You can probably sense when a person doesn’t trust you. Maybe they leave out information about themselves. Or they question everything you tell them.
Building trust is tough enough on your team. When it comes to clients, it can seem downright impossible.
New clients are especially prone to skepticism. You have yet to prove yourself to them, so why should they trust you?
It’s a fair point, but don’t panic. Don’t resort to toxic positivity, which can actually push people away.
Although it’s important to build trust naturally, there are things you can do to speed up the process. Here’s what you can do:
1. Lead with ethics and values.
Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer shows that trust in businesses boils down to two things: ethics and competence. Although you can’t show your skills until you’ve done business together, you can speak to your ethics.
The way to do that is to make your values clear. Any business would promote values related to competence, such as discipline. Go further by pointing out actions you’ve taken to support social causes, sustainability practices, or other humanitarian work.
When people know what you stand for, they’re more inclined to trust you. From there, you can prove you have the other part of the equation: competence.
2. Know your clients.
Knowing your clients may seem like a given, but you can’t make assumptions. If you assume your clients are young people, you’re likely to turn off seniors who use your service.
Without a sense of the demographic and psychographic categories your customers fall into, you’ll struggle to provide a strong customer experience. Build avatars with the following attributes:
- Average age
- Gender breakdown
- Race and ethnicity
- Geographic location
- Income level
- Educational attainment
- Hobbies and interests
- Values and concerns
Knowing these things can help you master your branding. But more importantly, it helps you make every relationship more personal and, as a result, trusting.
3. Be genuine.
One of the simplest ways to build trust is to be authentic. If you put up a front, your customers will see right through it.
Genuineness isn’t something you can teach. And it can be tough to be genuine when you’re overthinking it. Simply put your best foot forward, and don’t try to hide anything.
4. Be confident.
If you communicate to clients exactly what you can do for them with confidence, they’ll give you a shot. The reason is, confidence is contagious. If you believe in your business, then so will your customers.
Confidence should be tempered by realistic expectations. If you’ll say anything to get clients in the door, then they’ll soon see your confidence is a facade.
Being real but confident with customers is a matter of knowing the ins and outs of what your company can do. If you promise them something you can’t deliver, they won’t stick around after you fail. If you under-promise, they won’t be impressed. Get it just right, and they’ll receive exactly what they expected — which shows you’re true to your word.
5. Communicate transparently.
It’s no secret that transparency is key to building trust. So when communicating with customers, give them both the pros and cons of your service.
Say you’re a boutique ad agency. You might be able to secure placements nobody else can — at a premium price. Be honest about both pieces of the puzzle.
If you only emphasize your pros, clients will assume your promises are too good to be true. In fact, they’ll respect you for sharing the cons. Think about them as opportunities for growth.
Once you’ve given customers the skinny, step back. Tell them what they need to know, and leave the nitty-gritty details for later in the relationship. It’s all about balance.
6. Emphasize security.
Sometimes, a client will need to share sensitive information with you. If there’s any question about whether that information will fall into the wrong hands, that customer won’t be keen on working with you.
Always acknowledge that clients’ security and privacy is critical. Explain upfront how you’ll use their information: Will it be passed to the marketing team? How will it be stored? What recourse does the customer have if it’s disclosed?
Operate with integrity. Don’t ask customers to sign things they haven’t read. Walk through the highlights, leave plenty of time for questions, and be patient if the customer isn’t ready to move forward.
Trust is the foundation of business. The sooner you can build it with a new client, the better. And if you can maintain it, they’ll be loyal to you for years to come.