The molecule of customer trust and profitability

David Maister laid down the foundation to understand trust in his work The Trusted Advisor. Maister showed us that trust was generated through 4 key dimensions: credibility, reliability, intimacy and lack of self-orientation.

For customers to experience trust, the conditions of trust need to be in place. Customers either consciously or unconsciously, spoken or unspoken, ask questions that help them establish whether their requirements for trust will be met. Trust pays big dividends. Businesses that create trust, speed up the sales cycle, close more sales and wield greater influence over their clients.

So how do you generate more of this profit spinning, emotional connection of trust?

Tips to boost customer trust

Here are some questions from Hearts and Minds tool kit, which expand on Maister’s definitions.  You can use these questions to help you design more trusting relationships with your customers.

Credibility: By who’s authority do you say so? Do I need to check what you are saying to me?

Reliability: Can I dependent on you to do a certain behavior to my desired requirements?

Intimacy: Can I sense how you feel about this exchange? Are you having fun? Are you fearful or confident? Will this make you happy? Do you understand and respect my feelings in this exchange?

Self orientation: Is this a win win or a loose (for me) and a win for you?

Paul Zak takes this one step further when he explores the neuroscience of teamwork in his work The Moral Molecule (thanks Paul). In Paul’s work, he explores when conditions are in place to produce the molecule of oxytocin (some people call the molecule of love), we automatically move into a more trusting place in the relationship.

Paul’s studies have shown that positive social relationships generate high levels of oxytocin and therefore trust. There is also a reciprocity that happens, when you lead with a vulnerable act that shows you trust someone, they will most likely reply with a gesture that shows they trust you, trust begets trust.

Zak goes on to say, allow your employees to do social things to “top up” on oxytocin levels, which are palpable to customers. Zak is even advocating allowing employees to spend some time on social networks everyday.

When your employees are positively resourced with oxytocin, they are in the space to create social connections, which is a strong precursor to trust. The key lesson from Zak is, be trusting and social with your customers and they are very likely to reciprocate with trust and social rapport with you.

Trust is the fuel of business, it is the stuff great brands are made of, and now, thanks to Zak’s insights, trust is not just a serious sombre subject, trust is about being social and having fun. ..bring back the executive lunch!

Louise Kelly

Managing Director

Hearts and Minds

Founder the Thought Leaders Circle

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