The beginning of the end of trust
Trust makes our world go round. Period. In business that is what you really sell and you can only do that when people trust you personally first and foremost.
Today I am shaking the snow globe of anyone who interacts with customers. In a business setting nothing can be worse than to mutter the words “maybe”, “I think so”, “supposedly”, “perhaps”, etc. in the context of handling customer questions. Well, actually there is something worse and that is asking the customer for advice as to what should be done. That leads to a bad “Wow!” and it destroys trust in a heart beat.
Why is this the worst case scenario? Because it marks the time from which trust starts to downward spiral. The moment the customer gets to know that you are not sure of yourself and you seem to be grasping for answers is also when his suspicion is rising.
It is a totally human response. If something is uncertain and the predictable and expected outcome of the interaction is in question, guess what almost always will happen: The customer will scratch at the surface a little more and ask more questions and will do that more frequently. The more the uncertainties pile up, the worse this condition gets. Heaven forbid other people in your organization give different answers. Now the customer is really getting worried.
Do not let this happen to you. There are a couple of really important and easy to implement steps to get you out of the hot seat.
- React and respond expediently. Speed equals trust. Make sure that you are always the one who calls the customer first so they do not have to call you. You send the message that you are on the ball.
- Be firm and confident. Much like your smile can be seen at the other end of the telephone line, it is the same with confidence. What are you afraid of? They cannot pull you through the telephone if you do not have all the answers.
- It is ok not to know the answer. The way out of this is to always tell the customer what you do not yet know, but how and when you intend to get the answer.
- Tell the truth. No one can mess with the truth. Tell it how it is. Focus on gathering and dishing out “just the facts, Mam”. Have a plan handy how the financial side will need to work out.
- Stay calm and cool. Never get emotionally involved. You will lose – big time. Do not answer statements. Instead show compassion and genuine empathy. It is what you do and not who you are, so do not let it get to you.
- Tell them what you can and will do. Do not tell them what you will not be able to do or what you have not done yet and why. All the customer will hear while you are speaking to him sounds much like the Peanuts’ teacher.
- Deliver upon your commitments. Under promise and over deliver. Repeat at will and do so fast.
While I intentionally focused on the business aspects with this post, reflect on how much of it also applies to your social and love life. Consider this as a starting point for your own personal experience based pre-flight check list. I would love to hear from you, if you have some other favorite tactics how to inspire trust.