Canadian Vending

Features Business Operations
Operators Perspective: Keeping Your Word And Building Trust


March 24, 2008
By Lio Prataviera

Topics

Keeping your word and building trust go hand in hand.  Together they go
a long way in cementing current business relationships and attaining
new ones.

Keeping your word and building trust go hand in hand.  Together they go a long way in cementing current business relationships and attaining new ones.

A courier company had a commercial out a while back and at the end their tag line was “Moving at the speed of business.”  It made me think of people working fast and furiously moving my parcels while I was getting ready for bed. And as I was closing my eyes, their truck would be just pulling away from the dock.

The commercial was attempting to reassure me, the customer, that the company was out there doing its job and handling my business based upon nothing more than trust … trust that because I had asked them to deliver my packages, they would be doing it, no matter the time of day.

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In a perfect world that’s how it would work and it would be great if every business operated that way. Much of the time that is how we assume most businesses are run. But recent experience has begun to make me wonder.

In the vending industry, we sell products and services to other businesses directly. And even though we try to stay on top of all of our commitments and requests, in our industry (which is very busy and often a one-man show) it is not always easy. We don’t always respond to requests quickly because we have learned through experience to identify those requests that are serious and time sensitive, and those requests that are simply inquiries that usually don't lead to new business.

Sometimes a vendor becomes comfortable with a customer and the customer becomes comfortable in return, leading to a relationship that has settled into a routine based upon the usual place, time and service expected by each party. These are just two ways that can lead to a delay in response time, which erodes the business-customer trust relationship and unknowingly could cost the vendor business.

You can’t always gauge a prospective customer’s true outlook on your services by a single e-mail/voice mail etc., and you may not know until it’s too late that your current customer is actually dissatisfied with your response time and service and may want to change suppliers. Clear communication between both is assumed, but not realized.

Trust is the key issue: both the vendor and the customer trust each other to be “serious” about the business carried out between them, with each listening to what the other is saying, as well as being willing to act upon what they say, and not just “going through the motions.”

Simply returning calls promptly is a great place to start towards building this “serious” relationship.

I have heard people say it is okay to “B.S. your customers,” however if all businesses operated on this principle, then business as we know it would come to a halt, because no one’s word would be trusted. The speed of business is based on trust and honesty.

So it is important to keep your word, follow through and be truthful. Even large corporations choose to operate on the principle that their customers are being truthful with them, and as customers we assume the same. The implicit business trust – that the business is responsive and honest to the customer – is the fundamental understanding that makes most transactions possible.

However, because of scandals such as Enron and Worldcom, where key executives acted for their own personal gain, increased government oversight to protect customers and investors has become necessary – but it has also added to the bureaucracy. The result is that transactions take more time than they used to, require more staff hours and maybe even more staff, which means more cost to the business and higher prices to the customer.

Anything that erodes trust erodes your ability to do business; what other businesses do affects you and vice versa, often far more than we are aware.

Keeping your word and calling people back builds confidence between people, gives you the reputation of being dependable, and helps establish a professional image. But most importantly it keeps your business “moving at the speed of business.”