No matter what industry you’re in, there is really only one thing that will dictate your success. That one thing is people.
Whether it be your clients or customers, your partners, stakeholders, shareholders, or staff- your (or the companies) relationship with people has an enormous impact on the success you may find. In our experience working not only in insurance but as trusted advisors and friends to our clients and business partners, we have learnt a lot about the defining factor in developing strong interpersonal relationships – Trust.
Trust is often a term that marketing teams throw around when developing brand strategies and communication plans to encourage an audience to engage and resonate with a business. However, there is more to it than merely stating “you can trust us”. Unfortunately, we can’t ask for trust and expect it to be given, trust needs to be earned.
So how can you create an influential and trusted business? Let us give you some tips to start the process.
- Do what you say you will
This seems like an easy promise to make, but reliability is becoming rare in a professional environment. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, it is easy to think that we need to promise the world to make our clients and customers happy. However, what this may mean is that you are over-promising what you can achieve, likely putting more pressure on yourself and inevitably letting down your customer, your team and yourself.
You would be surprised how your customers may react to you being honest about workloads, timeline and expectations. It will likely be a breath of fresh air to them to have someone advise them of what’s possible rather than taking instructions unquestioning.
Reliability is just as important for little tasks as well, if you say that you will email someone within a particular time frame, make sure you stick to it. If you say you will help them out with a task, do this as well. If in doubt, under-promise and over-deliver, this will help you seem more reliable in the eyes of your customers, and over time this will hold you in good stead with building trust.
- Take the time to get to know them as human beings
It can be easy to fall in the trap of thinking ‘it’s just business’ which often means that emotional interaction is thrown out the window. Although we agree that sometimes business needs to be business, don’t forget that the people you are working with are human beings. Don’t be afraid to get to know them as individuals. You might be surprised by what you learn.
Fundamentally, building trust is about building relationships. We can do this through our marketing and our branding, but the catalyst will always be customer service. Trust takes time, but the more people relate to you and your business, the more you will see this trust grow.
- Actually listen
There’s no denying that 2020 has been a tough year for many businesses. During tough times it can be common for businesses to increase push tactics to try and encourage users to buy (for example, offering discounts, scare tactics, pushy sales tactics, listing products they have on offer). However, what we should be doing is taking the time to listen to our customers to discover their problems and how we can solve them. Few businesses take the time to request feedback and listen to what their customers are saying. You might be surprised what you might find by taking the time to listen, process and action feedback you receive.
An excellent example of this in our business (insurance broking) was during the pandemic, where many of our clients were pivoting models to remain competitive insurance management was not high on the list of urgent activities. However, we noticed a very distinct change in how businesses were being operated that could ultimately hurt our clients – this was the working from home movement.
So we did the research and uncovered information about business policies that many of our clients may not have been aware of, and we set about to help them. We wrote an article on what to look out for, posted this to all of our socials, and our brokers spoke personally to any customers (new and existing) who they feel may need some guidance in this area. Implementing this strategy came about because we genuinely want to help our clients, and it just so happens that by helping them, our business grew as well. This is trust-building marketing. It starts with the people.
- Be transparent and honest
If you’re not going to hit a deadline or you are unsure about something, speak up. We have all been in sticky situations where we don’t want to admit we don’t know something or that we have made a mistake. Having open and transparent (and sometimes uncomfortable) conversations are key to developing sound long-term relationships.
This is a cultural attitude that should be developed throughout your team as well. It can be challenging to build a culture of transparency and accountability, but the more you practice what you preach, the more you will see this develop. You will gain a reputation for being an honest person or brand to work with and hopefully see the referrals and word of mouth roll-in.
5. Don’t forget marketing
This could be a content series on its own, but alas, we are just going to touch on this today and maybe revisit in the future.
Firstly, encourage your customers to leave reviews. Don’t be afraid to ask for these either. If you know you have done an excellent job and your customers are happy, ask them politely if they wouldn’t mind leaving you a review. Social proof is one of the most powerful marketing techniques and is very often underutilised. Publish reviews on your website, your social platforms, on print collateral and in your email marketing.
Our second tip is always to respond and resolve constructive feedback and complaints. There is no point being defensive or ignoring these. The best solution is to demonstrate that you have done everything you can to resolve the issue professionally. It is inevitable in business that we will not be able to please everyone, but our audience is watching how we respond to these situations.
Lastly, stick to your brand guidelines. Marketers always speak about branding, and there is a reason for this. A professional and consistent brand will build brand equity over time. The term ‘brand equity’ refers to the value of your brand, but there is no value in a brand without brand trust. The more consumers know and trust your brand, the more brand equity you will have. So, invest in professional design, make sure you’re using a style guide and staying true to your brand.
For example, have you ever been to a website that had a poor design and looked unprofessional? Would you purchase from this business? Your brand is the first thing customers will see and should be reflected in all you do as a business. Think about how you want to be perceived and your brand guidelines around this goal.
The list here could go on, but hopefully, the tips given above have provided some inspiration and action points to help you in your business. With many industries slowing down due to the pandemic, building trust will help establish your business long term.
Although we specialise in Australian insurance, our insurance brokers work with all types of businesses, big and small, as trusted advisors. If you would like advice or an obligation risk assessment in your business, feel free to reach out to one of our insurance brokers. They are always happy to help where they can
Important Note: All insurance policies have exclusions. Please refer to the Product Disclosure Statement or Policy Wording to decide whether an insurance policy meets your needs.