talking to your customer, occasionally ask them if they would like to hear more about… By asking them permission you demonstrate respect for them.

Ask them what they want before you give it

They will feel in control and appreciate both your respect and the thing you give them. Don’t be like the waiter that wasted my time by announcing all the specials after I already decided what I wanted.

Avoid the use of absolutes

When you use words like “always” or “never” we might question the truth of that statement. When you use phrases like “everybody knows” and “everyone needs this” we know you are lying.

Be Real

We can usually tell when you are faking it. Instead just be who you are. Be the best person you can be but be real. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not.

Demonstrate respect for their values

Don’t dismiss their beliefs or trash their values. If the value is part of their decision-making process then you might ask, “Tell me why that is important to you.”

Offer sincere compliments

Be real and be sincere. Depending on their accomplishment, milestone or decision you might complement them in person, over the phone or via a note.

Respect their time

Ask how much time they have. Ask about their deadlines. And before you head into a meeting or presentation tell them how long it will take and stick to that. Don’t ask for two minutes and take five. Instead ask for five and take four. Don’t be like the store clerk who told me he would be a “sec” then disappeared for several minutes.

Give them control – don’t trap them

Offer your customer options – let them chose the direction of the conversation. Don’t be like the Time Share rep who started his presentation with “Do you like vacations?” That was clearly a question to trap his listeners and not a sincere question.

Offer examples of how you have helped other customers

Use success stories from other customer situations. Try, “You know one of my customers had the same concern as you, and here is how we worked to solved that” This is a good time to show written customer testimonials.

Be respectful of others – past clients, associates and competitors

Don’t trash anyone. Because we will wonder what you might say behind our back.

Anticipate their need for proof before they trust you

Don’t say “Trust me” Instead take the approach that you must prove yourself to you’re your clients’ trust.

Admit your failings and apologize

You are not perfect. We don’t expect you to be. We expect you to apologize when you mess up – and we will forgive you.

Thank people

We want to be appreciated. Thank customers for their business. Thank associates for their help. Thank staff for their extra effort. Depending on the deed you could thank them in person, with a note or gift.

Don’t blame, complain or make excuses

That annoys and discourages people from doing business with you. Who wants to be around someone who is often complaining? Don’t you wonder about someone who has excuses for why they can’t be successful? Would you buy from a business where people sound miserable?

Stay in contact over time

To keep trust alive over time – you need to do things over time to maintain that. Stay in touch with past customers by mail, phone or email. Don’t let them forget you.

George Torok