By Jenna Cyprus
In a business world where individuals are used to being treated as just another number, there isn’t always a lot of trust between brands and consumers. But if you want to establish a successful service business, trust is one foundational building block you can’t forget about.
Trust in the Service Industry
“In business, trust is the glue that binds employees to employers, customers to companies – and companies to their suppliers, regulators, government and partners. Yet several years on from the financial crisis and ensuing recession, efforts to rebuild trust are still ongoing,” Eduardo Leite writes for World Economic Forum.
A lack of trust in a product company is one thing. The absence of trust in a service business is something else entirely. Service businesses demand the cultivation of trust within the customer base and a failure to do so will ultimately lead to failure on multiple levels.
Trust helps customers feel safe interacting with your brand. It gives your marketing statements more power and your pricing greater validity. It’s the fiber that binds everything together.
4 Tips for Establishing Trust
Once you understand the significance of trust, you can take great strides in establishing trust. Here are a few practical suggestions gathered from companies and figures who are currently excelling in this area:
1. Tell the Truth
The first tip is the simplest and most straightforward. If you want to build trust with your customers, you need to tell the truth. Lying, misleading, and deceiving may seem like the smartest or easiest choice – especially when you know you won’t get caught – but they ultimately erode trust and hurt your ability to practice transparency in other key situations.
Telling the truth often creates some short-term side effects that are less than desirable, but they compound to produce sustainable long-term benefits that bolster your brand’s image in the eyes of your customers.
2. Follow Through
It’s easy to make a promise or claim. It’s much more difficult to follow up your words with actions. But when you study successful businesses in the service industry, they tend to possess stellar follow-through. Legends Garage Door in Phoenix, Arizona is a great example.
“We’ve always believed that building trust is as simple as saying you’re going to do something and then following through and actually doing it,” says [insert brand rep], [insert position/title] of Legends Garage Door. “When we install or repair garage doors for our clients, we provide quality work and then back up our work should anything go wrong.”
Follow-through isn’t always easy, comfortable, or convenient, but it has a significant impact on your brand in the long run. Make a commitment of following words with actions and your customers will be much more likely to place their trust in you.
3. Prioritize Customer Privacy
We live in a world where customers are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that the businesses they interact with track, record, and use their personal information. While it’s fine for you to legally use customer data, make sure your customers know that you’re prioritizing their privacy.
Customers recognize that you have their data and need to use it in order to make strategic business decisions, but they don’t want you sharing that data with third party companies. They need to know that it’s safe, secure, and relatively confidential.
4. Use Common Sense
“Common sense and respectful service must prevail over contractual fine print and computer algorithms. A service company’s most precious asset is the customer’s trust that it can and will perform the promised service,” Leonard Berry writes for Harvard Business Review. “Breaking the service promise means breaking the customer’s trust.”
There’s a time and place for sticking to your guns and using fine print and rules to protect yourself, but don’t use them to cover up key information or disguise questionable business tactics. Use common sense and treat customers like you’d want to be treated.
Get Your Priorities Straight
In the service industry, business owners and entrepreneurs often get things wrong. Their primary focus is on making money and they (wrongly) assume that trust will follow. However, the reality is that you build trust and the revenue comes later. Get your priorities straight and you’ll be much more effective in building a sustainable service business in a competitive industry.
Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer from Renton, WA who is particularly interested in travel, nature, and parenting. Follow her on Twitter.