CEO of Truckstop.com, leading the company toward empowering the freight community with trusted and innovative solutions.
Businesses often strive for innovation and first-mover advantages by using artificial intelligence, machine learning and other technological advancements. But they should not overlook the value of building and maintaining a genuine level of trust, which can provide businesses with one of their greatest advantages.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents feel that trust matters more than it did last year, according to a survey by Salesforce. Most (93%) also said that their trust in a company makes them more likely to recommend it to others.
Business leaders can establish and build their trust with existing customers as well as prospective clients by being open and honest about their policies and procedures and staying true to their word through and through. Leaders should also take a moment to connect with clients as often as possible to let them know they are there, they are listening and they are ready to serve their needs.
Be open and honest about all policies and procedures.
The transportation industry, which I am in, relies on strong relationships and trust. Every industry does, no matter the size or sector. Transparency and honesty are two essential facets of relationship building and, therefore, should not be ignored.
This is true for any relationship, whether you’re connecting with staff who want to know what to expect as the world returns to “normal” or clients who want to better understand the terms of their agreement.
For example, carriers — the individuals or companies that transport goods to a destination on behalf of a shipper — might want clarity on the rules of their factoring companies. In the transportation space, factoring (also known as “accounts receivables financing”) occurs when a carrier partners with a third-party financial company to sell an invoice to get paid faster. This is a vital tool for carriers that want to improve their cash flow position without waiting the normal amount of time — often ranging from 30 to 60 days — for payment to be processed.
Given the importance of factoring, carriers will want to know if they have to sign a long-term contract. And if they do, will they incur high fees if they exit before the contractual period has ended?
Similarly, tech companies might want to know more about the legal firms they hire to safeguard patents and intellectual property from copycats and potential lawsuits. They’ll want to know what to expect if and when a patent is infringed upon by another party or, worse, challenged in court.
In these or any other cases, business leaders must be prepared to have open and frank discussions. You should be inquisitive as well to find out more about client expectations, any problems they may have and how to best solve them.
Stay true to your word through and through.
Transparency is, without a doubt, one of the most critical parts of establishing and maintaining great relationships. But I also touched on the value of building trust, and I think it’s important to go over it in more detail. Although it might sound obvious on paper — what business doesn’t strive for trustworthiness? — the reality is that, in practice, trust is subtle and easy to overlook.
A company might say one thing over the phone in trying to make a sale and, intentionally or not, tweak the facts about what is actually being offered. Then, when a contract is presented, the more accurate details are revealed and, consequently, the level of trust declines. This is no way to run a business, and it’s certainly not the best way to attract and retain a profitable customer base. Customer success should be cultivated not only with great service but also with honesty and transparency.
That’s why it is imperative that as a business leader, you stay true to your word through and through in order to develop the level of trust that is so vital in today’s competitive landscape.
Connect and reconnect with clients as often as possible.
If 2020 taught business leaders anything, it’s the value of maintaining relationships. This is easier said than done, but it’s an integral part of leading a successful enterprise.
Remember to connect with clients as often as possible to let them know your company is there and ready to help. If you haven’t done so as of late, now is the time to take action. While few were able to connect in person in 2020, clients need to know the leaders of the businesses they work with are out there.
Truth be told, there is never a wrong time to connect, if only to say “hi” and to see how that person is doing. People appreciate the sentiment and will remember those who took a moment to reach out versus those who failed to do so.
Whether in person, via Zoom or over the phone, don’t hesitate to connect with your clients. Even a quick email can make all the difference in building and rebuilding connections in a world that was suddenly disconnected by Covid-19.
Lead with trust, transparency and a genuine connection.
Business leaders need to recognize the value of trust and transparency. This is more than a platitude repeated by corporations but rarely followed. In fact, it must be followed or clients will seek out businesses that are truer to their word.
By being open and honest from the very start, clients, partners and others looking to do business with you will have clear expectations and a full understanding of what they are getting. And by taking a moment to connect, you can show your organization is there for others in good times and in bad — and that relationships mean more than dollar signs.