Perception–they way your customers and other stakeholders see you–affects whether they do business with you or not. At times perception does not match reality, and at times it does. Businesses and organizations should strive to have positive perceptions, and to have the reality match with the perception.
If a business is perceived to be unethical, for instance, customers will think twice about being tainted by association. But on the other hand, if a business is perceived as trustworthy, customers will feel better about providing their credit card numbers.
How do you make sure your customers have a good perception of you? According to Christopher Elliot on Bnet.com there are “5 Wasy to Earn A Customer’s Trust.” These include:
- Live up to your promises
- Be available for customer interaction
- Listen to your customers (surveys are a great way to do this)
- Always be ethical
People prefer doing business with people (organizations) they trust. Trust is earned, but if you are perceived as unethical or unreliable, you will not be building trust based relationships with your customers.
Trying to create a perception of trust that is not backed by reality will backfire. Take a look at any of the scandals that involved unethical actions of the main players (ENRON, Bernie Madoff, etc.). People trusted these organizations and individuals–in some cases with large sums of money–only to find that in reality, things were not as they seemed. The damage was deep and long-lasting.
If your customers perceive your services to be not trustworthy, they will also not trust your customer service. This creates a whole slew of problems, including a downgrade of employee morale and will eventually impact your bottom line.