Developing Customer Loyalty With Trust

Rick Roberge raises some great discussion questions in a recent article concerning customer loyalty. In the world of Information Technology, I place an extremely high value on the development of customer loyalty. While I won't attempt to provide a long-winded definition of what customer loyalty is, I will propose that the largest component of developing it in my business is developing trust. I have developed my personal list of trust aspects below:

  1. Trust in your business practices - Your customers want to feel secure in making a buying decision. They want to be assured that they're getting what they're paying for. In my humble opinion, your customer wants to know that your company works for them. Be upfront in your business practices and how your customer fits into your business model. Answer the tough questions about your business to make your customer feel secure in their investment. I find that many people miss this important fact: when your customer makes a decision to buy, they're not just investing in your product - they're investing in the way you do business.
  2. Trust in your people - Your people make your business practices work. Show your customers that your team cares about carrying them out. Introduce the team to your customers and take pride in those that make your business run. Develop trust in your offering by demonstrating your own confidence in your people's ability to deliver it. I'm a firm believer that every customer should have a single point of contact such as an account representative, but introducing the account's team helps put faces to function.
  3. Trust in your product offering - This is often the most prominent aspect in making a sale, but not necessarily developing trust. Your product gets your foot in the door, but alone it doesn't develop a long-term trust relationship. I include it here because your customer looking for a better deal is a natural and understandable occurrence. Continue to maintain and enhance your product so that you can stay ahead of your competition. Show the value in your product and how it outweighs that of your competitors.
The aspects and their respective priorities can vary based on industry and your target customer, but all aspects of trust boil down to one thing: honesty. Be open and aboveboard. Once your customer has realized you've violated their trust, you can bet their confidence in your product goes way down. The development of business relationships are not unlike personal ones. If you're initially well liked and trusted, dishonesty is the only way to ruin a solid trust relationship.