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Trust: When Does Trust Actually Develop in a Business Relationship?

by Menzie Pittman • in
  • March 2019
  • Small Business Matters
• Created: March 14, 2019

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Most musicians would agree there is nothing more important to us than our hearing and, along those lines, I recently had my hearing checked. After all, I spent a great deal of my life sitting next to very loud sound sources and for prolonged periods of time. I also continue to be around high levels of sound exposure. Because I am a new resident in my town, I had to find a reputable professional: someone with whom I could trust my most important asset.

Step1: Search – If You Don’t Rank, You Don’t Exist

I did what everyone does when looking for professional help. First, I searched online. The doctor I chose had a strong 4.9 rating. However, I don’t purely rely on these online reviews, and while I do believe the comments help clarify and tell the story, personally I dismiss the extreme comments and outlier ratings. When someone trashes a business, but others give five-star ratings, I usually let my second and third experiences (the website and the phone call) guide my trust.

Step 2: Website Impact is Also Visual

The initial visual impact of a website doesn’t drive great search results, but it certainly tells you a great deal about the creativity and style of a business. When someone is researching your business, good web visuals can be your harbinger of trust. Even a popular business can suffer from two missteps: having a lackluster website and having an employee who has poor phone skills when answering the phone. Either of these has the potential to increase the chance of losing a customer for a lifetime. However, I personally make my decision to trust a business based on Step Three!

Step 3: A Helpful and Enjoyable Phone Demeanor Builds Customer Trust

Phone skills are an art form. If someone has a pleasant demeanor on the phone, trust-rating skyrockets. On the other hand, if someone is curt or inapproachable, that can be a deterrent for a potential customer. When a business employee answers the phone, he or she has no idea who is on the other end of the phone. One simple suggestion to safeguard phone decorum and to guarantee the potential for trust is to act as if the caller is your mom or dad checking in on you. Be respectable, affable, and compliant. The receptionist at the hearing specialist’s office might as well have been a voiceover professional. She closed the deal, but when I reached Step Four, it was then that I knew I had met my match in the battle for winning trust.

Step 4: A Pleasant Waiting Area Makes Customers Feel Welcome

The impact of a clean facility is paramount when attempting to earn a customer’s trust. In my case, I walked into an immaculate waiting area and I was greeted by name. When the receptionist handed me the insurance forms to complete, they were pre-filled as much as possible, leaving me little to do but review. There was a table with chocolates, cookies, water, tea, and coffee. However, this business won the trust battle the moment the receptionist acknowledged she knew about my business. “It’s nice to have a Dealer of the Year as a client.” With that statement, I was sold. I believe the quote from the movie “Jerry McGuire” is, “You had me at hello.”

Step 5: Professionals That Know Their Craft Always Seal the Trust Deal

Trust is a two-way street in business. When I finally met the ear specialist and business owner, I was just as impressed with her as I was with her staff. She took her time to inquire about me. The funniest moment, though, came when she asked me to describe how I heard sounds in her room. I think what she meant was, “Do multiple sounds in a room bother you?” Nevertheless, I answered her literally and described the areas and walls in her office with slap-back problems and obnoxious sound reflections, explaining that drywall and hard surfaces are not your friend. To say the least, she knew her craft inside and out, and we shared a good laugh, which built her trust in me.

Step 6: A Welcome Gift Bag When You Leave is a Good Thing

Courtesy builds trust and many businesses give gift bags to first-time customers. This audiologist filled her company’s bag with chocolates in a coffee cup, informational pamphlets about hearing problems, pens inscribed with the business phone number, a refrigerator magnet with contact information, and another pamphlet advertising a product sold there.

Step 7: An After-the-visit Follow-up Always Builds Trust

The day after my visit to this hearing specialist, I received a text from the practice inquiring if I had any additional questions or concerns. The text also included a link, so if I elected to give the practice a starred review, I had the opportunity. As you can imagine, I happily gave this office an honest five-star rating. This business had earned every star, and I wanted people to know I trust this business.

Step 8: A Thank-you Card in the Mail Can Add to Trust, Too

Taking the time to write a thank you card to a first-time customer is a great close. Although the practice realizes I won’t return for a year, the assumption is I will share my experience with and first impressions of the practice. Since I am in the listing business, of course, I will endorse and support this group based on the quality of service it delivered to me as a first-time client. With each step (the website, the phone call, the actual professional experience, the follow-up), I began to realize the vision and mission of this practice. The group cares for every patient with equal devotion. Their ultimate return is trust.

In Closing

The answer to the initial question, “When does trust develop in a business relationship?” is simple. It develops as a reflection of everything you do in your organization. What you do every moment of every day is the mirror of your organization. Building trust is one step at a time, and it’s “every step you take… every move you make.” Kinda reminds you of a song by The Police. How fitting. After all, who doesn’t trust Sting?!


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