Dear Carnegie Coach:
I recently had a difficult client relationship. We had a hard time working together and I suspect much of this came down to an issue of trust. The client did not seem to trust the work we were doing. I want to make sure that this is not a problem for me in the future. Do you have any advice on how I can develop and grow a sense of trust with future clients?
From the first time we encounter a customer; we can behave in a way that will start to establish trust. Client trust grows over time, if we have the professional and interpersonal skills to take the client relationship to the next stage. Here are the four stages you will go through when building a customer relationship, in order to establish that trust.
- Impression – It is often said that we only have on opportunity too make a good first impression. Yet, many elements influence that impression. To establish early levels of trust, we focus on visual and vocal factors, as well as our organization and follow through. Make sure that all of your sales materials and correspondence with the client are professional. You also want to be responsive to any and all questions and requests for more information.
- Interaction – Once we have entered into a relationship with a new customer; we experience a series of interactions, such as telephone discussions, meetings, proposals, and emails. These interactions, if handled professionally and thoughtfully, raise client trust to the next level. You must demonstrate your interpersonal skills and also prove your ability to follow-through and handle things in a timely manor.
- Direction – When clients reach the point of asking us for advice or direction in our area of professional expertise, we have risen to the next level of trust. The client now views us as an advisor and subject-matter expert. You should demonstrate your willingness and ability to provide expert guidance based on an understanding of the clients situation.
- Consultation – At this level of trust you are no considered to be part of the client’s strategic team. They will turn to you whenever an issue arises, and they trust you to play a role in developing their strategy. Your clients will expect you to help them develop strategic plans and be on the ground floor of new initiatives.
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