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Building trust with clients

Management | October 1, 2008 | By:

Foster a sense of trust among your clients and earn their loyalty.

Why do you choose to do business with some companies and not others?

Research suggests that people rely on companies that have believable advertising, an image that suggests quality and reasonable price, the brands or types of items you prefer, friendly employees and so on. However, when we need a service performed, we tend to seek out people we trust.

Because of the intangible nature of event services, the element of trust tends to play a bigger role in the selection of providers than it might in other types of transactions. So how do event companies go about building an image of trustworthiness?

Be likable. Human nature makes it almost impossible for us to trust someone we don’t like. So, if you want people to trust you and your business,you must learn how to help people to like you. Among the more important ways to do that is developing the habit of making good eye contact during your conversations. Do you know someone who avoids looking you in the eye during conversations? If you do, you probably don’t trust that person.

Be believable. If you can’t believe someone, you can’t trust him or her. Believability, like trust itself, must be earned. In a service business, believability translates into one simple dictum: Never promise something you can’t deliver. Once you promise something, make certain to follow through on that promise. Sadly, too many business owners don’t realize that such simple statements as “I’ll call you back” or “We’ll be there on Tuesday morning” are promises. Any time you fail to deliver on such a promise, your believability suffers.

Be willing to listen. Let’s be honest: Very few of us are good listeners by nature. Most people do more talking than listening. That’s why we feel comfortable in the company of that rare person who is a good listener. Have you ever found yourself thinking more about what you want to say next than what the person who is speaking to you is saying? If you have that tendency, you are almost certainly not a good listener. Learning to listen well is difficult; it takes a great deal of self-discipline, but it’s worth the effort. We tend to trust people who are willing to take the time to listen to what we have to say.

Take a sincere interest. As we go about our daily activities, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of superficial contact with friends, family and customers. One of the most effective ways to develop and demonstrate sincere interest in your employees and customers is to take the time to find out something about them, and then follow through occasionally with questions that show you care.

Follow up. Few characteristics are as capable of building a level of trust as is a reputation for following up. If you say you’ll get information for someone, get it. If there has been a problem with a client, follow up on it until it is resolved. A reputation for poor follow-up can be a serious impediment to your service business.

As tough as it is to earn trust, it’s surprisingly easy to lose. Every time you stray from these basic principles, you chip away at the trust others have in you and in your business. Keep these simple characteristics at the forefront of the way you conduct business — and keep your customers coming back for more.

Bill Lynott is a freelance writer based in Abington, Pa.

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