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With fake news, data breaches and what feels like a new scam alert daily, we’re no longer the trusting souls we used to be and have moved into an era of distrust. Why is this important when it comes to clients? It’s important because we need our clients to trust us.
Trust is the foundation to building long-lasting relationships, which, as we know, is good for retaining clients and for business. The way we achieve that trust is through transparency. In my industry – the fast-moving property space – transparency is paramount to success.
In a survey conducted by Sprout Social, 86 per cent of people believe transparency from businesses is more important than ever before. The survey also revealed when brands are transparent and develop a history of transparency, nearly nine in ten people are more likely to give them second chances after a bad experience, and 85 per cent are more likely to stick with them during crises.
The two most important elements when it comes to transparency are honesty and integrity, which also includes not overpromising. Promising a client the world and then not delivering is the quickest way to lose their trust and possibly an ongoing client. Set realistic expectations on what you will achieve, be it a project length/time factor, a cost factor or any aspect of your service offerings. Be open and honest about your action plan and keep your client up-to-date with regular communication on how the scope of the job or project is tracking.
A good example of transparency and keeping clients up to date is how we can now track nearly everything we purchase online. We can openly see when our parcel was dispatched, taken to a distribution centre, in transit and the estimated delivery date. In most cases, gone are the days of having to chase vendors asking when our delivery will arrive.
Keep clients updated
Being transparent also includes updating your client/s before they check in on you for an update. When you know a client wants an answer, don’t wait for the client to ask the question, be proactive and on the front foot with communication. Even if you don’t have the answer they’re waiting for, let them know where you are on to your side of things. This shows that you understand your client and their needs and that you’re open with your communication. Also, if you’re not sure what a client means by something they have put in an email, pick up the phone and seek classification. Don’t assume you know what they want if you’re not sure what they mean.
Honesty is still the best policy
If you make a mistake, be honest about it. Being honest is part of being a good communicator and also shows you are transparent, trustworthy and have integrity. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. Being honest stops the snowball effect as you can generally only hide a mistake for so long, and when you do come clean, the problem is likely bigger than when you first noticed it. Don’t ghost your client’s either if there’s a problem; nothing positive comes of this. Put yourself in your clients shoes and think about how you would like to be treated if the situation was reversed.
Understand your client’s perspective
Remember, behind every job, behind every business, is a person. Be empathic with your clients and listen to what they’re saying or perhaps not saying. If you’re not sure why they’re making a specific or unusual demand, pick up the phone and talk to them – ask questions. Their client may be placing specific demands on them. Once understand where they’re coming from, you will both be on the same page, you will be able to meet their needs better, and you will be in a better position to add value for your client. Through your experience, you may also be able to come up with an alternative solution they may not have thought of.
One step ahead
One measure that does go a long way with gaining and maintaining your clients’ trust and respect is being one step ahead of them. Being one step ahead of your clients shows that you’ve listened, you understand their needs, and you are a genuine stakeholder in their business. When a client sees you as more of an extension of their business, rather than just a supplier or contractor, everyone wins.