Someone recently shafted and almost derailed a project I worked on through being untrustworthy: someone I trusted utterly. When quizzed, he said ‘managing my reputation is my main concern’.

Anyway, it’s clear this plonker is not alone in the world: entrepreneurship professor Noah Wasserman estimates 83% of start-ups fail, not down to lack of funding or resource, but because of poor business relationships.

Today I’m delivering two new workshops for techies and online retailers, focussing on building trust. Based on research from different sectors, there are 4 key questions most of us seem to ask ourselves when it comes to trusting others:

1.Do you know your stuff?

We want to sense that you are credible, honest, energetic and love your subject. If you’re providing any sort of professional service, you can supplement this with expert resources for clients, should they wish to raid. The research showed we don’t trust people we regard as windbags. Bet you can all think of someone you’d love to stop huffin’…

For online retailers, there’s clearly a difference between shops out to make as many fast bucks as possible,(the offer is completely about price, little goods description and no story or enthusiasm) and the retailers who are in love with their selection and edit, and are bothering to communicate that.

2.Do you deliver?

Literally, in the case of online retailers, we want you to deliver. Amazon of course frequently exceeds our expectations, by delivering before date described.

But delivery in the case of service businesses, means all those small behaviours of professionalism: turning up on time, confirming meetings beforehand, communicating thoroughly over deadlines, e-mailing round everyone who was in a meeting afterwards to check understanding. You’re a tour guide, letting the party know where they are in your project. And you’re taking responsibility.

3. Do you get me?

In online shopping there’s a world of difference between copy which says ‘we know who you are and we are like this too’ and copy that screams ‘ just buy me for god’s sake’. And we know, on average that repeat business costs 7 times less than new business to create. (some goods, especially utility ones, can be effectively sold on just-buy-me-for-god’s-sake lines)

Funnily enough as regards service professionals, when clients feel the provider doesn’t understand them, their most frequent deprecating descriptive is ‘they’re just technical’. You’ve been warned…

Listening to clients and understanding where they’re at will always come before problem-solving if we’re to be trusted and build long-term relationships which support clients’ strategy.

4. Are you too out for yourself?

Aren’t we brilliant generally at concealing motive?

If you want to examine hidden motives behind online interfaces, then check out dark patterns. We don’t trust people when they don’t seem to be making relationship an important criteria. This doesn’t mean you have to go all touchy feely – just pay heed to online retailing copy that’s too ‘salesy’, or slight discomfort at clients opening up preventing you listening fully to what they have to say.

More on all this to follow.

Mrs Motivator’s back as this site still gets fair traffic, so am guessing you don’t want me to retire…

Or maybe you even trust me?

By szcz

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