5 Timeless Lessons in Customer Trust

How to turn a one-time purchase into a loyal customer relationship

Consumers are now more mobile, open to switching brands, and intolerant of poor customer experience than ever. What does it take to keep a customer coming back? In a word:

Trust…

But trust is tricky. It can’t be built in a day. But it can be destroyed forever in the span of one short call to customer service. With the recent announcement that legendary Zappos CEO and customer care champion Tony Hsieh was retiring, I’ve been reflecting on some of the timeless customer experience lessons that he famously championed at Zappos. Hsieh, who wrote the New York Times best seller, Delivering Happiness, is often described as someone who humanized the tech workplace. He proved that a positive, empowered, customer-centric culture is the key to delivering superior ROI.

Here are 5 key customer care leadership lessons we can all take from Hsieh’s experience.

  1. Build integrity into your brand

Today’s customers are highly sensitized to organizational trustworthiness. They expect – and they need – to see that the promises you make in an online ad or an email campaign are kept throughout every single interaction they have with you, from pre-purchase chatbot conversations, to ease of transaction, to every single call they make to your inbound customer care center. Disconnects are disconcerting. And inconsistency can be lethal to a customer relationship. Hsieh believed that defining customer service performance solely through efficiency and cost metrics inevitably creates teams that rush calls like widgets on an assembly line – and duck responsibility for issues. He insisted that all Zappos phone agents be hired, trained, and rewarded for taking care of customer issues, no matter what. When you commit to building trust by actually keeping your promises at every step in the customer experience, you build a lasting culture of trust, collaboration, and celebration.

  1. Train everyone on your customer care promise, not just your front line agents

You’re busy. And right now, you’re probably up to your eyebrows in leading the organization, pivoting and adapting through turbulent times, and oversee a successful year. But if you read that rule and think it doesn’t apply to you, I would suggest that you’re wrong. Nothing can give you keener insight into customer expectations, employee experience, and where you need to do better than stepping into your customer care agents’ shoes. Take the training. Take some calls. Regularly check back in. The insights you gain will shape a better business plan – and forever endear you to your troops.

  1. Constantly communicate your culture, internally and externally

The number of channels through which brand messaging can and does get communicated just keeps growing exponentially. But managing the messaging that flows through those channels is increasingly more complex. (And I’m not just talking about the very real challenges of juggling twitter, facebook, advertising, email, and website content.) I’m talking about how public forums have decreased your span of control over your own messaging. You might promise exceptional service. But one disgruntled customer can dismantle that promise with one viral complaint. The solution to this is to state your promise, live your promise, train to your promise, and trust that everyone on your team will make those promises come true. If something goes wrong, step up, tell the truth, and do everything in your power to put it right.

  1. Protect your customers’ data and privacy like it’s your own

Today’s customers are savvy. They understand that new security risks are always emerging. And they expect that the brand with which they do business is credible, trustworthy, and has totally invested in the technology, infrastructure, processes, and training to keep their data and privacy safe. But doing all of that is really only one small part of the equation. Train your customer care agents to understand how seriously you take these concerns and always display your credentials on your website. And again, if something goes wrong, don’t try to hide it or hide from it. Face it head on, publicly and with grace, apology, and a clear roadmap for resolution. A data breach might make for a bad headline. But a sloppy or apathetic response to it will make for catastrophe.

  1. Focus on the entire experience

Yes, product quality is important. But it’s little more than table stakes. Customers will stick with you and promote your brand if – and only if – they trust you. And as I said at the start, the road to unshakeable trust is a long one. Unfair as it all sounds, building trust requires that you do everything right. Breaking trust requires that you do just one thing wrong and fail to fix it. Customer experience is never the place to cut back. It’s where reputations are made. Back in the day, when Zappos was a footwear-only company, Tony Hsieh described the organization as “a service company that just happens to sell shoes.” Then he poured the company’s energy, time, and money into making sure that the voices on the phone delivered a stellar customer experience every time.

At Skybridge Americas, we provide stellar customer experience by embracing each customer’s mission and delivering on their brand promise. If you would like to know more about how we can help you increase your customer experience ROI, please reach out. We would love to talk!

-Bobby Matthews

Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Skybridge Americas
bmatthews@skybridgeamericas.com


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