Whether you are talking about a customer relationship or employee relations, there is an essential element that must be part of your customer service culture, and that is trust. For a business to be successful, management must trust employees, employees must trust management, and customers must trust the company. The “Three Legged Stool” theory can be applied to this situation. Essentially, if you have a stool with three legs and one of the legs is removed, the stool will fall over. Similarly, if one of these three groups mistrusts another, the chance for true customer loyalty is destined to fail.
So, what could cause mistrust among the three groups? An outright lie, of course, but there are other ways to erode confidence as well. People in one group must believe that they can count on the others. Also, does the system always work? If not, doubt can creep in – that nagging thought that something will go wrong.
Can the customers be confident in the company? Will they always receive good service or information – in other words, do they trust the company will do a good job? Also, do they believe in the value and integrity of the company?
From the managers’ point of view, can they be confident that the employees will do a good job?
From the employees’ viewpoint, do they believe that management trusts them?
Years ago, I worked at an auto parts store. I came to the job not knowing much about auto parts, but shortly after I started, the owner put me in charge when he went away for a weekend. I made mistakes, but that didn’t diminish the experience for me. The owner trusted me to use my best judgment – it was a great learning experience as well as a real confidence booster. As for my mistakes, he helped me to learn from them and continued to entrust me with the care of his business when he was away.
Ace Hardware CEO John Venhuizen put it like this: “Every time a customer walks through our doors, that customer is trusting our associates (employees) to help them to solve a problem, and to buy the right product. Possibly, that solution we come up with involves the home where their kids sleep every night. Now, whenever you accept advice from someone about what you’re supposed to do in order to protect and take care of your home, that’s a significant leap of faith. That means the level of trust and emotional connection that associate needs to be able to build up with the customer is huge. By the same token, the trust and emotional connection the store owner builds up with the associates has to be pretty huge too. So, we know that in order to win that high level of trust with the consumer, we have to establish a trusting relationship with the employee first.”
Trust is an essential element in business relationships. It must exist between the customer and the company, as well as between management and employees. Without trust, the customer experience and employee experience lack confidence. In business, trust is a must!