Maintaining business trust is more than a Boy Scout ideal applied to the corporate world. It’s everything really. First and foremost, businesses can’t function with a product or service they don’t trust to work. When you think about it, maintaining business trust is the very foundation of customer experience. Heck, take a look at the relationships in your personal life. … What’s it like being in a relationship that lacks trust? To put in simply, it’s riddled with anxiety and misalignment. Back to business. Trust is the price of entry, pure and simple, especially in a world where your customers depend on mission-critical spare parts to arrive as expected. Whether you offer the best product at the best value doesn’t matter if your customers can’t trust you to do what you say you’ll do.Trust enables businesses to do business; it’s a function of efficiency, a mitigator of risk, and a basis for peace of mind that enables companies to let go of worrisome details like fulfilling service level agreements or trade compliance changes. So when old Nietzsche says he’s upset that he can’t believe, maybe what he’s really saying is “when you betrayed my trust, you made my job harder because now I have to worry about keeping it.”
Maintaining Business Trust is a Valuable Asset
Customers around the world rely on tech companies to help them keep servers up and running, databases online, hard drives storing data and telecommunications networks connected. They need to trust. But maintaining business trust benefits tech companies too, by fostering efficiency and profitability that is reflected on the bottom line of the balance sheet. In The Speed of Trust, author Stephen M.R. Covey writes, “Trust is hard, real, quantifiable. It measurably affects both the speed and cost of a relationship.” He goes on to say that when trust is present, the cost to manage a relationship decreases while the speed or rate at which things are accomplished through the relationship accelerates. Trusting relationships are also financially rewarding relationships.
Trust is Slow to Build, Hard to Keep and Easy to Ruin
Brand loyalty is big in business. You build it by establishing trust at every turn and in doing so, you tie every facet of your business into creating and nurturing a satisfying customer experience. It can take time, but the bond and relationships it creates brings big benefits from repeat business and more.
However, like any relationship, breakups can be ugly. Consumers in any business are merciless when brands betray them. More than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service, and 33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service, according to the American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer.
Loss of Trust Can Cost in Ways You May Not Have Imagined
- Even when you fix the problem, you can lose. In an all-hands-on-deck situation, where all resources are drawn to solving one client’s emergency, other clients and other business units suffer. Important tasks can fall through the cracks, and ironically maintaining business trust can be tested in other client relationships.
- Scrambling to save a relationship drains resources. When companies recover from a service failure by shifting the big guns to the offended party to show extra love, there’s an opportunity cost. Long-term or medium-term business activities like R&D and market development get put on hold, directly effecting future success.
- Losing references weakens sales efforts considerably. In B2B, 84% of business decision makers start the buying process with a referral, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. In industry verticals where contracts are negotiated for millions of dollars, referrals have significant value and you can’t afford to lose a single one.
- You’ll likely pay penance for your mistakes. Making customers happy and winning back some of the relationship you lost may mean trimming away some of your margin or giving something away. In these cases losing trust translates directly to losing money.
- Making a big deal over little things to prove yourself strains resources. In their eagerness to demonstrate change and score points, companies often escalate over small cases they might not have escalated otherwise. In the immediate term, that costs the company more time and money. Over the long term, it can create a burdensome new standard of expectations that you have to meet while maintaining business trust.
- Declining trust levels sap a brand’s value. What brands stand for, their “promise,” is undermined when companies fail to live up to customers’ expectations and they lose faith. A study by Millward Brown links brand promise to overall brand strength and company value. For proof, just look at United Airlines: their 2017 customer experience debacle resulted in $1.4 billion in value being wiped out in hours.
- Losing trust is a sure way to lose competitive advantage. When it comes to making a purchase, Trust is a key component, especially when you’re selling to companies in fields like banking, healthcare and finance. A recent blog post by Deloitte & Touche LLP stated, “In a fiercely competitive business environment, companies rely on the strength of their brands and the promises they present.”
- Social media can make meat out of you. Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience according to the American Express 2017 Service Barometer. And social media makes it that much easier. If you’re in an industry with a few small players, any slip-up in maintaining business trust will be breaking news in no time.
Maintaining Business Trust: From Outset to Last Mile
Customers today take every aspect of your brand and every interaction as part of the customer experience. Every little thing from the professionalism of your emails to the voice of your customer service reps contributes to their overall impression — and any breach of trust, even from a service provided by a third-party partner reflects on your brand. That requires consistency at every level and touchpoint — even your outside contractors have to understand they are representing your brand. It requires end-to-end commitment to your brand and its promise. And to do that your global supply chain has to answer the call of the customer around the world without compromise.
It’s How You Recover and Maintain Business Trust that Matters
No one can bat a thousand in today’s world. With all the high-tech products being bought and sold around the world, mission-critical equipment breaks in the field every day. And every company’s worst technology nightmare is happening to someone somewhere in the world every minute of every day. The important thing for manufacturers is having a plan in place to solve customers’ problems and deliver on service level agreements. That involves having a well-oiled service supply chain in place with in-region presence and local expertise. It’s no easy feat, but customers around the world expect nothing less. In this regard, consumers and businesses are all alike: they want seamless service, and no excuses about things like transit time, compliance issues or customs delays.
Look Beyond Your Product to Find Answers
Companies often make the mistake of focusing all their attention on making sure their products fulfill customer expectations — at the expense of service aspects that can make or break a customer experience, and ultimately a company’s success. In today’s customer service 4.0 world, it all comes down to that last mile and delivering the product or repair service on time.
In the end, here’s what customers remember: Did you deliver the way you said you would? So why would you take a chance of breaking the trust in that last act and tarnishing your brand? In a crisis, details matter all the way to the end. The fact is, if you do everything flawlessly and fail in the last mile, you fail.
Learn more about the cost of loss in crises by requesting our recent white paper here. Or fill out the contact for below to be connected with a Flash Global expert who can explain how we help keep the world’s digital infrastructure up and running while helping customers build and maintain trusting relationships with their clients.