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The Ultimate Compliment Your Client Can Pay You

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The Ultimate Compliment Your Client Can Pay You

This week I received a real boost from a major client of our consultancy business. Our contact at this very large company was leaving for another company. With just hours to go, he sent an email informing us about the handover arrangements and our new contacts.

However, he also included in his email what I consider to be the ultimate compliment to our business and our team.

… I want to say thank you (and the team) for your efforts since coming on board in 2016. You run a really professional ship and there has been a great deal of trust build up between 4T and (our company) over this time.

Our contact used the “T” word – Trust.

The way I see it, when such an influential and respected client uses the word “trust”, it’s a sure-fire sign that we’ve been doing our job really well.

What does “Trust” in business actually mean?

While I was extremely happy to read this email, I started to wonder what exactly our contact meant by “a great deal of trust built up”, what we had specifically done to prompt his comment and what it meant for our future relationship.

I decided to Google the word “trust” – as you do – and found several definitions. Merriam-Webster, for example, says: “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something”.

This implies that Trust is multi-dimensional. In fact, the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote that Trust has three parts:

  • Intelligence (correctness or opinion, or competence)
  • Character (reliability and honesty)
  • Goodwill (favourable intentions)

So how do you deliver these measures to your clients??

Intelligence (Technical ability and competence)

Acquire and maintain all the technical, academic, creative and other relevant skills you need in order to do your very best work – consistently. There are plenty of competitors doing mediocre work.

Our consultancy provides science-based services. We therefore have to ensure that all members of the team are appropriately qualified. We also give them internal training to ensure that everyone delivers the same standard of service, every time. We want to make sure that our clients have complete confidence in what we offer to them.

Character (Ethical conduct)

Your word is your bond and your brand. Over the past few years we have all seen the consequences of deficiency of character. The Global Financial Crisis, born of unethical behaviour, nearly brought the world economy undone. Banks would not deal with each other because they did not trust each other. The list of corporate scandals is long and inglorious. Some recent ones that spring to mind are Volkswagen and the makers of Nurofen.

In our consultancy business, we handle large amounts of scientific data on behalf of our clients. Each one of them has to trust us with the confidentiality of that information and therefore we would never ever break that confidentiality.

Equally as importantly, if you say you are going to do something, do it. Keep your word. If an obstacle comes up, explain it to the client and don’t leave them in the lurch.

Goodwill (Consider the best interests of your client at all times)

Every business will come across some circumstances where they could profit from the lack of information or vulnerability of the party they do transactions with. In fact, many large companies see this “opportunity” as a driver of their business model.

As professionals, our consultancy team regularly helps clients to solve problems that are not part of our project work. If you see some way to help your client to achieve their objectives, make sure they hear about it.

Trust is what happens when you act in your client’s best interest, even when they aren’t looking.

To sum it up, working to build trust is not a simple or singular thing. There are so many ways that trust can be built (and destroyed). When working with big clients, you will have to meet a number of performance metrics. These can vary widely depending upon your industry and what type of good or service you are supplying.

But there is one Key Performance Indicator that there isn’t a metric for. Trust is a feeling that can’t be objectively evaluated.

So when your client uses the word “Trust”, they are paying the ultimate compliment to you, your business and your team.

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