Have you ever had a customer who just doesn’t quite seem to trust you? He (she) listens to you with raised eyebrow, and doesn’t take what you say at face value. He looks for hidden agendas, and always looks for the “catch.” If you are a basically honest person, it can be a very unpleasant sensation. (Even if you’re not an honest person, it’s still unpleasant – but at least you know who to blame!)
Of all the connections we can build with our customers (as well as co-workers, bosses, employees, etc) trust is both the hardest to create, and easiest to break. Truth be told, in this day and age, a little healthy skepticism is probably a good thing. But there are some people who so greatly fear the vulnerability that comes with trust, they overcompensate by trusting virtually nothing and no-one.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for building trust. Loss of trust is founded to a large extent by personal experiences, and it is only by creating honest, positive experiences that we can build it back. So what can you do when you have a customer who seems skeptical? These three steps are a good start:
1. Acknowledge and validate his discomfort
eg. “I understand your discomfort. I suspect I’d feel the same way if I were you.”
2. Reaffirm to her that you care
eg. “I care about how satisfied you are – and I don’t want you <buy/sell/do> anything you’re not sure of.”
3. Restate your position, then set her free
Give him permission to walk away (those of you who are in sales – this means you too!). eg. “I really do think this is best for you because <benefits go here>. But you really should be 100% comfortable before you make a decision.”
These three steps express empathy, caring, and confidence in your position – three things that the Suspicious Customer is looking for. Give it a try. You’ll notice changes right away in both his body language and his attitude.
[This is from the Archive Project – where we are attempting to get 10 years of Winning at Work on the web! Original publication date: 28 May, 2005]
Shaun Belding is CEO of The Belding Group is a global leader and speaker on customer experience, employee engagement and workplace performance
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