Company’s Trust Factor to Enhance the Bottom Line
With billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout money, how much
do you trust the leadership of the banks that, after record losses,
gave themselves unprecedented raises? How much do you trust the
leaders of Wall Street? How much do you trust our government’s
ability to manage the money they have given to the banks or the auto
industry? How much do you trust the leaders of the auto industry to
do the “right thing” with the bailout money? This growing lack of
trust can have serious consequences as we try to reverse the
economic meltdown and bring about positive change and growth.
The one thing every business professional should be certain
about, regardless of industry, is that the future is all about
relationships. And the one thing all relationships need to survive
is trust. In fact, trust is the glue that holds the net-enabled
knowledge economy together. The more trust you have with someone,
the more powerful the relationship. The less trust you have, the
weaker the relationship.
In business, trust is something you must earn. You do so by
displaying three universal values: honesty, integrity, and
delivering on promises. In fact, no matter where you travel around
the world and regardless of religion or culture, those three values
are the same.
Because people worldwide place such a high emphasis on trust,
many companies cite “trust” in their list of organizational values.
And by nature, most people are indeed trusting of others. But
because trust is assumed, many companies have a tendency to
implement strategies that undermine trust. They fail to make trust a
conscious part of their strategy. Instead, trust stays in the back
of their mind, and that’s when problems begin.
For example, call your Telephone Company or Internet Service
Provider today and tell them you’re going to cancel your service and
go with a different provider. Chances are that in order to keep you
as a customer, they’ll respond by offering you a lower rate. Does
that make you trust them more? No. In fact, you’ll probably feel
that you’ve been getting ripped off all these years and should have
gotten that lower price all along. Policies such as these train
customers to distrust the company.
But trust mishaps don’t just happen with external customers
and the public; they also happen internally with employees. A few
years ago one major company laid-off a few thousand employees.
Rather than meeting with people individually, laying them off with
dignity and providing support services, the company had their
security guards tell those being laid-off the bad news, gave them
their paperwork, watched them clean out their desk, and then
escorted the former employees out the door. The employees still
working there learned one important lesson that day: Never trust
Despite their actions, companies that violate trust are not
evil. Rather, they’re simply not thinking about trust when they lay
out a course of action or outline policies. Therefore, in order to
foster trust in your organization, consider the following
Never assume trust:
you’re bringing about any change, either internally or externally,
create a “trust meter.” Think of this trust meter as an old
fashioned gas gauge: On the far left is no trust, and on the far
right is full trust. Before you implement any change, ask yourself,
“Between us (the company) and the people who will be impacted by
this decision or policy, where is trust currently?” Mark it
somewhere on your trust meter. Then ask, “If we implement this
change in this way, what will happen to that trust?” Mark whether
you think trust will go down, stay the same, or increase.
If trust will go down, don’t implement the change in that
way. This doesn’t mean don’t enact the change, decision, or
policy. It simply means not to do it in the way you’ve outlined.
Change how you implement the decision or policy so trust stays where
it is. And if anyone on your team can come up with a way to get the
trust meter to increase when implementing the change, reward that
person openly, because you want that behavior repeated. Remember,
when you raise the bar on trust, your organization will thrive.
Offer more value to
As you decide what
policies and changes your company will implement, think in terms of
adding value rather than giving something for nothing. For example,
one newspaper publisher sent out a $190 yearly renewal notice to
customers. Those customers who didn’t renew by the deadline received
a phone call about the renewal. The newspaper employee offered the
customer a deeply discounted renewal rate of $90. This is “something
for nothing” mentality, because now the customer sees less value in
the product (and feels ripped off for paying the higher renewal
price in the past).
A better strategy would be to offer the customer a few
additional months of newspaper delivery for no extra charge. So now
instead of getting twelve months of newspaper delivery for a certain
price, the customer gets fifteen months of service for that same
price. When you think in terms of rewarding loyalty with more value
rather than a lower price, people feel that the company is giving
them a genuine “thank you.” They feel appreciated (something
everyone wants to feel) and will actually want to keep doing
business with you. Therefore, pinpoint what your customers will
perceive as added value and make that a part of your policy change.
Think in terms of
the other person’s perspective:
No matter how hard you try, sometimes mistakes will happen
and trust will decrease. But rather than accept the lower level of
trust, see this time as an opportunity to raise the bar on trust
with those who are feeling less of it. For example, suppose you have
a major disagreement with one of your key distributors. You both
think the other is wrong. This is when you need to step up and say
to the distributor, “We’ve had a long and trusting relationship with
you and we don’t want to lose that. What can we do to make you
happy?” The answer you’ll hear will likely be more than fair because
the conversation has now shifted from a confrontational to a
relational one. Everyone will come out a winner.
and employees about trust:
Have employees, business partners, and customers rate you on trust. You
could even have them fill out the trust meter for you. With this
feedback, you will know where you stand and can make adjustments.
All too often, trust is undermined and the company and its leaders
are the last to know, and this can be disastrous. If you are the
first to know, you can make corrections before it is too late. This
also shows everyone that relationships and mutual trust are not just
words, they are imperatives.
Trust Provides a
Big Advantage in Any Economy:
Too often, customer service and support are cut back when the economy
heads south. People are laid-off with no warning or support.
Face-to-face customer meetings are cut back or canceled. But this is
a time to do the opposite. When things are bad, relationships become
more important! Doing things better stands out more. Becoming a
trusted advisor versus a sales person stands out. Going the extra
mile is more unique.
increase trust, your relationships will deepen. This will allow you
to bring about change faster and more effectively, and to improve
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