Does your customer trust you? I mean: does your customer really, really trust you? Do they pay your invoices not just on time--but without checking? Do they always sole-source you? Do they never push back on price? Were you invited to the CEO's daughter's wedding?
None of those questions necessarily indicate trust. But, if your customer really trusts you, then you will probably have some similarly extraordinary indication of that fact. If nothing extraordinary is happening--then maybe your customer doesn't really, really trust you.
Don't be embarrassed- extraordinary levels of trust are rare. You're not alone. But-wouldn't it be great if your customer did trust you like that?
What prevents that? Why don't they trust you? If we can identify the causes, the solutions will be clear.
Here are the Five Reasons your customer might not trust you.
1. They don't believe you. I don't mean they think you're flat-out lying. More likely, they just think you don't really know the answer. Or, you know most of the answer, but you're overstating your expertise. Or, you don't have the experience to justify what you are telling them. Or-especially-that you don't understand their situation enough to make a sensible recommendation.
There are a dozen reasons why they might not believe you. But they all result in not trusting you.
2. They think they can't depend on you. I don't mean they think you're a flake.It's much more benign. They might mean they had a bad experience once, and worry it might happen again. Maybe they had a bad experience once, and think you haven't apologized for it-and they can't understand why.
Maybe they mean your intentions are great, but they feel your procedures and processes aren't as good as your intentions. Of that they can depend on you, but not on the rest of the system. Or maybe they just think you don't fully understand what you are promising.
In any case, they're still not trusting you.
3. They don't feel safe with you. I don't mean they walk away when you're handling knives-I mean there's some information they don't share with you. Have you ever had a customer invite you into a decision process later than they should have? That's because they didn't feel safe sharing certain information with you. They felt you couldn't appreciate it, or understand it, or behave appropriately around it. So they just didn't invite you in.
They probably didn't even think about it. It just didn't occur to them to invite you in. Which means their lack of trust in you is unconscious. Whatever--they're still not trusting you.
4. They think you're too self-centered. Not that you are greedy, or evil. Just that your thoughts center around yourself--not around them. You may think you're always focused on them--but that doesn't mean they feel it. And if they don't feel it, they don't trust you.
5. They Think You're Holding Back. Not that you're keeping some dark secret from them-just that you don't seem forthcoming to them. And therefore, they are never sure what you are thinking, or what you keep hidden from them.
And if they don't know what you're sharing and what you're hiding, not only will they dream up the worst, they'll assume you have bad intentions. In any case, the movie still ends the same--they don't trust you.
Those Five Reasons amount to problems of credibility, reliability, intimacy, self-orientation, and authenticity. The fixes are equally clear, though not always easy:
- Tell the truth, and pretty much all of it, all the time.
- Say what you'll do, then do it; honor your word.
- Be super-sensitive to context; know how your customer feels about issues.
- Practice paying attention to others. Really, really listen. Just listen.
- Be yourself, and be open about who that is.
Then get ready for some extraordinary customer behaviors. That's what trust does.