Building Trust Is a Process

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Trust doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it accumulates over time. Building trust is well worth the effort, though, particularly in the relationships companies have with their employers and their customers. After all, people want to work for and buy from companies and brands with which they feel a connection. Building trust is a worthwhile endeavor for any company—and following these five principles can help it achieve that goal.

Be authentic and transparent. Trust starts here: authenticity and transparency lay the foundation for everything that follows. Honesty is not always easy, but it is always the best policy when it comes to building trust through experiences and actions.

Show your human side. Without the humans who work behind the scenes, a company is little more than a bucket of widgets and a balance sheet. Connect your customers to the human side of your business by sharing stories about how the organization has affected people’s lives or about the employees who make the company’s work happen.

Personalize all communication. My wife and I made our first visit to a new neighborhood restaurant a few months ago, and while waiting for our table we decided to get a drink at the bar, which was very crowded at the time. As soon as the bartender noticed us, he came over and introduced himself by name, shook our hands, and asked our names. Fifteen minutes later, when he told us that our table was ready, he said, “Mike, Addy—it was great meeting both of you. I had your tab transferred to your table. Please come again.” And we did. The fact that the bartender remembered the names of patrons on a very busy evening made a very positive and powerful impression on my wife and me.

Own your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. But most people are judged more not on the mistakes they make but on how they react immediately after making them. Saying “I was wrong” and then doing everything in your power to right that wrong can go a long way toward building goodwill and trust in both life and business.

Listen to and act on feedback. If you’ve ever given feedback to a company and felt frustrated when that message seemed to fall on deaf ears, then you know exactly how you don’t want your own employees and customers to feel. Think of each and every piece of feedback you get from internal and external customers as a gift that presents you with an opportunity both to identify and improve on weaknesses and to learn what’s working so you can spread that success to other areas of the business.

Trust should never be assumed; rather, it must always be earned. Through trust, people achieve a feeling of safety and confidence in a company, because they know that it will do the right thing for them (as customers or as employees), for the environment, for the shareholders, and for anyone or anything else that can be affected by the organization’s actions. By building trust, companies can deepen and strengthen the connections they have with both their employees and their clients.