Every day, the actions and inactions of companies are resulting in certain outcomes for their customers. A business that genuinely cares about the outcomes it creates is one that has its customers’ best interests at heart. A critical outcome that many businesses, especially in financial services, seek to achieve is Customer Trust.
Several research studies confirm that trust strongly correlates with perceived reliability. Those endeavouring to increase customers’ levels of trust need to know how to increase their reliability as a company and the customer’s perceptions thereof. Aside from managing customer perceptions, for now let’s look at four essential pillars of company reliability:
- Value (which is not only a function of competitive product pricing but also ease of doing business)
- Intentions to do only good, never any harm, to customers (which includes behaving with integrity and honesty)
The first three pillars are commonly known and receive due attention from leaders committed to improving customer experience. The fourth, however, seems to elude some and justifies greater emphasis. While I am passionate about the first three, it is this last one that I want to impress upon you.
I have seen numerous companies driving hard to build customer trust (which we know is fundamental to customer loyalty) yet insufficiently establishing the fourth pillar. This is not because they did not have good intentions. On the contrary, their intentions were nothing short of honourable. So, what’s the problem? Three things:
- They did not have a thorough, systematic approach to ensuring that good intentions translated into good business practice in every process throughout the business that has consequences for the customer.
- They did not proactively look for opportunities to make the customer feel that they “had their back” – that the company truly looked after the customer’s best interests.
- Even though they had good arguments supporting how certain actions were good for customers, insufficient time was given to asking the harder questions: In what way could this action lead to poor customer outcomes? Where are we not taking action and such inaction is resulting in a less-than-ideal outcome for the customer? Where are we turning a blind eye to that which could be better? If our customers knew everything we said and did, in budget decisions, in closed-door meetings, what would we be embarrassed about? Where are we benefitting while potentially causing customer disadvantage?
In the financial services industry, many across the globe will be familiar with the term Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) or some similar variation expressed through Market Conduct and/or Conduct Culture. Central to TCF is the four elements listed earlier that are important in company reliability. Given that company reliability and customer trust are prerequisites to the success of many industries, I would encourage more firms to adopt the principles of TCF.
I have had the privilege of working with great business leaders committed to raising their companies to a higher standard: to become more purpose-driven and values-aligned. We have worked tirelessly at embedding good business practices, designing proactive trust-building opportunities, and getting answers to the difficult questions. They have benefited from the advice, guidance, tools and training that Brilliance provides to help them consistently do good, not harm, for their customers.
As leaders, let’s do what it takes to measurably improve the trust and hence the lives of our customers. The business returns speak for themselves.
Brilliance has specialised knowledge and experience in customer trust. Have a look at our Customer Trust Builder Tool and tailored training we can provide for you on Building Customer Trust. We’d love to see you expand your success in looking out for your customers’ best interests.