How to build stronger customer relationships?

I saw this question posted on Quora and it inspired to to answer it from the perspective a book I recently read.

Trust is the foundation of all relationships.  In order to build relationships with your customers you need to build trust.  The following are 13 Behaviors that build relationship trust from the book “The Speed of Trust “by Stephen M. R. Covey.  I highly recommend you buy a copy and read the book, it is excellent.
The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything: Stephen M.R. Covey, Stephen R. Covey, Rebecca R. Merrill: 9781416549000: Books

The 13 Behaviors:
Behavior #1: Talk Straight
“Tell the truth AND leave the right impression…Talk Straight is honesty in action.   It’s possible to tell the truth and leave the wrong impression.  Leaving the right impression means communicating so clearly that you cannon be misunderstood” (137)
– “Be honest.  Tell the truth.  Let people know where you stand.  Use simple language.  Call things what they are.  Demonstrate integrity.  Don’t manipulate people or distort facts.  Don’t spin the truth.  Don’t leave false impressions” (143)
Behavior #2: Demonstrate Respect
– “There are two critical dimensions to this behavior-first, to behave in ways that show fundamental respect for people, and second, to behave in ways that demonstrate caring and concern.  The overarching principle, however, is the intrinsic worth of individuals.  This behavior is the Golden Rule in action” (145)
– “Genuinely care for others.  Show you care.  Respect the dignity of every person and every role.  Treat everyone with respect, especially those who can’t do anything for you.  Show kindness in the little things.  Don’t fake caring.  Don’t attempt to be ‘efficient’ with people” (151)
Behavior #3: Create Transparency
– “Create Transparency – is about being open.  It’s about being real and genuine and telling the truth in a way people can verify.  Creating transparency also creates buy-in” (153-154, 156)
– “Be open and authentic.  Err on the side of disclosure.  Operate on the premise of ‘What you see is what you get.’  Don’t have hidden agendas. Don’t hide information” (157)
Behavior #4: Right Wrongs
– It “is more than simply apologizing; it’s also making restitution.  It’s making up and making whole. It’s taking action. It’s doing what you can to correct the mistake…and then a little more” (159)
– “Make things right when you’re wrong.  Apologize quickly.  Make restitution where possible.  Practice ‘service recoveries’.  Demonstrate personal humility.  Don’t cover things up.  Don’t let pride get in the way of doing the right thing” (164)
Behavior #5: Show Loyalty
– “There are many ways to show loyalty – big and small – but…we will focus on two dimensions: giving credit to others and speaking about people as though they were present” (166).
·      “By giving credit, you not only affirm the value of an individual’s contribution, you also create an environment in which people feel encouraged to be innovative and collaborative” (166).
·      “People who talk about others behind their backs often seem to think that it will build some kind of camaraderie and trust with those who are there.  But the exact opposite is true.  When you talk about others behind their backs, it causes those who are present to think you’ll do the same to them when they’re not there” (168).
– “Give credit freely.  Acknowledge the contributions of others.  Speak about people as if they were present.  Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves.  Don’t bad-mouth others behind their backs.  Don’t disclose others’ private information” (171)
Behavior #6: Deliver Results
– “Results give you instant credibility and instant trust.  They give you clout.  They clearly demonstrate that you add value, that you can contribute, that you can perform” (172)
– “Establish a track record of results.  Get the right things done.  Make things happen.  Accomplish what you’re hired to do.  Be on time and within budget.  Don’t overpromise and underdeliver.  Don’t make excuses for not delivering” (176)
Behavior #7: Get Better
– “This behavior is an example of how one of the 4 Cores (Capabilities) can be turned directly into a powerful relationship-building tool.  When people see you as a learning, growing, renewing person – or your organization as a learning, growing, renewing organization – they develop confidence in your ability to succeed in a rapidly changing environment, enabling you to build high-trust relationships” (178)
– “Continuously improve.  Increase your Capabilities.  Be a constant learner.  Develop feedback systems – both formal and informal.  Act on the feedback you receive. Thank people for feedback.  Don’t assume today’s knowledge and skills will be sufficient for tomorrow’s challenges” (184)
Behavior #8: Confront Reality
– “Confront Reality – is about taking the tough issues head-on.  It’s about sharing the bad news as well as the good, naming the ‘elephant in the room,’ addressing the ‘sacred cows,’ and discussing the ‘undiscussibles’” (185)
– “Acknowledge the unsaid.  Lead out courageously in conversation. Remove the ‘sword from their hands.’  Don’t skirt the real issues.  Don’t bury your head in the sand” (191)
Behavior #9: Clarify Expectations
– “Clarifying Expectations – is to create shared vision and agreement about what is to be done up front.  I call it the behavior of prevention because if you focus on this one up front, you will avoid heartaches and headaches later on” (193)
– “Disclose and reveal expectations.  Discuss them.  Validate them.  Renegotiate them if needed and possible.  Don’t violate expectations.  Don’t assume that expectations are clear or shared” (199)
Behavior #10: Practice Accountability
– “There are two key dimensions to this Practice Accountability. The first is to holdyourself accountable; the second is to hold others accountable” (200)
– “Take responsibility for results.  Be clear on how you’ll communicate how you’re doing – and how others are doing.  Don’t avoid or shirk responsibility.  Don’t blame others or point fingers when things go wrong” (207)
Behavior #11: Listen First
– “To Listen First means not only to really listen (to genuinely seek to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, experience, and point of view), but to do itfirst (before you try to diagnose, influence, or prescribe)” (208)
– “Listen before you speak.  Understand.  Diagnose.  Listen with your ears – and your eyes and heart.  Find out what the most important behaviors are to the people you’re working with.  Don’t assume you know what matters most to others.  Don’t presume you have all the answers – or all the questions” (214)
Behavior #12: Keep Commitments
– “Keep Commitments – is the ‘Big Kahuna’ of  all behaviors.  It’s the quickest way to build trust in any relationship.  When you make a commitment, you build hope; when you keep it, you build trust” (215)
– “Say what you’re going to do, then do what you say you’re going to do.  Make commitments carefully and keep them.  Make keeping commitments the symbol of your honor.  Don’t break confidences.  Don’t attempt to ‘PR’ your way out of a commitment you’ve broken” (221)
Behavior #13: Extend Trust
– “Extend Trust – is different in kind from the rest of the behaviors.  It’s about shifting from ‘trust’ as a noun to ‘trust’ as a verb.  This behavior will help you become a more trusting leader” (223)
– “Demonstrate a propensity to trust.  Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust.  Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust.  Learn how to appropriately extend trust to others based on the situation, risk and credibility (character and competence) of the people involved.  Don’t withhold trust because there is risk involved” (229)

Leave a Reply