When many professionals think about building client relationships and creating trust, they usually default to thinking about their organization’s Customer Success department(s). But what about other teams at your company, such as sales, marketing, and product management? What role do each play in cultivating trust and facilitating client relationships?
Establishing Trust through Marketing
From the moment prospects visit your website, they begin noting items such as what you say about your product (which they will later compare to your product’s actual functionality in demos and/or trials), the testimonials and case studies you share, the logos of clients who currently or have previously used your product, awards or press you have received and the like. Beyond these items, prospective customers pay attention to things such as the accessibility of your contact information -- was it easy to find or did they have to drill in 12 pages just to locate an email address? Does your commerce site load quickly and prove time and time again to be stable? Good websites can create a sense of company trustworthiness before a person ever speaks to anyone at your organization. Think about how many times you have made a decision solely based on the content you saw on a company’s website.
Cultivating Trust through Sales
Many buyers think that sales folks will say anything in order to close a deal and more times than we’d like to admit, this is the case. Sales team members need to be held accountable for ensuring that the expectations they set during the sales process are able to be delivered on by the service team, especially in terms of timelines and product roadmap initiatives.
As your sales team works a deal through, each touch point with a potential client should be well organized (don’t waste the prospect’s time) and always accompanied by meticulous follow through. If you promise to send a list of references by tomorrow, try to send it today -- but at latest, by the customer’s close of business tomorrow, of course. Trust is reinforced when people consistently do what they say they are going to do and as cliché as it sounds, there really is something to under-promising and over-delivering.
If you are lucky enough to get to the contractual phase, is your contract language as clear and straightforward as possible? Do you call out important terms appropriately or do lawyers have to sift through 300 pages to decode what your SLAs are, how much training is truly included, and so on? It is crucial that the contract merely formalizes what the prospect has previously learned. No one wants to find a “gotcha” at this stage or worse yet, hidden fees or terms post-contract that weren’t made clear during the sales process. Honesty and transparency are critical to building trust.
Reinforcing Trust through Customer Success
All of this hopefully leads to the point where your Success team is introduced to the customer or soon-to-be-customer. At this point, trust can be merely reinforced as opposed to needing to be built from the ground up or worse yet, needing to be rebuilt. Your Customer Success team can then come alongside the client as a trusted advisor, client advocate, and all of the other tried and true tactics that help to strengthen client-company relationships and ultimately build brand loyalty.
Delivering Trust through Product Management
Does your product do what you promised it would do? Is it stable and reliable? Do you have very high levels of uptime? Do you have a strong QA process to ensure it is as bug-free as possible? When bugs are identified, are they quickly fixed? How smoothly do releases go? Do you communicate any needed downtime well in advance? Customers need to be able to rely on your product. Trust is further facilitated when clients are sure that each time they go to access your product, they can count on it.
Relationships and trust are critical to any company’s success, but it isn’t just the Customer Success team’s responsibility. Each staff member that interacts with your external audience should be vested and working tirelessly to ensure that trust is cultivated at every step of your customer’s journey.
What action can you take today to build greater trust or facilitate stronger relationships with your prospects and customers? Maybe schedule a meeting with one of the above teams to take a deeper dive into their area of responsibility?
About the Author
Lindsay has spent the past decade helping hundreds of educational institutions implement cloud-based solutions. Her passion lies in ensuring customers just say "Wow!" when asked how the company is performing. In her current role as Director of Client Services, she oversees all customer implementations, communications, training, and support for rSmart, an ed tech company who strives to simplify access to campus services for students, faculty, and staff via their OneCampus product.More Content by Lindsay Smith