Growing a business effectively is about a lot more than slick marketing, solid funding, or a great product. Becoming established, competing, and growing to become an industry leader requires businesses to build a trust relationship with their customers, their target markets, and the public.

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Unhappy customers are far more likely to share their negative experience online and in person than happy customers are. Because of that, businesses need to work hard to provide a positive experience for all customers. Just intending to treat customers fairly isn’t enough to develop the trust needed to really be successful. To grow, you need to build a reputation for consistency, honesty, and reliability with existing clients and the public.

Manage initial expectations

Potential customers are often set up for disappointment before they even make a purchasing decision. Salespeople, particularly those working on commission, have a strong incentive to do whatever it takes to close a sale. Similarly, marketers often have a strong incentive to maximise the number of leads that they bring in, rather than the quality of those leads. This is dangerous, because misinformed clients quickly become irate and disappointed clients. Marketing and sales strategies that don’t keep expectations realistic and measured may boost conversions in the near term, but they can slow your business’ growth in the long term, because they undermine trust in your organisation.

As clients realise that their initial expectations won’t be met, they’ll leave dissatisfied, damaging your reputation and driving up turnover rates. You’ll be forced to scramble to close on more leads just to keep the lights on, setting your business up for more of the same.

Marketing teams and salespeople need to work closely with other departments in your business. To be effective, they need to build and maintain a thorough understanding of how your business works, and what client solutions they can offer and should emphasize. This way they can ensure that newly converted clients are well informed and primed for a positive experience.

Be transparent

By actively explaining your processes and business model to clients as they’re being onboarded, you can show them specifically what their money buys, and give them a clearer picture about what they can expect from your products or services. Of course, clients don’t need to know exactly what you’re doing at every hour of every day, but opening up early and offering detailed information about your business helps to establish that initial trust relationship.

Not all clients will be interested in exploring every detail, but it’s important to give them the opportunity to satisfy their curiosity. Make it clear to them that you’re happy to answer any questions they have, and provide them with written updates that contain any relevant information pertaining to their project as the relationship develops.

Active communication

Poor communication undermines trust. Your customers will hold you accountable to their expectations of your business, even if clear expectations were never properly set or communicated. Additionally, in the longer term, it poses an increased risk for miscommunication, and that any resulting issues are more likely to persist for an extended period of time before they’re noticed.

With many clients, maintaining good, active communication can be difficult to do well. Those clients with whom communication is most difficult to maintain are often the ones that need it most. They might not have or make the time to check on the progress of their project, attend meetings, or thoroughly read through written updates. Making regular calls and sending emails persistently is an essential preventive measure to ensure that you and your business have all the information and feedback you need to satisfy the client.

Maintain consistency to grow organically

A business that manages expectations well and offers a great product will quickly build a base of happy customers. Happy customers become brand advocates, and will inevitably begin to refer friends and associates to you. To build more trust with these advocates, and encourage them to continue to refer clients to you, it’s critical to maintain a high level of consistency in the quality of your product or service.

Making a referral is a part of networking and building strong business relationships. In this case, the person advocating for you is using their relationship with your business to strengthen their relationship with a third party. By providing the same (or better) quality of service to that new customer as you did to the brand advocate, you indirectly benefit the brand advocate by adding value to their recommendation. Not only will your new client have a positive experience, they’ll benefit from a stronger relationship with the brand advocate. This encourages advocates to continue to refer new clients to you, because it benefits them as long as the people they refer continue to have good experiences.

Building trust with customers isn’t about saying the right things. Instead, it’s about being a business that performs consistently while also communicating well. Take the time to educate clients, set clear expectations, and communicate openly, and you’ll have no trouble building the trust you need to find and retain the customers you need to grow your business.