”The glue that holds all relationships together — including the relationship between the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” –Brian Tracy
Trust is funny. It’s one of those things you can’t ever get back once its lost. It doesn’t matter how much you sweet talk me, how pretty the flowers are that you send, how sad you look or how remorseful you pretend to be. Once you show me that you can be bought, lured or that you’re too stupid to know how to protect me, I’m gone. And you’ll never get me back.
The same goes for your brand.
I don’t think I’m all that unique when I say that the moment I have to question you, we’re done. If I have to question your ethics, why you’re recommending that product or whether or not I can trust you with this information, we’re already headed for divorce. Because my word is bond. And yours needs to be too.
Most people woke up to two news stories today. They heard that Facebook suffered a “glitch” that shot people’s semi-private status messages out into the depths of Twitter and FriendFeed. They also heard about the TechCrunch cleansing product liars love triangle. And while Facebook has already corrected the issue (no worries, I’m sure something else will blow up next week.) and Sarah Lacy will come up with an elaborate story as to why she’s not a liar and how her product recommendation was totally organic — both brands took a serious blow.
It sounds dramatic, but it’s not. For me to continue trusting either brand, I’d have to change my actions. I’d have to be more careful, more secretive, more scrutinizing. The dynamic we had is gone. And if that’s how sensitive I am to a company as big and as secure as Facebook, imagine how your customers feel.
Because you’re small, you have a much higher burden of trust to prove. You need to prove to me that you’re honest, that you’re competent, and that my credit card, my data and my heart are all safe with you.
There are plenty of Web site trust factors that you can concern yourself with, however, none of that is as important as how you run your business. It’s not as important as how you deal with me on the phone or in store, how securely you protect my data, and how hard you fight for me when selling me out is the easier option.
TechCrunch has sold out. They actually sold out a long time ago. And Facebook has a history of incompetence and bad decisions. That’s now become their brand. It’s what they’re known for.
Your brand should be based on trust. That’s what will make you a hero or a villain to your customers. But how do you do that – become the type of company people associate with trust, rainbows and baby bunnies? By proving, repeatedly, that you realize that your customers are the most important thing to your business. Because they are.
- Not promising what you can’t deliver or faking expertise.
- Doing what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it.
- Not selling, using or whoring my data.
- Letting me opt in to emails, mailings, and features instead of forcing the opt out.
- Keeping your word, especially when it’s difficult.
- Investing in technology and technologists that will keep me and my information secure.
- Putting me before your shareholders.
- Treating me like a person, not a number.
- Not lying to me. We’re in this together.
- Admitting mistakes. Being human is okay. Even in business.
Building trust is all about the little things. That’s probably been one of my favorite things about forming Outspoken — being able to create that kind of relationship with clients. Because, when it comes down to it, in business and in life it’s all a matter of trust.
What trust signals do you look for?