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What do you think of when you hear the term “customer expectations”?

poinsetta tree

This tree exceeded my expectations. 🙂

Do you have all of your shopping done? How have your customer service interactions been? Rushed? Indifferent? Spectacular? Heartfelt? Or “D” all of the above?

We all are customers at some time or another. During the holiday season, we tend to find ourselves being more customer than at other times of the year. What you expect in customer service and product quality in the retail world are really the same things our internal and external customers expect of us in the business world. Two sides of the same coin.

When I use the term “customer expectations” what do you conjure up? What do those words mean to you? To me they relate to the following actions we need to focus on:

Deliver your commitments.
Trust is built on doing what you say you will do. Once trust is broken, it is very hard to recover. Keep track of what you say, regardless how small, and make sure you do it. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Keep it simple.

Trust is built on strong communications. Be clear, be concise, and be ready to listen. The customer should never feel they are an interruption when it comes to communication. There is no such thing as “over” communicating if you do it right. Remember the old saying, “Tell them, Tell them again, and then Tell them one more time.”

Be authentic.
Trust is built on believing in the service, the product, and the process that is being purchased. Honesty manages expectations. Telling the customer what they want to hear prevents you from delivering your commitment. Ensure your Yes, is yes and your No, is no. Anything else can get you off-track.

Understand and partner with your customer to meet their needs.
Trust is built on the customer knowing you are there to make them successful. They will have issues and so will you. Your job is to partner with them to find a way forward that is doable by both sides. Look for the mutually beneficial solution. It’s there.

When you come down to the bottom line, good customer service has a lot of trust built into the experience. Trust is a long term play. It is not something built over night. Trust breeds more business.

Be intentional,

How many “trust coins” are in your pocket?

SERVE: Earn Trust (second of a five part series)

"What's in your pocket?"

“What’s in your pocket?”

Trusting can be hard for some people. They could be naturally inclined to not trust. They may be in life situations where they see the worst and thus are void of trust. They might have trusted once only to have been deceived or betrayed. When you are working on “earning trust”, it is important to consider that each person has a different trust meter.

I am sure you have heard many sayings about trust… “Trust but verify” -unknown, “Love all, trust few, do wrong to none.” – Shakespeare, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” – Nietzsche. These all testify to our human nature’s lack of trust regarding “trust”. I think Hemingway got it right, though – “ The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them”.

Most people say “I, of course, am trust worthy. It is everyone else that fails to be trustworthy.” Hmmmm. Here lies the problem with that statement – if everyone thinks they are trust worthy, that means they do not believe they have ever broken a promise or done anything to break trust. Therefore, no one should have a reason to not trust the other person. So, why then do we SO distrust each other? I contend that half the problem of “earning trust” is answering this question.

Here are a few things to ponder in figuring out how to earn trust…

Manage your promises.
If broken promises lead to lack of trust, managing and tracking my promises becomes key to success in earning trust. This includes not promising things lightly. My yes is yes and no is no (trite but true). Most important, you have to remember you made the promise. It also means ensuring that there is strong communication on exactly what I am promising. Managing expectations goes a long way to earning trust.

Betray no one.
Lack of trust can come from a sense of betrayal. The obvious is “don’t betray people”. But none of us see ourselves as betrayers – so is there a less obvious action here? Yep – communication. More conversation, staying in touch through a situation, keeping people informed (from the horse’s mouth, so to speak). Many times “lack of hearing from you” is filled in with gossip, half-truths, and imaginations run amok.

Manage the importance.
What you see as non-consequential may be the utmost importance to the other person. Your words “I’ll call you” may have been polite conversation, with no intent on your part that you made a promise, much less an important one. The hearer of your comment took it to mean “you were calling them before the end of the day”. They waited by the phone all day and when you did not call, marked it up to a broken promise. Ensure your words are clear and manage how important your promise is to someone. For you to “earn trust”, you are earning it from someone else based on their ranking of the importance of the promise in question, not based on your ranking of importance.

Work ahead.
Go the extra mile. Everyone fails; no one is perfect. I heard once that trust was like coins in your pocket. When you keep promises, people give you coins. When you fail, you give them a coin. The goal is to always have coins in your pocket as “lack of trust” comes when your pockets are empty and you have no coins to give. Work ahead, go the extra mile and earn coins for the inevitable day you fail. Everyone does.

Maybe if we all work more on earning people’s trust rather than on judging each other, the world will become more trustworthy.

What do you think? Feel free to comment below. Let’s chat.