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How to (Re-)Build Customer Trust After a Crisis

As we’ve discussed at great – exhaustive – length, trust is inextricably linked to every single success your organization achieves.

There is a snowball effect when you create an atmosphere of trust. When employees feel trusted, the feeling spills over into their relationships with contractors, vendors and customers. Further, employees begin to assume the best in others, too.

Too often, companies treat customers like they are the problem because their workplace has become toxic, uncertain, fleeced with policies, and unfun. But when you approach problems with trust, it paves the way for meaningful connections, both internally and externally.

The win happens not just inside your company, but outside of it, too.

So while that foundation of trust positively impacts your customer experience – albeit indirectly – what can organizations do to build – or rebuild – trust after a crisis?

The bad news? It takes work. And a lot of intentionality.

The good news? It’s entirely possible, especially when you consider how ravenous society is for a good, old-fashioned redemption story arc.

So let’s give ‘em one.

5 Ways To Rebuild Trust

Customer trust is a currency. And just like a currency, it can be earned and saved over time – and depleted in seconds.

Product recall. Public relations misstep. Security breaches. They happen because life – and mistakes – happen.

But it’s what happens next that will matter most when (re-)building customer trust.

1. Be Honest. This seems like a no-brainer, especially considering we’re talking about trust here but you’d be surprised – or maybe not if you’re a consumer of anything and have seen how companies have mishandled their blunders – to learn how many organizations cover up a goof with another oops. Don’t do that. Be humble and own it.

2. Be The Customer. When in doubt, ask either the customer individually – or your entire client base, depending on the circumstances – how you can make things right. No reason to blindly guess. Then – and this is where many organizations miss the mark –- listen and, if possible, implement those changes. Empathy goes a long way.

3. Be Proactive. So, you listened to what the customers want and you’ve determined you can implement those changes. Now? Do it. Sure, some changes may prove costly but nowhere near as costly as losing a chunk of loyal – read: priceless – customers. Customer loyalty is your real money in the bank.

4. Be Educated. Once you’ve cleared up the short-term mess, now it’s time to focus on your long game: regaining your customers’ trust. Determine why it was lost so you can ensure it never happens again. What good is a mistake if you don’t learn from it?

Now, a little more crowdsourcing for some actionable feedback, you can try …

a. Automated satisfaction surveys
b. Customer service follow-up
c. Review websites
d. Acknowledge inactive customers

5. Be Generous. You don’t need to give away the farm but small gestures go a long way. Beyond overdelivering and providing goods and services that exceed expectations, never underestimate the power of a small token of your gratitude in exchange for their grace: a discount, a coupon, or a free sample. Something that demonstrates your appreciation.

(Re-)building trust with customers takes time, intentionality and a humble heart – but it is entirely possible. Start writing your own redemption story arc. You know, the one where the audience thinks you’re the villain but then, after an incredible montage of grit, determination, humility and perseverance, you emerge the hero, err, the company they can trust.

Alexa, play ‘Eye of the Tiger’

For more on navigating tough times, check out our CEO Tricia Sciortino’s article – Fight Or Flight: What Kind of Crisis Leader Are You? – to steel your nerves and right the ship – today!