How do you know if someone is trustworthy? Your intuition tells you something; someone simply feels trustworthy. Competence inspires confidence. In the end, actions speak louder than words. We trust a person who proves worthy of our trust.
Earlier, I presented the trust equation T=(C+R+I)/S from the book The Trusted Advisor. The R stands for reliability. Simply put, it means that you can trust in what the person or the organisation does. They do what they promised, when they promised they’d do it, and the way they promised they would.
In a long-term client relationship (as well as simply in a long-term relationship), you get chances to demonstrate your trustworthiness just about every other day. But what can you do right at the beginning, when a natural way to do that hasn’t yet popped up, when you haven’t even properly begun your cooperation?
Create an opportunity to show them
The Trusted Advisor has a genius and easy-to-follow suggestion. Instead of promising the client that you’ll do something “as soon as possible” or “at the beginning of next week”, give the client a precise time and follow through on it.
When the client asks something of you, tell them that you’ll send or deliver it to them ”on Monday before noon” or ”tomorrow”. The client can relax because they know when they’ll get it. And when you deliver it when you promised you would, you build trust.
Clients appreciate two things: quick reactions and clear schedules. Even when the email requires a thorough answer, further research or content creation, you can send a preliminary response:
“Thanks for your message. I’ll go through these comments and get back to you with corrections on Wednesday by 2pm.”
Damned if I know when I’ll have the time to respond
A lot of people go for, ”Will get it to you ASAP” because it’s simply rather difficult or impossible to say when you really will be able to deliver it, send something or reply to an email. This can be because you have difficulties in managing your workload or your time. It’s a common problem and that’s why this is a great chance to distinguish yourself from the masses.
You can really make a client’s jaw drop when you tell them, ”I’ll write this on Tuesday morning, so you’ll have it in your email in the afternoon on Tuesday.” Dogged by imprecise promises, stretching schedules and constant hurry, clients aren’t used to someone making a clearly defined promise – let alone keeping it.
That is why it pays off to put effort into specificity in client communications even if your own schedule gets chaotic at times. Voluntary accountability reaps its rewards as the client relationship deepens and trust builds up, which in turn makes cooperation more fruitful.
TL;DR: Build trust by giving yourself more precise deadlines
- If you want to make the client trust you, give yourself a precise deadline and stick to it.
- Instead of saying you’ll deliver something ”ASAP”, tell the client you’ll deliver it ”on Monday before noon”.
- The client can relax because they know when they’ll get it.
- When you follow through on your promise, you build up trust.