As Bo Bennett once said; ‘For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth.’ What better reason is there than in business? Business relationships, just like personal ones, require trust as a fundamental principle. Without it, how can you be sure who you’re in bed with? – so to speak.
Trust itself is a complex principle, one that takes time and effort to attain. You have to be committed to the customer, to their needs, and to their concerns. They have to know that their information and their specific criteria are valued and prioritised.
Above is a diagram that we feel accurately represents trust and what it is comprised of in accordance with what customers expect from those they do business with.
Imagine that this diagram is your business. Trust is the overarching idea. It’s how your business markets itself and what its core value is, in the minds of both you and your employees. It is paramount and must never be forgotten, but it has to be earned. Everything beneath it connects to that key idea.
Directly beneath trust, we have two subheadings; Character and Competence. These are the two main departments of your business. Their work supports the core value of the business and keeps their employees on point and motivated so trust is maintained. Every department is the same size and every aspect is interconnected.
The Character side of the business is about the people in your business; your employees, the relationships they make and how they come across to the customers. They are the face and the voice of your organisation and therefore they are a huge part of creating trust with your clients. People buy from people and therefore your character is paramount. Customers hate dealing with machines and automated systems, and by speaking directly to a person, you can develop a rapport, as well as learn their idiosyncrasies and sense of humour.
Your intention as a business is very important to the customer. Intent is the department manager who leads a team comprised of Caring, Transparency and Openness. They keep the intention of the business transparent. If your business keeps itself open to customers about its ideas, processes and costs, then customers will trust you and be more willing to do business in the future. Allowing your business to be transparent shows that you care about customer satisfaction.
Integrity is also a big thing for modern businesses to have. Being able to maintain your values and not straying from your USPs and core values show consumers that you are consistent and that they will receive the same high level of service every time they come to you. Honesty, Fairness and Authenticity work under Integrity. They are pretty self-explanatory and very much linked together. If you are honest and fair, then you are an authentic business.
Under Competence, we have Capability and Results. This side of the business still upholds the core value of Trust but with more reference to the business side of the company. Capability is supported by Skills, Knowledge and Experience. How are customers supposed to trust a company who are ill-equipped to do the job? Employees should be well trained, confident and well-versed in all aspects of your business so that they can provide any knowledge and services that the customer may need.
Results are arguably the most important way to earning trust. Results are supported by Reputation, Credibility and Performance. Though areas such as Intent and Integrity initially establish trust with the client, if you don’t deliver the goods to the quality and time frame that the customers are expecting, then you risk your reputation and credibility. Your Performance is decided by your customers and not by you. No matter how well you think you have worked as a business, ultimately, the final say is with the client.
Business is about people and relationships
People need to be able to trust others. You cannot form strong, mutually beneficial relationships without first establishing trust. You can use this diagram to remind yourself that everything in your business is connected and that these are the key ideas that create, maintain and strengthen trust with your clients. If you link your business to these fundamental ideas, then soon your company will become synonymous with trust in the eyes of your clients.