Can you be trusted?
The vital importance of trust in a small business
In the future of a general election campaign, one word we hear time and time again is ‘trust’.
Quite rightly, people want to be able to trust politicians. We want to know that the promises they make to voters will be followed through.
If we discover something was said was just to get another cross in the box on polling day, we lose trust. That could mean we don’t vote for that party next time or it could mean we don’t vote at all.
And it doesn’t matter if people are only dishonest over little things, we can still mistrust.
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Albert Einstein said that and he was pretty smart.
So, trust is important. You can lose it easily and it can be difficult to get back.
The business world isn’t immune
It’s not just in politics that trust is important.
In the world of business, consumers are looking for brands they can trust too. They are far less forgiving than they used to be and expect businesses to play by the same rules as everyone else.
Do small businesses need to answer the same questions as the big brands though? If trust is so important in business how can business owners give consumers what they need?
Do your customers trust you and if not, will they ever learn to trust you again?
Trust is important for everyone
Whether you run Nike, Tesco or the local dance school, trust is important.
When people spend their money with you, they’re placing trust in you and your business. If that trust is lost, the customer is likely to be lost and you may find you lose others as a result.
It’s difficult to say exactly what trust is, as it may differ for all of us. When trust is lost though, we know. Trust allows us to feel safe, secure and confident and enables us to work together with a shared goal.
If trust is lost in personal relationships with family and friends, people are much more likely to work hard to rebuild it. If trust is lost in a customer to business relationship, people are most likely to just move on.
How to build consumer confidence in your business
There are qualities that you as a business can aim to achieve which will help to position you as trustworthy.
Be reliable and dependable
If you say that you are going to deliver a bouquet of flowers to a customer on a certain day, make sure it’s delivered when you promised. If you fulfil your commitments, trust will build.
Businesses can be wary of this.
They don’t want people to see what goes on behind the scenes but the truth is that people are wary of what they don’t understand. If there are whispers of something untoward going on, better to be honest and tell staff and customers what you can. This might be as simple and updating a customer on their refund if it is taking longer than you had originally said. If they know you are doing everything you can and you’ve explained why it’s taking a long time, levels of trust will increase.
If you are unable to do your job properly, it will cause mistrust. A financial adviser who advises his clients poorly, for example, will not be trusted. Similarly, a local restaurant which is unable to provide a meal in a hygienic and safe environment is not going to gain the trust of the local community.
Be sincere and authentic
Trust can be eroded if leaders of business say one thing but do another. If you tell a customer that you understand why they’re upset but ignore their continued complaint, you’re not going to be trusted in the future.
If the local hairdresser claims to be a friendly and inviting environment but then has rude staff, the messaging is insincere.
If a local business makes a claim about being environmentally responsible, it has to back that up. Imagine if your customers found out that you didn’t recycle any of your rubbish or the packaging from your products.
You might find that they look to your competitors instead.
You may only have a few employees but make sure that you treat everyone equally.
People like to buy from a business that appreciates its staff. If your leaders behave one way and treat everyone else like they don’t matter, you’re harbouring mistrust. Your staff will lose trust in your leadership and your customers will lose trust in you as a business.
Admit when things go wrong
Everyone and every business make mistakes from time to time.
We’re human after all.
Opening up to people when things go wrong makes you more trustworthy. It makes you more like them and you become someone they are more likely to trust. If you are the sort of person who has a problem saying sorry, get practicing for when things go wrong.
If you’ve been brave enough to hold your hands up and admit errors, people are more confident that you won’t hold other things back. It doesn’t mean people won’t be proved wrong but it’s a good start.
Restoring trust once it’s lost
When things go wrong, it can be really difficult to face the music.
We are inclined to hide and try to move on. The thing is, if you want to restore people’s trust in your business, you’re going to need to be brave.
Confronting people about why they no longer feel the same about your business and getting to the bottom of the problem is essential. It’s not a pleasant task because as humans we tend to take things personally and we can find it difficult to listen to criticism.
However, if you let yourself be vulnerable and listen, it can lead to greater trust and ultimately a restoring of trust.
Always remember that trust is an on-going exchange. We work hard to gain trust and if we lose it, we can regain it again if we work hard enough.
Come and pay us a visit
We strongly believe that professional relationships need to be based on mutual trust, mutual support, mutual respect and mutual integrity.