The concept of “I can’t trust you, until I get to know you better,” is at the core of a great posting by Christopher Allen in the Life With Alacrity blog. Christopher’s thoughts are a great window into how real relationships are built with customers. When two people are “building rapport” with each other, they are going through this process:
This is how I typically explain progressive trust when I meet someone in-person at a conference:
You are now spending your most precious resource, that most unrenewable commodity — time, in order to listen and understand what I have to say.
Why do you do so? Because by the act of us being here in this common space, at this conference, you have found a very simple credential from me–that I’m willing to spend time here in a place that you are interested in as well. In turn, I’m willing to spend more time chatting with you for the same reason.
Why do we continue to chat, and not move on to other people to discuss with? Because as we chat we are exchanging a number of credentials — people we know in common, common interests, meaningful ideas, etc. We may also present credentials typically issued by others, like our business cards, or explain our relationship to the host…As our collaboration grows, we will find ourselves seeking more and more credentials, endorsements, etc., but they will not be enough. The next level of trust can only be established by experience of commitment — for instance do we call back when we said we would? These tests typically start with small things, and then grow to larger things. At some point this may ultimately grow to form simple verbal contracts; over time richer, deeper social contracts are agreed upon that might not be written down.
Ultimately we may bring in third parties to witness, and thus possibly enforce our mutual obligations…
Some great thoughts there, along with a followup by Clay.
Progressive trust is required to create real relationships with customers. How do you do it?