There are many companies that claim to be good at building consumer psychology, influence, and trust. Also about caring what customers are left with after they’ve done it? Much less that truly earn that reputation … Walt Disney, Zappos, Dell, Amazon, just to name a few that we follow and study.
Check out our thoughts on customer focus.
Customers don’t care what you do. They only care what they’re left with after you’ve done it.
Ask company executives of most companies if customers find their business trustworthy, and most will, of course, say yes. But ask their clients, and often you will hear a different answer.
Before we continue, let me ask you a question.
What works best for gaining customer insights in your business? We would love to hear what it was. Would you do us a favor and post it in the comments section below? Be the one who starts a conversation.
With the advent of the Internet, the number of marketing options available to both budding and experienced entrepreneurs has become staggering.
In our book, the customer is the priority without hesitation. Why? Because gaining the confidence of your clients builds relationships and building relationships with your clients gain their trust. Customers select businesses most often through their faith in the firm and its people.
The need for a trust-based relationship can’t be denied. But marketing executives who want to build customer trust have one question: How?
Before we discuss the answer, let me tell you a story of a business near me in upstate New York.
A landscape gardener ran a business that had been in the family for two or three generations. The staff was happy, and customers loved to visit the store, or to have the staff work on their gardens or make deliveries – anything from bedding plants to ride-on mowers.
For as long as anyone could remember, the current owner and previous generations of owners were extremely positive happy people.
Most folks assumed it was because they ran a successful business.
In fact, it was the other way around…
A tradition in the business was that the owner always wore a big lapel badge, saying Business Is Great!
The business was indeed generally great, although it went through tough times like any other. What never changed, however, was the owner’s attitude, and the badge saying Business Is Great!
Everyone who saw the button for the first time invariably asked, “What’s so great about business?” Sometimes people would also comment that their own business was miserable, or even that they were unhappy or stressed.
Consumer psychology … influence and trust
Anyhow, the Business Is Great! Badge always tended to start a conversation, which typically involved the owner talking about lots of positive aspects of business and work, for example:
- the pleasure of meeting and talking with different people every day
- the reward that comes from helping staff take on new challenges and experiences
- the fun and laughter in a relaxed and healthy work environment
- the fascination in work itself, and in the other people’s work and businesses
- the great feeling when you finish a job and do it to the best of your capabilities
- the new things you learn every day – even without looking to do so
- and the thought that everyone in business is blessed – because there are many millions of people who would swap their situation to have the same opportunities of doing a productive, meaningful job, in a well-fed civilized country, where we have no real worries.
And so the list went on. And no matter how miserable a person was, they’d usually end up feeling a lot happier after just a couple of minutes listening to all this infectious enthusiasm and positivity.
It is impossible to quantify or measure attitude like this, but to one extent or another it’s probably a self-fulfilling prophecy, at which point if asked about the badge in a quiet moment, the business owner would confide:
The button came first. The great business followed. And that my friends are the best social marketing strategy that I know of.
So with this story in mind, let’s highlight six enablers of trust within employee intent and competence that can be operationalized without great difficulty:
Consumer psychology examples … employee intent
Empathy, transparency, and accountability are three enablers of employee intent. Having compassion for clients, and treating them the way you would want to be treated, is one of the most important elements of goodwill. Empathy requires firms to proactively anticipate customer needs and reach out to them to offer relevant products and services, even if it means losing money in the short term.
One way to operationalize empathy is to communicate all the best options to customers without being asked. It is always good to empower employees to take such actions. For example, customer care from a cable provider may mean adjusting a customer’s rate plan to a new scheme that best suits their needs and is $20 cheaper. This may mean losing $120 in the short term. But it can lead to the customer renewing or keeping his contract.
Transparency meanwhile sounds simple enough, but can in practice be difficult. Some firms equate transparency with giving up control. That’s simply not the case. It can come down to simple activities like clarifying the language of your policies, actively using external social media channels to communicate with customers and being open to feedback and criticism from customers.
And accountability is about taking responsibility when customers go through any negative experiences. This may involve compensating customers for the inconvenience and correcting any mistakes even at increased costs.
Customer retention … employee competence
We consider that employee competence is made up of the customer experience, employee empowerment, and employee recognition. Customer experience is about being consistent and credible to clients. It goes beyond delivering high-quality products and services and involves building relationships with clients that will encourage positive word-of-mouth and referrals.
As an example, for a telecom operator whose has received significant amounts of calls due to network issues, this might mean sending a simple text message to customers who experience dropped calls with an offer of free minutes or other credits as compensation. Or it could also mean letting customers know that the operator is aware of the network problem and is proactively working to resolve it.
Employee empowerment requires firms to train and authorize employees to take necessary actions to earn customer’s trust. Recognition requires businesses to reward employees for their confidence building initiatives with customers. We always recommend everyone sharing small victories on this front as a way of self- instruction among employees.
Building customer influence and trust is not a simple action. It takes consistent effort by the employees on all these enablers. Over time. It requires fact-based analysis of customers and their needs, understanding the firm’s competitive position, and performing in-depth capability assessment.
But trust-based initiatives such as these have real business impact. Trust makes customers less price sensitive and less interested in competitive offers. It creates a sustainable competitive advantage by directly lead to the acquisition, retention, and growth of the firm’s customer base. They have high payoffs.
What about you … who are your good examples of the best companies that are strong influence and trust builders?
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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