When I want to learn something, there are usually hundreds of resources available for that topic. Or if I want to buy a product, there is generally more than one option available.
So how do I make my choice?
For a while, I thought that I am considering benefits versus price versus quality. I imagined that I am making a rational decision.
But that is not so.
Someone was also looking to learn about a topic, and they ask me about it. I told this person that there are likely many people on YouTube, teaching this way better than I ever could. But they did not want to learn from YouTube; they wanted my perspective and guidance on it.
I wondered why they would make this choice, when, at least in my mind, I was not the better option.
And it comes down to trust :). Very simply put: they know me, they trust me, and they like me. And they would prefer I show them what they need to learn, rather than some stranger on YouTube that they have no connection to.
Considering this, I realized that I do the same. I don’t act rationally at all. I much rather work with people I know, and I trust, even if they are not always the “best” at what I am looking for. When there is a connection, things are much easier.
Trust, connection, and familiarity sound like very personal concepts, but they apply in business. Each action that you take as a business can build or erode trust. And in today’s world of “clickbait” and “shortcuts,” trust is ever more scarce.
Building trust takes time. It requires empathy, the emotional labor of truly seeing the other, and serving your customer even if that means sending them to your competition. Yes, you may have lost a client, but you gained trust.
It also means keeping your promises even when it is difficult to do so. Especially then. And it means being open when you do break a promise, owing to the situation and not trying to hide it.
On a related note: online reviews are a tool that we sometimes use to determine if we can trust a vendor that we don’t have a relationship with yet.
This tool gives power to you, the consumer. You can express your gratitude at no extra cost to you by writing a praising review for the vendor. But you can also be vengeful and write a bad review. And we all know that bad reviews weigh more heavily than the good ones. For some reason, we feel they are more “honest.” So wield this power wisely.
Be generous with it, and don’t abuse it. Online reputation is hard to build and very easy to destroy.