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When you open your doors as a small business– be they literal or metaphorical – then you take on responsibilities. You take on the responsibility for your own livelihood and ability to make a living, of course, but that’s just the beginning. Most importantly, you take on the responsibility of your customers, of being able to meet their needs and do the things that you claim to be able to do.
That’s quite a big ask, especially if you have relatively little experience dealing with the hopes and expectations of a client base. If you want your business to succeed, then it’s imperative that you understand the trust your clients place in you and your company could be the thing that makes or breaks you.
So how can you reassure customers that you are trustworthy and that their information is safe in your hands?
When customers and clients hand over their information to you, you have to treat it as being incredibly valuable. Even if it’s fairly basic details like their home address and their phone number; it’s still information that many of us jealously guard.
Always ensure that before you discuss anything with them, you conduct a series of identity checks to make sure you are speaking to the right person. Even if you know them and recognize them, it’s still smart to go through this process. How else can they trust that you’re taking care of their data and information if you don’t show them exactly the policies that you have in mind? So apologise for the disruption, run through the checks you need, and then proceed to discuss their issue.
One of the worst things you can do is to take their data – even something as benign as their email address – and use it against them. If you sell their data on or use their information for your own invasive marketing purposes, then you’re going to quickly erode any trust they might have ever had in your company.
It might seem like a strange necessity, but you do have to ensure that you are honest with your clients. If they ask for something that you can’t do, don’t flub it and assume you’ll figure it out as you go along. Say you don’t know how to do it upfront, but you’re willing to try and find a solution.
Furthermore, if you assign a deadline for a project and then realize that you’re going to miss it, make sure your client is kept in the loop. If you give advance warning that you might be late, they will be far more likely to accept it. Don’t think it’s safer to ask for forgiveness rather than permission; this is a business relationship, and that means they should be kept in touch with what’s happening for the entire duration of the transaction.
When trust has been built, you have the basis for a strong working relationship with a client you will hopefully work with for years to come. Just ensure you stick to the principles of maintaining that trust, and you won’t go far wrong.