Ninety-nine percent of surveyed business leaders say trust is essential to build long-term client relationships, according to Mercuri’s report on The Future State of Trust.
Trust is an essential aspect of any type of relationship regardless of whether it is personal or professional. In business relationships, trust is crucial and can translate to greater customer loyalty, business profitability, and revenue stability.
By contrast, when a lack of trust exists between the client and your business, the customer is likely to be at risk and may soon churn.
What is trust? The Cambridge Dictionary defines trust, as “to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable.”
Trust cannot be demanded or acquired. It can only be earned and developed over time. And once broken, trust can be difficult to regain. Therefore, how can account managers build trust with VIP clients through customer engagement?
According to Mercuri’s survey of over 1000 business leaders, 6 key elements are crucial to building trusted relationships with customers. Account managers responsible for customer engagement can leverage these six ways to increase trust with their clients. This, in turn, will increase retention, advocacy, longevity, profitability, and revenue.
6 Ways to Build Trust with Clients
Account managers develop trust by displaying the following characteristics as they engage with their clients.
90% of survey respondents indicated it was critical to be reliable: delivering on promises, providing excellent service, and offering high-quality products and services.
Account managers demonstrate this quality by creating account plans that drive customer goal achievement. Then follow through to ensure the tasks and milestones of the plan are completed on schedule so clients receive measurable outcomes by using your products or services.
Follow-through is crucial in terms of any commitment made to a client. Account managers must complete tasks, hit deadlines as promised, and keep customers abreast of progress or delays.
These actions help clients believe they can trust the account manager.
69% of respondents said competency was critical: to be proactive and listen to the customer, educate, inspire, and challenge the customer to change, and deeply understand the customer’s industry.
This trait can be exhibited by account managers through:
- Active listening when engaging with clients. Asking probing questions and taking notes to learn and understand customer needs, concerns, and goals. Then discern their challenges, priorities, and circumstances to craft effective plans to help them achieve their most important goals.
- Demonstrating expertise by sharing industry trends, best practices, and relevant knowledge to help them continuously improve in their role and leverage your product or service to their benefit.
- Proactively anticipating challenges and opportunities through research and SWOT analyses, then providing solutions to address them.
These actions demonstrate a genuine interest in clients’ success and deepen their trust in their account managers.
66% of survey respondents felt integrity was critical: to stand by authentic principles and values, provide truthful, unbiased, and reliable information, and be natural, transparent, and genuine in communication.
Account managers display integrity through open, honest communications with customers. This means being open about limitations, challenges, and potential risks instead of overpromising or setting unrealistic expectations.
Clients learn that account managers are credible and believable when they behave in this manner.
54% of survey participants indicated that being driven by a purpose beyond profit is crucial. In other words, they prefer customer-centricity.
Ways that account managers can display this trait is by prioritizing customer goal achievement over their own, advocating for the customer internally within their own organization, and tailoring customer engagement to the customer’s preferences.
Customer centricity also involves fostering open lines of communication with clients, encouraging a feedback loop, addressing concerns and issues, and keeping current with the customer’s status.
46% of survey respondents said that reputation was essential in terms of bringing new insights based on ideas and trends, being a resource, and embracing validation by reviews and referrals.
Account managers can build a reputation as a valued resource by developing relationships at multiple levels within client organizations. This creates a deeper understanding of the customer’s operations, challenges, and priorities while building rapport with various influencers along the decision-making process.
This deeper understanding and rapport enable them to be a better resource and trusted advisor status to their clients.
38% of respondents felt that security is critical when building trust. This means ensuring the integrity and protection of customer data, using secure documents, and securely authenticating any signatory’s identity.
Businesses that employ these practices help account managers develop trusting relationships through customer engagement.
Build Trust with Clients Through Customer Engagement
Trust is an essential element of any relationship, especially those with top customers. It is not given freely and must be earned.
A recent survey revealed six traits that business leaders identified as crucial for building trust. These include reliability, competency, integrity, purpose, reputation, and security.
Customer centricity, focused on customer needs, experiences, and outcomes, helps account managers build trust with clients through customer engagement.
Help your account managers master the art of customer engagement. Register for KAMCon.