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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Today's Topic is Trust

Anne Obarski writes in The Side Road, that earning customer trust is the only way to win and keep customers. She's right. But that doesn't stop people taking a disastrous short cut: Winning customers only to lose their trust later and lose their business right after that.

The unfortunate thing is that organizations are not consciously trying to lose their customers trust. The sad thing is that its done without knowing. They do it when they are paying attention to other things, like trying to make a profit this year or next.

I recently wrote a couple of articles about Healthcare Customer Relationship Management and Customer Service in Healthcare. I learned that keeping trust with patients and customers is what its all about in Healthcare. I'll take the medicine, change my diet, do the exercise, because I trust that you tell me that this is what I need to do to improve my health. If I don't trust, then I won't do, and the treatment won't work.

The Values-Driven Consumer - this is one of the 7 trends identified in MegaTrends 2010 by Patricia Aberdene. I appreciate learning about it from Mark Silver's newsletter, www.heartofbusiness.com Here's my insight, businesses and customers are looking for trusted relationships, in reaction to unprofitable, dissatisfying relationships that emerge when customers and businesses are driven purely by financial considerations.

I love Trader Joes. Its a grocery store, there are two branches within 2 miles of my house and I go to each one at least once a week, sometimes more. I trust their food selection - mostly its yummy, it offers healthy choices, and its not a huge zoo. They have filtered down their selection to the things that are really likely to appeal to me. How did they build my trust? Well, I first heard that they are "cut price gourmet". At first I still went regularly to a supermarket. But as Trader Joe's selection expanded to include more day to day stuff, like fresh fruit and veggies and cereal and bread, it became unnecessary to go to a supermarket anymore. And they offer little sampling cups of coffee in the store, which is a nice touch that I really appreciate. And once in a while, I'll buy a fragrant bunch of oriental lilies for the dining table as a visual and perfuming treat.

I am driven by financial considerations, but I also like convenience, a discriminating selection that meets my tastes and needs, nearby parking and friendly people with viviid personalities at the checkout who always ask me "Did you find everything you need?". I really feel like I am doing business with People, not an abstract entity. People that I could trust if I was caught in an earthquake with. (This is quite a consideration in California, where the Big One is now past due)

There's a flip side of the coin. What do customers do that show businesses that they can trust them? Well, the obvious one is "Have a Good Credit Record", paying your bills. If we as customers want businesses to respect us as individuals, then we should respect businesses and their right to run their businesses to meet their goals. We need to appreciate those who go out of their way to help us, not just take it for granted. We are not monarchs or aristocrats, no one on earth was put here to serve us, and when something special is done for us, it is appropriate and necessary for us to respond in acknowledgement.

Trust is a Two-Way Track.

Trusted businesses will get more business.

Trusted customers will get more satisfaction from their business relationships.

3 comments:

Darius said...
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Darius said...

Trust - what is trust?

I trust google to find me the info that i need. I dont know them personally and i dont need to. Intel. Nokia. Apple. Nike. Each stand for something i trust them for, something that is simple and straight forward.

On the other end, I may trust McKinsey or Bain to help me plan my business better. But this one comes down to the person, I've gotta believe that the person i am dealing with really do have the insight and integrity to give me what i need. No amount of big name is going to subsitute that. Same with any legal, accounting, HR firms, etc. I need a personal trust.

What about the in-betweens? What about Salesforce? The Salesforce sales process clearly includes a trust building process - e.g. a major pre-sales program having people focused on understanding the customer and their business problem, people who are told specifically NOT to sell. They make the customer comfortable, they help identify the customer's needs and how salesforce can help them. They build trust before even selling anything to the customer, and they work hard to keep it afterwards.

Yet, for me, I dont need that pre-sales process. I already trust Salesforce for Hosted CRM, perhaps because i have already used CRM for a while and it's clear to me what they do and how well they do it. But the key to me is - their message is simple, that's why my trust is built so easily. Hosted CRM. No Software. 5 users for less then a thousand a year.

So i guess my reflection is - how "personal" the trust building needs to be depends on how simple the message/value proposition is. I trust Cosco to sell me cheap stuff, and i dont it to be personal; and i would trust trader's joe to sell me good food ( or even educate me on what's good ), and more importantly sell me a good shopping experience, and this one is personal.

Salesforce for me sells a Hosted CRM solution - i can visualize it, i can understand it, i trust; for some others who are less familiar with CRM ( particularly SME in Asia Pac ) they sell a busines value - increasing sales performance. Then it requires trust building on a personal level - it requires someone i can trust to educate me and make sure i get my value out of buying the system.

What do you think?

Mei Lin Fung said...

Darius,

I like the distinction, the context that you are adding to the discussion of trust.

Context is critical!

Mei Lin