If I’ve learned one thing from years of chamber leadership, it’s this. People do business with people they like and trust.
We throw thousands of dollars at marketing efforts to get our businesses known, but at the end of the day, positive word of mouth brings success. That’s why people network at chamber events, building trusted relationships and referrals. That’s why a grateful client will always beat an ad on a bus bench.
When they trust you, the word spreads.
Who did you use to build your deck? Do you know a good roofing company that won’t rip me off? What’s the restaurant you went to that you liked so much? How are you liking that hybrid vehicle?
The topic of trust-building was on the minds of attendees at a chamber conference I attended last month. Justin Patton, author of Your Road to Yes!, reminded us that “trust is your greatest competitive advantage.”
As a Parker business owner or professional, think about how you build trust with your customers and clients.
Do what you said you would do. If you said you were going to do the thing on Monday, then do the thing on Monday. If you’re consistently having to apologize and reschedule the thing, then you need to stop over-promising and start setting honest expectations. Do what you have to do so that you deliver service when you said you would, and in a quality manner.
Constantly solicit feedback and improvement. Most people don’t expect perfection, but they appreciate your highest-quality effort and your willingness to do a job right. If you’ve dealt with them honestly, they will give you valuable feedback that helps you improve. Get better wherever and whenever you can.
Listen, and show empathy. We appreciate when people take time to listen to our challenges, our worries, and our goals. Don’t begin an interaction assuming you already know what others need. Ask smart questions that encourage them to share. “Listen to understand,” Patton says.
Communicate with transparency. Tell the truth, explain your plan, and let your customer know how they can partner with you to get the best result. A valuable service experience never includes pricey or inconvenient surprises.
Offer safety. In nearly every transaction, there is a degree of fear. “What if this person takes advantage of me?” or “What if it doesn’t turn out to be what I wanted?” Let your customer be part of the process. Check in regularly. Commit to quality control throughout the process. Make your investment in their happiness very personal. Guarantee satisfaction on those things you can decisively control.
Show up at your best. Have you ever dealt with someone who dumped their lousy mood on you? An airline employee who really needed a good nap or a day off? A store clerk who couldn’t even make eye contact? Taking care of yourself – physically, mentally, and emotionally – helps you serve others better. If you’re not showing up at your best for your clients lately, figure out why and fix it.
T.J. Sullivan is the CEO of the Parker Chamber of Commerce. Find him on Instagram at @ParkerChamberCEO