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July 19, 2016

The Golden Goose of Brand Strength – grow sales with customer trust

by Tim Montague                         July 16, 2016
Smile. Under promise, over deliver. Get hard things done with cheerful promptness. Getting people to like you and trust you is 80% of the battle. You have to have great products and services, that’s a given. Trust has become a leadership quality that sets you and your brand apart. Today I’m going to share some timeless truths that will help you build your brand and grow sales. If you have a decent product or service, you can rise to the top of the heap by doing a few simple things that will make people like you and trust you.

In my work with entrepreneurs and owners, board members, executive directors and business leaders, there is one common theme: they all want more! They want to grow, increase revenue, and improve profitability of their operation. They generally love their business, and why not? (And if they don’t then they are in the wrong business.) They want more customers (more happy, repeat customers!), more success stories, and more peace of mind!

When your business is operating smoothly, when the engine of growth is revving up, you are excited, relaxed, more creative and ready to take on new challenges and opportunities. That’s why we want to get into the growth zone. Everything is just better. If you have recently launched a new product or service, and ‘just need to reach more customers,’ then this is a good time to build your brand through trust and loyalty.

People do business with people they like and trust. More trust, more like, more sales. It may be easy to get people to like you, and it may not. If you are friendly, respectful, genuine, and interested in others, then people will naturally like you. We all know quickly if we like someone or not. Sadly, we may not be able to control if people like us. But we can control if people trust us. This is key. Did you get that? You can control if others trust you. And if they trust you they are more likely to like you and want to do business with you. 

How to build trust, you ask? The short and somewhat trite answer is, by being trustworthy, of course. By doing what you say you are going to do, when you said you would do it, and doing it with a smile, you are trustworthy. Also by working for your customers with passion, focus and a shared sense of urgency. Nothing worth doing is easy, but doing worthy things with grace is the art of high performance.

So, you may not be able to control how much people like you. That’s a chemistry thing. I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please comment. Sure, you can modify your language, your smile, and you can learn new ways of being that will make more people like you. But trust is much easier to manipulate than like. Care about both, but w/o trust you are sunk. 

Trust is fragile – treat it like a golden egg
People want to trust you, so don’t give them easy reasons to not trust you. The weird thing about trust is that it is so fragile. If you under promise and over deliver, then voila! People will like you and trust your brand. In turn, this will win customers and turn them into brand evangelists. If you over promise and under deliver then, oops, not so much.

People really like having their expectations met and exceeded. They don’t like being let down. If you let your customer down by missing an important deadline, by not showing up with the goods you promised, if there are problems with quality control…whatever it is, if you let your customer down you have to take immediate and powerful corrective action. The trust time bomb starts ticking as soon as you fall down and you don’t want the bomb to go off because that bomb is customers walking (or running!) away, telling their friends and colleagues not to use your brand. Not only will you lose a customer, you will lose all the customers that customer could have referred you to. Accrued losses aplenty!

It’s amazing how this simple truth makes the difference between brands that speak to us, connect with us, and become trusted go-to solutions. Amazon is a company that does this very well. I’m a loyal Amazon customer. While they are not perfect 100% of the time, they certainly meet or exceed my expectations 95% of the time. That is your goal. Meet or exceed customer expectations 95% of the time. I know, that’s a big number. It’s OK to freak out if your number is 65%; but please be in action to correct the culture that creates that state of affairs. Take action.

Lemonade from lemons
I had a customer service issue with a printer (a nice large format ink-jet printer) I bought recently. I did lots of research and read many customer reviews of all the options I had on the market. It was a bit of a slog but I found a printer that I was confident could meet my needs and print large format (my main criteria). As it turned out, the printer had problems right out of the box and it was clear the product was a lemon and needed to be replaced. My dealings with the manufacturer were pretty much a nightmare. They started making me jump through dozens of hoops. The wanted to send new ink. They wanted to enlessly clean the printer nozzles. I know, you’ve been there! No fun. It was sucking huge amounts of my time and effort to get to a workable solution (a printer that did what I wanted – printed words and images on paper). A colleague suggested I just go to Amazon and request a refund and return the product. Voila! All my little nightmares with this lemon were gone. The manufacturer was dragging their feet to take corrective action. But Amazon took care of the problem for me. Trust built. Loyalty earned. Business gained.

Not only does Amazon have great customer service, their fulfillment service is awesome. You order something, they tell you when to expect it, based on your shipping preferences, and Amazon consistently hits their delivery deadlines like a champion. I use Amazon Prime and two-day shipping means two-day shipping. Done. Keeps me coming back for more! I also use ‘Amazon Smile’ which is a way to donate a percentage of the proceeds of your purchases to a cause of your choice. Check it out!

Smile. Under promise, over deliver. Get hard things done with cheerful promptness. In time, this will be a golden goose for your business that keeps on giving. Until next time, growth for the greater good!

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