Customer Relationships: Building Trust

Identifying the challenges of customer contact. Being successful in the face-to-face meeting. Establishing close communication with the customer. Restoring the balance in sensitive situations.

Customer Relationships: Building Trust
Customer Relationships: Building Trust

Content Summary

Objectives
Welcome
Issues involved in customer interactions
Establishing a close connection with the customer
Fostering cooperation in sensitive situations
Conclusion
Key Message

Objectives

At the end of this module, you will be able to apply best practices, in order to be recognized by the customer as a reliable interlocutor.

You will know:

  • How to enhance the image of your company and coworkers by giving your customer—and leaving them with—a good impression.
  • How to establish a close connection with the customer, by adjusting to customers’ different ways of thinking and operating.
  • How to identify your position in the customer interaction, in order to better manage sensitive situations.

Welcome

Trust is a necessary condition for customer relations; it is difficult to do lasting business with a supplier you do not trust!

Customer trust cannot be forced; it must be earned. It is through you, and thanks to you, that the customer builds trust in their supplier.

Successfully fostering a relationship of trust with customers requires understanding a few secrets:

  1. Identify the issues involved in a trusting relationship
  2. Establish a close connection with the customer
  3. Re-establish harmony in interaction during sensitive situations

Issues involved in customer interactions

Introduction

You will learn…

  • What makes customers satisfied
  • Steps to follow to satisfy the two needs of a customer
  • Three resources for customer contact
  • How the image created by your quality of service is formed

Reconciling operative and relational goals

In customer interactions, quality of service means assisting the customer in satisfying their two needs.

Operative Objective: Satisfying the operative needs of the customer:

That which the customer concretely needs in order to resolve their problem in real terms, and which their supplier is capable of providing (a piece of information, a product, a service, etc.). Operative needs are generally related to the reason the customer has contacted us.

Your role: To help the customer resolve their problem.

Relational Objective: Satisfying the relational needs of the customer:

They need to feel welcomed, accepted, acknowledged, and validated as an individual/customer over the course of the conversation. Relational needs are generally related to the atmosphere of the interaction.

Your role: To provide the customer with a pleasant exchange.

Operative satisfaction + Relational satisfaction: Meeting both expectations of the customer

This entails handling the customer’s problem while cultivating as pleasant an atmosphere as possible for them.

Keep in mind these two axes, operative and relational, in order to assist the customer in resolving their problem.

Operative satisfaction + Relational satisfaction: Meeting both expectations of the customer
Operative satisfaction + Relational satisfaction: Meeting both expectations of the customer

Steps to follow in order to satisfy both expectations of the customer

Interactions with customers are conducted in 5 steps:

  1. Connect with the Person
  2. Note the Customer’s Needs
  3. Meet their Expectations
  4. Strengthen the Customer Relationship
  5. Fulfill the Promise

Each step in a customer interaction lays the foundation for the next step’s success.

Connect with the Person: Meeting the person means initiating a positive exchange by welcoming the customer as an individual.

Note the Customer’s Needs: Having previously established a relationship that encourages the customer to express themselves, the customer contact proceeds to the second steps, noting the customer’s needs, which makes it possible to accurately and comprehensively assess the situation.

Meet their Expectations: Involves giving a relevant response to the customer after assessing the need to be satisfied.

Strengthen the Customer Relationship: Entails reinforcing the relationship between the customer and the company by having previously met their expectations.

Fulfill the Promise: This means earning the customer’s continued loyalty by following up on their requests. updating the company’s information system, etc. It is absolutely essential to follow all 5 steps in order to fulfill the promise of service the company makes to its customers.

Steps to follow in order to satisfy both expectations of the customer
Steps to follow in order to satisfy both expectations of the customer

The three keys to Customer Relations

Successfully conducting an interaction with the customer relies on three levers for success: your commitment, your empathy, and your understanding.

Commitment is: Devoting one’s energy and resources to satisfying the operative needs of the customer.

Empathy: Orienting one’s energy and resources toward the emotional satisfaction of the customer.

Understanding: Thinking before acting, in order to evaluate the situation. Identifying and preparing one’s resources before acting.

These three levers are not mutually exclusive; indeed, they work best together! It is important to know how to demonstrate both commitment and empathy while also understanding the situation.

The image created by your quality of service

The company’s image depends on how wide the gap is between the service expected, the service provided, and the service that is perceived.

The image created by your quality of service
The image created by your quality of service

Quality defined: “At this stage, the company defines its standards of service, a process, or rules for accommodating customers, in order to meet customer expectations.” Example: The company promises quotes by telephone and by mail, within 24 hours.

Quality expected by customers: “The company studies customers’ expectations with regard to service. What are their operative needs? What are their relational needs?” Example: The customer wants a quote sent by mail within 24 hours.

Quality provided: “Customer contacts provide the customer with the service promised by their company.” Example: The quote reaches the customer by mail, 48 hours later.

Quality perceived by the customer: “The customer perceives, in their own way, the quality of the service provided by the company and its employees.” Example: The customer is probably telling themselves: “They’re not very professional!”

Points to remember

In order to satisfy customers and earn their loyalty, you must:

  • Respond to customers’ concrete needs and problems.
  • Forge and strengthen relations with people.
  • Provide a professional image to the customer.

A professional image and high-quality service are essential for gaining the trust and loyalty of the customer.

Establishing a close connection with the customer

Introduction

To identify how other people think, note the importance of…

  • Identifying your interlocutor’s way of thinking
  • Attuning your attitudes and behaviors to your interlocutor’s

Identifying your interlocutor’s way of thinking

We do not address every situation in the same way. Imagine that you are going to be presented with a new product at a new supplier. What passes through your mind at the start of the meeting?

Check the correct response.

Would I like to work with them?

A. I hope that we can quickly move on to action.

B. I’m eager to see how this works…

C. “This place is so pretty and nice, it feels comfortable here!” or in contrast, “I don’t know why, but I don’t like this place!”

D. I hope they’ve got a WiFi hotspot so I can send my report.

Correct Answer:

A. I hope that we can quickly move on to action.

Answer Description:

Each person has their own preferred area of interest (People, Activities, Information, Places, and Things). This is the data that we value the most in any given situation. Each person gives varying priority to each aspect of reality.

We each have a potentially different way of understanding the world. For example, imagine that you are going by car to this supplier you don’t know. What would be your first thought on how to get there?

Check the response that best matches your profile.

A. “I should be able to get there with a map.”

B. “I’ll make myself a detailed itinerary with all the villages that are on the way.”

Correct Answer:

A. “I should be able to get there with a map.”

Answer Description:

You probably have a broad frame of understanding.
There are two frames of understanding: broad and detailed.
Identifying a customer’s frame of understanding allows you to align yourself with how they operate and thereby convince them more easily. Between two qualified competitors, the one who is best able to identify how their interlocutor operates and translate it into their language and behavior will become their first choice.

Attuning your attitudes and behaviors to your interlocutor’s

Techniques for attuning yourself to the customer are a powerful means of establishing a connection. Here is a first example to test your ability to attune yourself to the customer. How would you respond to a hesitant customer?

A. I reassure them

B. I ask them questions

C. I rephrase their uncertainties

Correct Answer:

C. I rephrase their uncertainties

Answer Description:

By rephrasing their uncertainties, you are showing them that you understand them. Attuning yourself to your interlocutor doesn’t mean doing a perfect imitation of them, but simply accommodating them.

Here is a second example. How would you respond to a customer who is shouting at post-sales customer service?

A. I raise my voice to demonstrate my determination.

B. I speak softly.

C, I shout, just as they are doing.

Correct Answer:

A. I raise my voice to demonstrate my determination.

Answer Description:

By slightly raising my voice, I am showing my concern while continuing to express support and sympathy.
It is necessary to temporarily adapt to the mood of the conversation. After a few minutes, you will be able to exhibit more cheerfulness and carefully guide the other person toward another state of mind.

And here is a third and final example. How would you respond to an inflexible and meticulous customer?

A. I adopt a laid back attitude.

B. I adopt a formal and/or procedural attitude.

C. I remain distant.

Correct Answer:

B. I adopt a formal and/or procedural attitude.

Answer Description:

By adopting a more formal behavior, you are demonstrating your readiness to delve into the details. By attuning yourself to the customer’s behavior, you are saying to them, “I am like you.” This makes the interaction more pleasant for both parties and encourages the customer to trust you.

Points to remember

The connection between two people is close when their ways of operating are similar. Techniques for attuning yourself to the customer are a powerful aide. Attuning yourself to your interlocutor doesn’t mean doing a perfect imitation of them, but simply accommodating their mood, their way of thinking, what interests them, etc.

Fostering cooperation in sensitive situations

Introduction

In order to employ effective behaviors in interactions with the customer, take into account…

  • Your position in the interaction
  • Cooperative behaviors

Your position in the customer interaction

The Life Positions grid is a concept developed by Transactional Analysis. This diagram depicts the general mental pictures we form about ourselves in relation to others.

Fostering cooperation in sensitive situations
Fostering cooperation in sensitive situations

DOMINATION, OK – NOT OK: This position is ineffective. it amounts to unrealistically believing you are superior to others, by focusing particularly on their negative qualities. It represents a lack of insight and indicates that you only hold excessively negative opinions of others. A person in this position is misjudging the relationship of power and influence between them and their interlocutor. They are misjudging their ability to help others. Finally, they are misjudging their chances of convincing others. They believe they are stronger than they really are.

COOPERATION, OK – OK: This is the only effective position. It amounts to being OK with yourself and with others. In indicates that you have an insightful and realistic opinion of what may be positively shared in the interaction and that you have formed a proper mental picture of the situation. A person in this position is easily capable of forming positive judgments and opinions. The interaction becomes more and more positive as it moves from one instance of positive cooperation to another.

RESIGNATION, NOT OK – NON OK: This position is ineffective. It amounts to believing you are NOT OK, and that other people are likewise NOT OK. It indicates that you believe you are in a hostile, negative environment and are incapable of coping, as you focus solely on the negative qualities of yourself and others. This position is the least common but may arise at certain difficult times, and it may be useful to recognize this when it happens. This is the most burdensome and least productive Life Position.

SUBMISSION, NOT OK – OK: This position is ineffective. It amounts to believing you are NOT OK and that others are superior to you. It indicates that you unrealistically see yourself as inferior to others, by focusing particularly on your own negative qualities. A person in this position imagines they have weaknesses that they do not actually have. “Other people are much better than me…” They believe they have less power than they actually have. They see themselves as powerless to act, help, or persuade. They believe they are weaker than they really are.

Collaboration with the customer will be successful if it is based on realistic judgments and opinions.
An interaction goes well when each person fulfills their role in the interaction: the customer in their status as a customer, you in your status as a supplier.

In a delicate situation, ask yourself whether the position you are adopting is the source of the difficulties you are encountering.

Cooperative behaviors

To develop an OK – OK position with your customers, find out more about this position’s characteristics.

Communication: Communicate openly, with clarity and empathy.

Commitment: Readily accepts their responsibilities. Likes it when there is competition involved in their objectives.

Conflicts: Handles disagreements by seeking clarification and the mutual resolution of problems.

Resolution of problems: Resolves problems by consulting others and trusting themselves.

Use of time: Spends their time being efficiently productive and doing what needs to be done.

Proactiveness: Acts according to the established program or on their own initiative, depending on the situation.

Position: Senses they are on an equal footing while properly understanding actual differences in terms of skills and power.

Criticisms and compliments: Accepts a rebuke while seeing what they can learn from it. Knows how to give and receive a compliment, and likes doing so.

Points to remember

To successfully play your role, even in difficult situations, rely on the behaviors that convey your professional commitment and spirit of cooperation:

  • Ask questions, listen, observe, and rephrase, while still being matter-of-fact.
  • Attune yourself to the customer.
  • Communicate with clarity and empathy.
  • Maintain perspective and concentrate on possible solutions.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of each solution.
  • Accept criticisms and compliments.

Conclusion

Customer trust must be earned and developed over time.

It relies on:

  • On the professional image promoted by the service provided
  • On the human connection that is established in each interaction.

To establish a relationship of trust with your customers:

  • Conduct the interaction with professionalism.
  • Fulfill your company’s promise of service.
  • Attune yourself to each customer in order to provide them with an atmosphere of familiarity.

Key Message

Introduction

“Trust is a necessary condition for customer relations; it is difficult to do lasting business with a supplier you do not trust!

Customer trust cannot be forced; it must be earned.

It is through you, and thanks to you, that the customer builds trust in their supplier.

Successfully fostering a relationship of trust with customers requires understanding a few secrets.

Issues involved in customer interactions

In order to satisfy customers and earn their loyalty, you must:

  • Respond to customers’ concrete needs and problems.
  • Forge and strengthen relations with people.
  • Provide a professional image to the customer.

A professional image and high-quality service are essential for gaining the trust and loyalty of the customer.

Establishing a close connection with the customer

The connection between two people is close when their ways of operating are similar.
Techniques for attuning yourself to the customer are a powerful aide. Attuning yourself to your interlocutor doesn’t mean doing a perfect imitation of them, but simply accommodating their mood, their way of thinking, what interests them, etc.

Fostering cooperation in sensitive situations

To successfully play your role, even in difficult situations, rely on the behaviors that convey your professional commitment and spirit of cooperation:

  • Ask questions, listen, observe, and rephrase, while still being matter-of-fact.
  • Attune yourself to the customer.
  • Communicate with clarity and empathy.
  • Maintain perspective and concentrate on possible solutions.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of each solution.
  • Accept criticisms and compliments.

Conclusion

Customer trust must be earned and developed over time.

It relies on:

  • On the professional image promoted by the service provided
  • On the human connection that is established in each interaction.

To establish a relationship of trust with your customers:

  • Conduct the interaction with politeness, empathy, and professionalism.
  • Fulfill your company’s promise of service.
  • Attune yourself to each customer in order to provide them with an atmosphere of familiarity. The conversation will thus be made easier for you.

Published by Silvia Emma

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