Trust is the most important ingredient for building customer loyalty. Without it, any relationship, whether personal or business, will not flourish. When trust is broken, customer loyalty is lost and rarely can be reincarnated.
Here are 5 tips for building trust in customer service:
- Active listening – When interacting with a customer, listening for and acknowledging their underlying emotion is a critical step in building trust. Listening communicates to the person that you are interested in learning why, for example, they are frustrated, excited, disappointed, concerned, etc. Hearing a customer’s words, translating them into an emotion, and then responding provides a strong foundation for building a long-lasting relationship.
- Sharing personal feelings – Let customers know your personal opinion if they ask. If an outfit doesn’t look good, a dish isn’t the best on the menu or you know the quality of an electronic gadget is suspect, communicate your thoughts. These are stepping stones for continual trust.
- Recommending competitors – Just as Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street recommended that a customer go to competitor’s store to find the perfect gift, make sure your representatives learn about similar products that might be a better fit for your customers. This ties in with the two tips above; your associate is listening and demonstrating compassion.
- Standing behind your products – When something goes wrong with one of your products do whatever necessary to quantify that your organization is quality driven and customer focused. “When the rubber hits the road,” make sure your company rises to the occasion.
- Following-through – Over the long run, following- through, following-up and keeping customers informed is the link in the chain of trust that can never be broken. When someone is told you will get back to them with a resolution or that you will let them know about an upcoming sale, or if the shirt they are looking for can be found in another location, promise a date and communicate before then, never after.
Aristotle said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I’m not sure that his words of wisdom apply to building trust; each ingredient must be present and reinforced with every customer encounter. Break one, trust is gone and creating long-term loyalty will certainly fail to ever develop.
Let me know if you have other tips for building trust that work. I trust there are many good ideas that can help us all.