The key to building successful client relationships is trust. It allows for an open dialogue between you and your clients and gives you the freedom to think creatively and produce your best work.
But trust isn’t a given; it’s earned through behavior. The old expression: “show, don’t tell” is a perfect illustration of this point; it’s one thing to tell a client to trust you, but it’s quite another to demonstrate that you’re trustworthy.
Let’s take a look into some ways you can effectively show (not tell) your clients that you’re worthy of their trust.
Showcase Testimonials & Reviews
A powerful way to build trust at the beginning of a client relationship is to showcase any testimonials and positive reviews, letting your past successes speak for themselves.
Testimonials will demonstrate to both new and prospective clients how you perform, the quality of work you’re capable of, and the types of clients you’ve worked with without you having to toot your own horn.
Make a habit of asking clients to write you a testimonial when they’ve been happy with
your services, or, if it’s easier, offer to write one on their behalf and ask for their approval. This way you’ll continually have fresh reviews and perpetuate a cycle of positive work experiences.
Ultimately, your clients want to feel as if you’re on their side, and one of the best ways to demonstrate this is through transparency. That means being open and honest and “letting your clients in,” so to speak.
It doesn’t mean you need to share your life story, but it does mean you should be upfront about anything that would be immediately relevant to them, such as pricing policies and standard operating procedures. The more open you are, the more likely they’ll be to trust you.
But transparency isn’t just about being honest when everything is running as it should, it’s just as important (if not more so) to be transparent when mistakes crop up. Don’t hide behind your errors, make excuses, or place blame. Instead, address any issues head on and use these instances as an opportunity to deliver the highest level of customer service by swiftly rectifying the problem.
Clients will respect your honesty and have a reason to trust you in the future.
Consistency is key in building client relationships based on trust. By keeping your actions consistent, clients won’t be left guessing; they’ll always know exactly what to expect from you and when they can expect it.
You should be diligent about delivering consistency across the board: whether that’s in terms of performance, service offerings, or even something as simple as your hours of operation.
Address their Pain Points
Ultimately, clients come to you because they have a problem that they want you to solve, and this poses an opportunity for you to help relieve their pain points.
It starts by simply listening. What are the things they struggle with? What keeps them up at night? Think through their challenges and how you can be the solution.
Sometimes this may involve digging a little deeper, as the client may not always explicitly share their challenges. A great way to build trust is to be clued into implicit information, and then fix a problem they’ve had before they’ve even put a name to it.
The idea is to make yourself invaluable; once they see that you are capable of giving them what they need, you'll become their go-to source and they’ll have no reason to go to your competitors.
Keep Your Commitments
Think about the last time someone said they were going to do something that they didn’t follow through on. Did you trust them after that? Likely not.
Well, it’s exactly the same for your clients, so don’t promise them anything you’re unable to deliver on. Remember, trust is based upon demonstrating trustworthy behavior, so always follow through on your commitments.
If you’re unclear on whether you’ll have the time, resources, or manpower to meet a request, don’t blindly say yes. Know your capabilities and your limits. Sometimes this means telling your clients no so as not to bite off more than you can chew, but it’s always better to under promise and over-deliver than the other way around.
By continuing to demonstrate trustworthy behavior, you’ll build up a healthy roster of clients and give them good reason to go to bat for you when the time comes.