As a business owner, your employees are at the heart of everything you do. How they feel about you, and how they perceive the company, can directly affect how they interact with your customers. That means the consistency of your customer service experience depends on how you lead your business, not just your individual employees. If your business is struggling to make sales or bring customers back later on, it could be time to think about how you personally are building the trust your employees have in you as their leader.
Trust is Earned, Not Given
First things first: consistent performance is critical to building customer trust and winning moments with your team. In order to really start moving a business forward, preventing mistakes and keeping goals on track each month, you need trust. Between customers and employees, trust is crucial, because it provides the foundation that your entire working relationship is built upon. But how well your employees develop these connections, depends on how much faith they have placed in you as a business owner.
In my second book, Patterned After Excellence: Pursuing Truth in Work and Life, I said that business owners need to learn to be “servant leaders”—they need to provide the support and guidance that their employees need but give them room to reach their true potential. To develop the kind of consistent performance that your long-term customer relationships need to thrive, you need to serve the people that work for you.
Human tendency can work against building this trust, and we may find ourselves prioritizing our own good—our own selfishness and greed—over that of our team. Learning to overcome negative tendencies and live a life driven by universal truth can provide the example your team needs to win moments and build trust with each customer.
Breaking Commitments Breaks Trust
The biggest obstacle that stands in the way of trust is a business owner who doesn’t seem to want to support or care for their employees or who doesn’t uphold their own commitments to the business. Such actions would make one an inconsistent leader. Without good examples of consistent quality in the workplace, employees can become indifferent to the responsibilities of their job as well as those they are serving. They can start to slack off, become distant from their coworkers and create negative customer experiences with homeowners.
An indifferent employee is an employee who is more likely to break commitments, and become inconsistent and untrustworthy. When customers find that your employees are willing to break commitments, they’ll lose faith in your company, and may even stop doing business with you. The worst part? It’s entirely based on how the company is being led. Nothing else creates a culture of indifference like leadership driven by negative tendencies.
Customers Require Attention and Support
When customers first approach your company, they can be a little afraid and unpredictable. But that’s only because they might see your business as unpredictable at first. In order to break down these presumptions, you need to take time building strong, consistent relationships with every customer that walks through your door, not just your best ones.
Your Business is About People
The people in your office and in the field are the ones taking care of customers. But as a leader, your employees are your customers, and you need to take care of them the same way you would want them to take care of each homeowner at the point of contact. Building trust with your employees through servant leadership is the key to building customer trust outside the company. That’s the missing link!
Ultimately, if your employees don’t feel like they can trust you, they can neglect to build that trust with the homeowner, too.
Customers Prioritize Experience
Customers don’t always choose a brand or company because they sell a great product or charge the lowest prices. Creating a truly consistent customer experience is the best way to reliably keep customers coming back time and time again independent of price or brand. Just like your customers, your employees need to be supported and cared for, too. By providing them the opportunity to grow in the business, you can help them become more trusting in your leadership, and ultimately, more engaged in winning moments for the homeowner.
Trust Your Team
The other half of supporting your team requires trusting them. You’ve chosen these employees based on the skills and abilities they can provide, and the unique needs that they can fulfill in your company. To really make that relationship work, you need to trust that they can do the work you’ve set out for them, and always push them to strive for excellence every day. You might need to step back and free yourself from the emotional and physical labor of closely managing your team, and take time to work on your own responsibilities.
As I wrote in Patterned After Excellence:
Putting [team members] in a position with a set of responsibilities based on their strengths will enable you to emotionally let go and become free to work on the business. Make sure you have the right talent in the right seats, and treat your people the way you want your customers to be treated. That’s how you minimize the spread of workplace apathy and grow your business with people who care.
Great Leadership Creates Great Customer Experiences
The best leaders in this business hire for attitude, train for talent and ask for excellence. They find the right person for the job and help them grow into it over time, and that’s how they win moments with each member on their team as well as the homeowner. Making sure that your employees feel confident in their positions, and trusting them to get the job done right, is key to delivering great customer experiences every time.
To learn more about leadership skills and strategies that lead to better workers and happier customers, visit EGIA.org/CBS-Leadership to download a free training package full of online courses, powerful video lessons, industry research and much more!
Brigham Dickinson is president and founder of Power Selling Pros (www.powersellingpros.com), a leading coaching and training firm dedicated to teaching businesses to WOW more customers. Brigham is also a founding faculty member of EGIA Contractor University (www.egia.org/university) and the author of “Patterned After Excellence: Pursuing Truth in Work and Life,” a leadership and development book intended to help business owners learn to overcome human tendencies and adhere to universal truths in both their professional and personal lives.