Magazine article CRM Magazine

The (Priceless) Value of Trust: Building Customer Relationships One Insight, One Interaction, and One Experience at a Time

Magazine article CRM Magazine

The (Priceless) Value of Trust: Building Customer Relationships One Insight, One Interaction, and One Experience at a Time

Article excerpt

THE OVERLY aggressive salesperson is a stereotype with which we're all familiar. Suave, smooth-talking, and out to dupe you into paying more than you might otherwise for a product or service. You may trust the product or service you want to buy, yet you have trouble trusting the person trying to sell it to you.

In business, as in life, trust is a coveted commodity. It is hard to earn and can be lost in a heartbeat. In the past, companies built customer trust through personal relationships. The local butcher, baker, and candlestick maker, through a series of in-person interactions, established a rapport with their customers. They learned what their customers liked and how best to please them. Quality and price were always a consideration, yet often it was the remembrance of small details--the preferred thickness of a customer's porterhouse steak, the extra drizzle of chocolate on the croissant, or the favored length of a wick--that earned their customers' trust and kept them coming back.

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As small local enterprises gave way to large corporations, mass production, economies of scale, and big box retail chain models, the focus on building trusted relationships was lost. Companies began instead to concentrate on increasing operational efficiencies and shareholder value, and outsourced their customer relationships to call centers in low-cost jurisdictions. The move provided bottom-line savings, yet alienated large numbers of customers, who felt betrayed by the depersonalized interactions, diminished level of customer service, and apparent lack of corporate interest in building or maintaining a valuable trusted relationship.

And then there is the aggressive salesperson example. Look at automobile manufacturers, who have spent decades investing in amazing driving experiences. From making leather interiors and heated seats standard features to building cars that park themselves to offering state-of-the-art safety innovations, automakers have been designing cars specifically with the customer experience in mind. Despite the extraordinary efforts manufacturers put into getting customers to trust their product, many of those customers still feel trepidation and intimidation as they make their way through the buying experience.

In today's golden age of technology, customers are back in the driver's seat--and they are demanding more. …

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