Trust is the foundation of any relationship—with family, friends, and even those we encounter out in public. But trust takes on an entirely new meaning when it applies to choosing a service provider. Earning a client’s trust can be complicated and it’s imperative to generate revenue and build a sustainable business. Trust in business is also very fragile and can be lost easily and nearly impossible to restore.
So, what is trust hinged upon?
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Trust in a service-based business is tethered to certainty, consistency, and ultimately, delivering on what the client comes to expect from your engagement. At the heart of the matter is certainty. When a client can’t be sure they can rely on you to do your part, uncomfortable feelings of anxiety and doubt suck the energy out of them. Instead of spending their time focusing on their job or what is important in their life, their energy is diverted to whether or not you will be performing the job they hired you to do.
This is a slippery slope. Less trust leads to less energy. Less energy leads to less tolerance, patience, and flexibility. Unfortunately, this can also lead to anger, creating an unhealthy and unsustainable working relationship. The results are damaging: lost clients, lost revenue, and perhaps even a tarnished reputation for overpromising and under-delivering on your commitment.
In case it hasn’t become crystal clear just yet, uncertainty with clients can make or break the longevity and sustainability of your business.
What can you do to prevent this from happening? Here are three best practices to keep in mind when seeking to maintain trust with your clients.
1) Clearly spell out the services you will provide:
Before entering into a working relationship with a new client, put all of the expectations, services, and deliverables in a detailed scope of work. Include the price for the work involved and how often the service will be delivered. This keeps everyone on the same page. You are held accountable for what you are promising, but you are also protected should a client ask you to go above and beyond the original agreement (in which case you would be in a position to decline or renegotiate your rates).
2) Explain your customer service policy:
You never want a client to feel snubbed, ignored, or unimportant. This is one of the fastest ways to bruise a client’s ego and lose trust. But, fielding customer service issues can be one of the most time-consuming tasks for a service-based business. For these reasons, you need to make sure you have succinct customer service processes in place for each main scenario where a client may need help. Map out the employees who will handle the initial contact and the steps they should take to resolve the issue. Having these systems ensures (1) your clients are always well taken care of and (2) your staff knows how to field their issues without having to interrupt you when you are tending to higher-level tasks.
3) Define Terms of Service:
Clearly lay out how long your engagement should last and what the client should do if they decide to discontinue service in the future. Include how they should notify you and how far in advance you require notice. You may wish to have a legal professional review your contract to ensure you are adequately protected.
Whether you are new to your industry or have been serving for decades, there is no getting around the importance trust bears on your success. Ensure that expectations are clear from the beginning and remain the same or are adjusted as time demands. Additionally, check in from time to time to be clear that you and your staff are providing excellent customer service. If you’re unsure, consider sending out a customer survey to identify where your business could use improvement.
Growing your business is no easy feat, but the fact that you are reading means you must be dedicated to the task. If you find yourself in need of more assistance, you can reach out to me or purchase our DIY Client Clarity and Experience Course with templates to guide you.
As always, health and serenity to you!
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