In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.
The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.
For the Chicago Cubs organization, trust and hope—for many, many years—were all the currency they had to give their fans. When they finally won that championship title in 2016, it had been 108 years since a Cubs jersey was in a World Series. Since 1906, the Cubbies had only qualified for the postseason on 18 occasions. Bound together by heartbreak and joy, through generations of families, the Cubs’ relationship with their fans is one of reciprocal trust. Both gave and got.
Loving the underdog Cubs was a family tradition nurtured by my dad. We made many memories within the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. And when that championship title finally came in 2016, my family—as well as millions of other Cubs fans around the world—were rewarded for trusting that their team would eventually win. What’s more, Cubs fans rewarded their team back in kind. Millions came out to cheer them on in a celebration that, by some estimates, is one of the top 10 gatherings in human history. Officials estimate that 5 million people showed up to the parade and rally held for the Cubs in Chicago, making it the seventh largest gathering in human history.
The foundational trust that the Cubs built with their fans is not unlike the trust that grows over time between a company and its customers. While companies may not have millions of people lining the streets to cheer them on, what they end up with is earning essentially the same: a two-way, balanced relationship.
Give Trust to Get Trust
So the goal here is to earn customer trust by trusting them first. Every customer relationship begins because a customer chooses to trust an organization and its people. Physicians are trusted with the health of families. Realtors are trusted to guide a home purchase or sale. Computer manufacturers are trusted to provide reliable equipment to do a job. Banks are trusted to ensure financial safety and security.
Would you invite your mom over to help make dinner, and then chain the blender to the counter? Of course you wouldn’t. But customers can feel at times a lack of trust from companies by how offers are structured, legal wording, and the amount of fine print, or conditions for making a sale. One-sided trust can show up in the manner in which you review new customers you’re considering, or in the contracts customers sign, or requiring compliance to processes that seem to weigh a little heavy on benefiting the company.
This behavior inadvertently makes the customer feel small, and at times defenseless. You know it in your life as a customer. It’s exhausting physically because of the extra time, and the effort required to make sure you get a fair shake, and it’s emotionally exhausting.
This is our opportunity to earn that trust through giving trust. Do you deliberately trust customers back for their trust in you? Do you trust them in your forms, in your paperwork, and in your contracts? Are there any clues that you give them that could indicate a lack of trust, like a pen chained to the desk? Do you have moments where mom might think, “They don’t seem to trust me.”
Inventory Your Opportunities to Give Trust
To move closer to a balanced relationship with your customers, consider inventorying your opportunities for giving trust. Identify communication and compliance to processes required across your customer’s journey. Identify who holds the power in each and why. Then begin to challenge the status quo, and ask the questions your mom would ask.
Ask the questions you know to ask. Overturn and redesign for two-way trust.