Darren Fleming (pictured below) is a speaker, author and trainer who helps business people increase their influence and sales. He is the author of Don’t be a D!ck – creating connections that make influence happen. In his latest post for B&T, Fleming offers some sage advice if and when you get your customers offside..
The Banking Royal Commission has highlighted why many peopled don’t trust banks. While many people previously had an inkling that banks didn’t care about heir customers, now we have the proof. They have shattered the trust they had with the community and it will take a long time to repair.
Trust can be lost in small business too. When things go wrong and trust is damaged, it is how we react that tells your customers if you should be trusted again. Below are four tips to help you rebuild trust when it has been damaged.
- Fess up
It’s never fun to admit that you stuffed up, but to rebuild trust you have too. When you admit that you stuffed up it shows you’re strong enough, big enough and responsible enough to own your actions.
This includes buck-passing. It might seem easier to blame it on an internal staff member the customer never sees, or a supplier that could plausibly take the wrap. But this always comes back to bite you when you least expect it. Politicians come undone through this every time they deny their wrongdoing.
Owning when you have stuffed up gives an insight to your character and an indication if the aggrieved should trust you again.
- Show remorse and offer to make amends
Empathy is an emotion that helps us connect with each other. When I empathise with you, you see that I understand your position. That’s what remorse shows. When you show remorse it tells the aggrieved that you feel their pain. This helps with moving forward again.
Offering to make amends indicates that your remorse is genuine. It shows that you know they have been put out and want to make their situation better. It also gives you a chance to reduce the inevitable fall out.
- Cop it sweet
The reason most people dodge fessing up to their mistakes is they want to avoid the inevitable fall out. It’s a natural response to want to avoid discomfort.
But running from the ‘punishment’ robs the aggrieved of closure. Most business people just want restitution from any stuff-ups that have been made so they can move on. The punishment is their way of doing this.
In some instances punishment is about restitution – just making things right. This could be as simple as fixing the stuff up at your expense. Dropping off a box of beer, a bottle of wine or a bunch of flowers can also help with this.
In other instances the punishment is about compensation. Some people want to be compensated for how you have wronged them. This could include a discount off the next order. It may also mean letting the air clear before going back for more business. This could mean staying away for a period of time
Sometimes customers want compensation that seems over the top for what went wrong. In these instances it is more about them than about the wrong doing that happened. Sometimes you just have to walk away from these situations.
- Move on
There comes a time when you have to move on from what has happened. As Aldus Huxley said, “On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.”
If trust has been re-established moving on will simply mean taking the lessons from the mistake, forgetting about what happened and resuming normal business relations.
If trust can’t be re-established, it may mean walking away from the business. Many business owners think they want to work with everybody. They spend effort chasing an old customer who isn’t coming back over new customers who want to work with them. Working with an old customer who doesn’t respect you is bad for you.
If you remain servicing a customer who does not treat you as an equal partner to their business, then it hurts you. If they don’t see you as a partner in assisting their business, they will take advantage of you at every chance they get.
At the end of the day, trust is a two-way street. If you have done the above and they still don’t want to trust you, there is nothing you can do and you may be best to move on. It is up to each of us to decide of we will trust someone else.