Look outside your industry for ways to build trust

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Sometimes you can look outside your industry for ways to set a professional standard and build trust. For example, I use a professional driver whenever I need to get to the airport. It is not part of any of the popular ridesharing services. I call him first because he always provides exceptional service and a better passenger experience than I can get anywhere else. His car is immaculate and he always wears a suit and tie, even at 5 a.m. He is exceptionally polite and always arrives a few minutes early. Simply put: he has a higher standard than other taxi drivers and services, and it shows.

Successful organizations also know that it matters. You’re here does not require customers to visit a dealership for repairs. Tesla meets with them at their home and performs vehicle repairs and upgrades there. Zappos personally responds to every customer email. During the holidays, Wolferman’s Online Baked Goods sends apology letters to people on your gift list if they know the shipment will arrive late. These companies aren’t using COVID, supply chain disruptions, or labor shortages as an excuse for poor customer service.

When my family and I return home from an international flight, my favorite driver is always waiting at the door with a sign with our name on it. It makes me feel important and shows how much he appreciates my company.

Whether it’s transportation or professional services, you always want to show up on time, if not early. You always want to dress professionally. You always want to come full circle and make your client (or client) feel important.

Before you say, “Oh, I don’t have time to do this for every one of our clients,” consider this: your hourly rate is probably much higher than my driver’s rate. If he can set a high professional standard, why can’t you?

Our clients know that if they have a phone appointment with me at 9:30 a.m., their phone will ring at 9:30 a.m. sharp. Not a minute earlier, not a minute later. Customers always tell me how surprised they are when I call right on time — all the time. While it’s nice to get positive feedback from your customers, I’m amazed that they’re amazed by such a small gesture of etiquette and punctuality. It just shows you how high the bar has been set these days.

Three Simple Strategies to Build Customer Trust

1. Show up on time. Always call your client at the exact scheduled time. Not three minutes early and certainly not 10 minutes late. It shows that you value their time and that you are a well-organized professional. We all have busy schedules these days and not enough staff to help us. Sorry, that’s no excuse for being late. Give yourself a bigger cushion between appointments to have time. This will significantly reduce your stress level and you will score big points with your customers. They will notice that you are always on time. Being chronically late reflects badly on you and your business, and means you need to improve your time management and priorities.

2. Dress professionally. I know we all want to be comfortable in this hybrid time and working from home. But suppose someone at your company is wearing flip-flops and sweatpants in the office one day when one of your best clients is dropping off some important paperwork. How do you think this reflects on you and your business? Not well, I’m sure. Everyone in your office should always dress as if someone’s best client is coming into the office on any given day. Most often they are.

3. Make your customers feel welcome and important. When you know your best clients are coming to your office, make them feel important. Have a TV or iPad in the lobby that says “Welcome [Name of client]” on the screen. It takes 15 seconds, but your customers will feel valued. Not all of the ideas I shared with you came from a professional seminar I attended. They came from my driver of favorite airport. Look outside your industry; whether it’s a waiter going above and beyond or a driver trying to make your trip to the airport less stressful and more enjoyable, there are many examples of people doing a great job serving their clients and customers, read more in my recent article Find your customer’s key lime pie.

To paraphrase bestselling novelist Kurt Vonnegut: Notice the little things, “because one day you’ll look back and realize those were the big things.

Whether it be call your best customers on their birthday or send a free courier to them to collect important documents, these small gestures show that you care about your customers and will separate you from the pack. If you think of a better way to build customer trust, I like to hear of you.

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