As conflict adviser and ombuds to businesses, I talk a lot about the importance of building trust in an organizational culture, within teams, and among team members. Trust is the key ingredient in client relationships as well.
Behavioral studies and stats show that we consumers base most of our buying decisions and loyalty to a company/brand on trust.
Here’s the juicy truth about trust: Contrary to the assumptions most of us make, developing our level of trust is NOT a singular exercise. Instead, we’ve found that there are differences in the way we each formulate our trust for others. In other words, we don’t all trust or distrust for the same reasons. And, trust-building takes time and attention.
How, then, do we develop that relationship of trust when we start working with a new client? Here is what a panel of Forbes Coaches Council members (including yours truly) has to offer in a nutshell; the full article is a worthy read.
1. Get To Know Their Personalities. Knowing the person you are dealing with on a personal level helps you to decide when to turn up the heat or choose to put the issue on the front or back burner.
2. Truly Listen To Their Perspective. It is critical to listen emphatically – to hear not just the words spoken, but seek to understand the emotional drivers.
3. Remind Them Of Their Own Goals. Make suggestions of activities to do, tying these actions to the path needed to achieve the goal they want to accomplish.
4. Be Consistent. Consistently demonstrate your ongoing commitment to their highest good. Don't say one thing and do another.
5. Frame Your Suggestions In The Context Of Your Client's Existing Values. Provide feedback in the context of what the client values and believes about themselves, their company or their team.
6. Never Make Negative Assumptions. Ask with curiosity and openness to better understand why they act as they do.
7. Prove That You Understand And Support Their Point Of View. Agree first, persuade later.
8. Take The Time For In-Person Interactions. Many times business these days is done without meeting face-to-face, but those in-person interactions are very valuable.
9. Address Both Logic And Emotion. Judicious explanations address concerns and assuage fears.
10. Acknowledge And Validate Their Concerns. To build trust with someone who is pushing back, acknowledge and validate them. Acknowledge the emotion you think they're feeling.
11. Ensure You're Both Following The Same Definition Of 'Trust.’ Having a common language and understanding of exactly what trust is made of, is critical.
#11 is my contribution, and I encourage you to explore that understanding and “language.” You’ll find a good introduction of how to go about it here. This article is geared toward the workplace and team situation, but it holds true in all aspects of how you do business - and, after all, it’s ALL about the client, right?
When you start with your own education and practice of trust — what it is and how it works—and integrate it into your organizational culture, you’ll naturally be better equipped to practice these wise tips and build those clients relationships that are deeper, more effective, and that bring greater returns.