Most people do business to generate a profit. For a business to generate sufficient income for survival, there is much investment needed in various ways. All businesses require customers to pay for products and or services. In order for customers to remain loyal to a business entity for life, trust is the most fundamental core value to develop, earn, and nurture. For business success, every employee should reinforce this core value from the frontline team (the gate attendant and those who interact with customers and suppliers over the phone, online, or in-person) to the leaders, for customers to believe in the business naturally. It is quite imperative for a brand to earn this priceless cove-value to earn customer trust. In this article; I am going to explain why earning trust is sacrosanct to be successful, and what you should do to develop, earn, and nurture trust in your business.

What is trust

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines trust as the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. Put in simpler terms, trust means believing, placing confidence in, or relying on something or someone. Trust is the foundation holding relationships together, be it business, political or social. Many levels of trust exist, for example, trust occurs between two people, within a team, a company, across companies or organisations, within a country, and across many nations, often touching on complex systems such as the banking system, transport system, and so on. Experts hinge trust on attributes such as integrity, benevolence, accountability, respect, honestness, consistency, and transparency.

Why is trust so important in business

  • Trust builds strong and sustainable business relationships with customers, suppliers, employees and stakeholders, at least from an ethical perspective. According to Brian Tracy, “trust is the glue that holds all relationships together–including the relationship between the leader and the led.”
  • Trust between the employers and employees, leaders and followers is the foundation of every excellent working environment. People feel at ease, cooperative, innovative, and productive, which yields outstanding customer services, high efficiency and high revenue. “Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work,” Warren Bennis. According to Stephen Covey, “trust is the highest form of human motivation which brings out the very best in people.”
  • It develops a reputation worth believing and sharing by clients, which is the most effective means of product marketing through referrals. “The primary reason people believe in anything is because others believe,” Brian Norgard.
  • Experts normally prefer to work with companies with an excellent reputation and a strong ethical and trusting culture, which reduces training costs and improves productivity.
  • There is enormous room for higher sales and turnover because many customers prefer to get products and services from trustworthy businesses with higher trust indices.
  • Lack of trust is the chief reason most Governments and Media organisations are failing globally. According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer survey in 28 nations, the level of trust from the least trusted to the most trusted on the 4 areas studied are, Governments and Government organisations, Media, Private Business, and Non-Governmental Organisations. In 21 of the 28 nations surveyed, respondents showed they trust private business in solving their problems than Governments. Lack of trust is also the principal reason most companies and prominent business personnel are failing today, news headlines can tell, which is a key indicator of the importance of trust in business processes.
  • Running a trustworthy business invites investors to invest their wealth believing in low risk on their investments. They feel at ease to inject capital for a higher return on investment.
  • Trust invites real friends and strengthens the social relationships between people. “As social animals we need friends and what attracts them is trust,” Dalai Lama.
  • Trust makes it possible to get attention, favour and business from people. “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective,” Stephen Covey. “Trust opens up new and unimagined possibilities,” Robert C. Solomon. “Trust can make complex things possible. The absence of trust can make simple things impossible.” The Stoic Emperor.
  • Trust is a key attribute that keeps our relationship with God the creator favourable. It pleases God and opens doors for his favours, as Brennan Manning rightly puts it, “Trust is that rare and priceless treasure that wins us the affection of our heavenly Father.”
  • Trust is difficult to regain once broken. “Trust is like a vase, once it’s broken, though you can fix it, the vase will never be same again,” Walter Anderson. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it,” Warren Buffett. “Trust is the easiest thing in the world to lose, and the hardest thing in the world to get back,” R. Williams.

How to build trust.

  • To build trust, you need to be very reliable and keep your promises. “Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean,” Don Miguel Ruiz. “Align your daily interactions with clients to ensure marriage between words and deeds, mean what you say and do what you promise because you earn trust when actions meet words”, Chris Butler once said. Avoid over-promising, or over-committing yourself because there is a significant loss of reputation if you promise and cannot deliver. It is better to under-promise and over-deliver.
  • Observe your non-verbal communication to ensure you do not offend anyone because it is as important as what you say. In fact, experts say action speaks louder than words.
  • Put your focus on developing sustainable, long-term success instead of short-term gains. If a short-term win jeopardises your long-term relationship, preserve your core values by letting it go. Give generously without expecting to receive and reciprocate favours.
  • Communicate and connect with clients. Use every interaction as a chance to build relationships and nurture trust. Do not communicate only, but connect with the people. Use clear, open, and simple language and ensure the message is well understood. Keep yourself from telling lies to avoid remembering much, because there is no consistency in lies projected.
  • Be kind. Do not exploit your partner unfairly in a vulnerable, compromised, or difficult situation. Observe the biblical golden rule; do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.
  • Seek for important feedback from customers and employees regularly, and work to meet their needs, expectations, views and style. This is part of emotional intelligence. For example, you can put your management team for scrutiny and validate your company’s core values using a questionnaire with questions such as “Our management means their words”, “My manager trust me”, “I trust my manager”, “Our company is letting us down”, just to mention but a few.
  • When at fault, admit, accept correction, and resolve issues in a timely manner. Value your customer feedback and always treat them right, because you are a servant to the customers. Be ready to go beyond with a disagreement, just to get the issue resolved and avoid losing your hard-earned reputation. I once heard of critical workers being sent home for violating company ethical standards, to preserve the long-built company trust. Just respect their views if they are different.
  • Offer competitive pricing and show consistency in your operations. Do not be unpredictable in business. “Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them,” Roy T. Bennett.
  • Be transparent. “If you live your life honestly and truthfully, you’ll be open and transparent, which leads to trust,” Dalai Lama.
  • Be accountable and reliable. Never let your clients down and be genuinely interested in their issues. View customers as people, not people as customers.
  • Learn by heart to keep strong morals and principles, doing the right thing always. If something is not within your expertise, decline to undertake it. “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether or not you did it,” Oprah Winfrey.
  • Be polite and always appreciate your customers, thanking them for doing business with you.
  • Trust others and encourage them to trust. Be positive, patient, flexible, and forgiving. Following Adam Grant, trust is not all about liking your team, but being able to count on them. “A king who trusts no man is weak,” Patricia Briggs. “Prominent leaders are great because people respect and trust them, not because they have power,” Ken Blanchard.
  • Be trustworthy. Following Paul Melendez, in order to establish trust, it is first important that you be trustworthy. This means you should be forthright with all your dealings. Your words and deeds must match if you expect employees to trust in your leadership, Kevin Kruse once said. “If you don’t have trust inside your company, then you can’t transfer it to your customers,” Roger Staubach.