We meeting professionals juggle so much that we seem to have an infinite reservoir of memory storage space for all the people, situations and drama that come into our lives. Often this is good. Sometimes it can create challenges.
I have a pretty good memory. When I think of memory, I’m mindful that there are good memories and those that are not so good. In my case, I remember just about everything. Ofen, I’ll forget a name or meeting detail. That’s normal. But, what I don’t forget are those things that happen between people — the good, the bad and truthfully, the ugly!
I want to share a few thoughts about enhancing our customer and network loyalty or TRUST. Trust is a wonderful word, isn’t it? We put our trust in others. We leave our treasured pet with someone who cares for it. We leave our children, elderly parents or loved ones in the care of someone we trust. Trust is a big deal.
So how exactly do we build trust with others? How do we take steps to enhance our brand, worthiness and sense of professionalism with all those we touch? It’s really quite simple. We must try our best to do the right thing at all times.
If you were to ask me what one of my worst traits is, I would sadly have to share that I do not forget what people have said, done or how they’ve made me feel. Good or bad, I remember all of it. These memories form our character. Our past changes and adjusts how we are today and in our future. I believe what we need to do is think of the past and all we’ve had happen with others as a great opportunity. Know that information and situations that shape and mold us are an opportunity to be the better persons who we are today. You could say, “thank you to all those who have let us down in the past. They’ve made us better for tomorrow!”
Don’t think for a single moment that our actions go unnoticed. Every single thing we do, say, write or acknowledge is noticed.
Building Customer Trust is a good thing. But, we should strive to build trust with all those in our live; family, co-workers, volunteers and certainly customers. Trust comes from each and everything we do, what we say, how we write. Our eyes, smile or lack thereof and physical demeanor send clear message to all those around us. Even our social media presence – those Twitter tweets, the likes on Facebook and congratulatory messages on LinkedIn are part of our trustworthiness.
Here are a few easy management recommendations to keep your relationships with your customers and professional networks on a favorable track:
- Be aware that everything we do, say, write or comment on is noticed. Everything! Don’t think that our choice of shoes, when we send a thank you note, how often we check our devices while at a luncheon or how firm we shake a hand do not go unnoticed. Everything we do is noticed.
- Express thanks. Do not assume that your customers or professional contacts know that you appreciate them. Always end a communication or meeting with a thank you. A hand-written thank you card from time to time to express your gratitude for this professional relationship makes a deep impact. While tangible gifts are not necessary, the gift of a thank you goes a very long way. I recommend purchasing a selection of attractive thank you notes and use them with a fine black writing pen. Do not rush your thank you message. Rather, enjoy the opportunity to craft a personalized message of gratitude. The recipient will be impressed and remember your professional gesture.
- Be on Time. Respect your customer’s calendar. Arrive 10 minutes early for appointments prepared, with your files and slide deck in order. If you are busy, so is your customer. Have an agenda prepared whether or not you actually share it. Value the time taken for your scheduled appointment and manage it to the best of your ability.
- Follow Through and Keep Your Commitments. When you speak with your customer, carefully document your action items and deliverables. At the conclusion of the meeting, review actions and due dates. Send timely meeting minutes clearly listing what is to be done and by whom. If you commit to an action, do it and complete it early and certainly on time.
- Dress the Part. Your customer’s office may be casual but that does not mean that you should be. ALWAYS dress professionally.
- Manage your Social Media Postings. Just because you are on Facebook does not mean that each of your clients needs to be invited to join. If you go out and have a good time, does everyone you work with really need to know what you did over the weekend? Be careful what you post and how much information you share. I’ve unfriended more contacts because the items they post or their volume is simply over-the-top. Few people really care about your favorite breed of dog or movie review. Think “less is more” when it comes to how you use the many social media platforms.
- Respect Space. Not everyone wants a hug, a kiss or a comment about their diet success or hair style. Often, our inner ADHD comes out when we see people; we do and say things that we know better not to do. Simply keep in mind, don’t touch! And anything and everything about personal appearance is off limits.
- Don’t Cross the Line between Personal and Professional Topics. I’ve experienced supplier partners over the years who assumed that we were best friends once they earned my business. This is not the case. For me, it takes time to build trust and I certainly do not wish to share anything personal until that trust has been created. Trust takes time. Each of us feels comfortable at our own speed. Slow down and allow the relationship and trust-factor to develop over time. Respect your customers’ space and privacy, and allow them to create that safe-zone of taking the client relationship to that next level.
- Treat your customers’ dollars as if they were yours. Because I work for a large corporation, I’ve sensed from “vendors” that I have unlimited funds to spend. This is certainly not the case. I am always appreciative when my vendor partners treat my budgets with great respect and reverence. I can see and understand when a vendor partner treats my money or budget as if it were their own. When I experience this, my trust factor for that vendor is enormous.
- Stay current with your customer’s organization and its industry trends. Working in healthcare, I want my vendors to understand my industry — specifically pharma guidelines such as The Sunshine Act. My work-world is governed by a huge number of rules, policies and laws. It’s so helpful if my vendor partners continually educate themselves on this industry. I’m always impressed when they come to me with questions and share an eager interest in learning and enhancing their knowledge of this niche industry.
- Support your customers’ social responsibility platform. If your client supports the United Way or APLA, do consider supporting it too. It does not need to be a large charitable gift, just a gesture of financial or volunteer support to share your respect for their SRP activities.
Trust takes time. Each of us feels comfortable at our own speed. Slow down and allow the relationship and trust-factor to develop over time.
Trust takes time to earn. Relationships with a client or stakeholder can turn sour in a quick moment if we do not manage our actions, words and public image. Be smart and move wisely with your choices. Remember, we have one chance to get it right. Do it right the first time and watch yourself every step of the way. And, always remember – they are watching and hearing every single thing we do and say!