Sunday, June 10, 2007

5 Principles to Cement Customer Trust

From Anne M. Obarski
Retail Customer Service and Loyalty
Have you ever second-guessed yourself, on purpose? I imagine all of us have from time to time. Sometimes it is about a decision we have made or those we fail to make. Frequently, in our minds, we hold ourselves accountable. There are times, I am sure, that every single one of us have said, "If I only had it to do all over again", I would have done such and such differently.
But life does not allow us that option. I believe that everything happens for a reason to allow us to grow and become the person we are to be, with our faults and assets, failures as well as accomplishments. We are here "on purpose!"
My purpose in my business is to encourage organizations and people to find a way to trust again. "Trust is probably the most basic human value," says Fred Rogers, better known as Mr.

Nothing is harder to regain, than lost trust.

I believe people do business with people they trust. I believe people do business with people who are knowledgeable, efficient and will deliver what they promise.

As the holiday season approaches, I am already hearing retailers questioning what type of season it will be. The downfall of large corporations looms large and the stock market is the fastest roller coaster ride I have ever seen. And even Martha Stewart is starting to look a little tarnished. So the question is, who will the consumer plan to spend their carefully allocated holiday dollars with this year.

I believe it will be with those businesses that have earned the customers trust.
How did those companies develop and cement that trust? They promised and delivered the following principles of building and maintaining trust.

T - Truth

Trust and solid relationships are built on telling the truth. Companies must maintain this principle both with internal and external customers. It is imperative that this value is represented in everything a company does. We have seen how the lack of solid ethics can crumble even the largest of companies.

R - Responsibility

Trust is built when everyone within an organization realizes what their responsibilities are and that they are held accountable for them. Choose to schedule reviews quarterly for every member of the company to make sure they are aware of their responsibilities. Take ownership of mistakes and be diligent to find ways to make corrections.

U - Unselfishness

Trust is built when employees give of their time and talent in the workplace and do it, unselfishly. Customers appreciate the employee who goes out of their way to satisfy the customer. Customers don't appreciate hearing how badly the employee wants to go home, or how they didn't get a break, or how awful their schedule is.

S - Security

Trust is built on a feeling of security. Good lighting in the parking lot and store entrance, fitting rooms with doors that lock, employees that handle ringing up a sale with accuracy, and alarm systems that are visible are all ways to make the customer feel safe in your place of business. Employees want to feel a sense of job security and that they are appreciated for the job they do.

T - Teamwork

Trust is built when everyone within the organization feels a sense of ownership. How well do your employees work together? Are they willing to go out of their way to help each other out? Do the managers roll up their sleeves to help when the workload is overwhelming? Is there a reward system in place that encourages employees to want to excel? Most importantly, are there cheerleaders within the organization to keep the momentum going when times are tough?
We are at a time when gaining a customers' trust is critical. It is a daily process, on purpose. It is a time to maximize potential, ethically and to deal with conflict and problems, with credibility.
It is a time not to look back but look forward. It is a time not to say, "if only", but to daily say, "I am proud of what we did". And we achieved it, on purpose!
About the Author Anne M. Obarski is the "Eye on Retail Performance". She is an author, professional speaker, retail consultant and Executive Director of Merchandise Concepts. Anne works with companies who are performance, profit and people focused and she helps leaders see their businesses through their customers’ eyes. Anne’s mystery shoppers have secretly "snooped" over 2000 stores searching for excellence in customer service. To reach Anne or learn more, visit

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