“If people like you, they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they will do business with you.” ~ Zig Ziglar

What do Amazon, FedEx, Nordstrom and Ritz-Carlton have in common?  Besides being some of the most recognizable brands in the world, they are four of the most trusted brands as well. Why are they trusted? Because they deliver a reliable, consistent product or service day after day.

Being a recognized brand is very important, but being a trusted brand is pure gold. Or should I say pure green, as in the color of money.  Studies have shown that people are willing to spend more money on a transaction if they know they will receive a superior experience. (American Express, 2011).

More so than ever, consumers make a purchase based on emotion, whether it is online, in person or over the phone.  And marketers have consistently touted the fact that trust is one of the strongest emotions for businesses to foster.

A foundation of trust is built over time, but can disappear in the blink of an eye.  As Investor Warren Buffett has said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

Trust is built on delivering a promise and that promise is usually conveyed through advertising and marketing. It involves the total experience a customer goes through before, during and after the purchase or interaction.  Great, consistent customer experiences build trust.  And while professional ratings and reviews are important in building trust, word of mouth referrals are becoming more and more important.  It comes down to connecting to your customers.

How a company handles a problem goes a long way in building trust.  Nobody beats Amazon in creating a superior online shopping experience.  And if there’s a problem?  No problem! They’ll take care of it. The same with Zappos, known for their world class customer service. Open and honest communication is a must, especially if a problem has occurred.  Transparency is critical if you ever have to rebuild trust, especially in a crisis situation.

What are some of the least trusted companies or industries? It’s no surprise phone companies and cable companies head that list. I’m not sure about you, but just thinking about contacting them with a problem sends a shiver down my spine.

A brand is a promise of value to a customer.  And you must be relentlessly focused on delivering that value.  Doing that consistently and forming personal relationships with your customers is the quickest way to build trust. Author Stephen M.R. Covey, states in his book The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, “Trust is equal parts character and competence…You can look at any leadership failure, and it’s always a failure of one or the other”

If you establish a place of trust and relevance with your customers, you are half way to winning the battle.  The more people believe in your brand, the more your reputation will grow through online reviews and word of mouth referrals.  If you deliver a reliable, consistent and dependable product or service, you will have more business than you can handle.

Paul Rutter is a customer loyalty, repeat business and customer service expert, a keynote speaker, corporate trainer and business author. He has had the unique opportunity to live with his customers and co-workers for months at a time traveling the world, and shares his experiences with land based businesses. For more information on More Than Perfect® Service, contact Paul at Paul@PaulRutterSpeaks.com, follow him on Twitter on @RealPaulRutter or visit him on Facebook/PaulRutterSpeaks.

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