Friday, December 9, 2011

Trust and the Customer Experience

Image courtesy of thorinside
Have you built a culture of trust within your organization? What does that entail?

Trust is an important part of the customer experience equation. It is such a powerful quality to have and to hold. 

Think about this. For a unique and remarkable customer experience to occur, each of the following must ring true:



  • A company must trust its employees.
  • Employees must trust their employers.
  • Companies must (empower employees to) trust customers.
And...
  • Customers must trust brands/companies.
One company that is built on trust is Zane's Cycles. This story is shared over and over again, but it's a great example of how trust is key to a great customer experience and, hence, a successful business venture. Chris Zane allows people to test drive his bikes (for 30 days, no less!) without requiring a driver's license or some other form of collateral, and his average loss is only five bikes per year (with 4,000 sold per year).

His philosophy is, “If you can shift your thinking away from merely selling and into building trust instead, even if it costs you a few bucks in profit, you’ll begin to see opportunities you never imagined once you understand what it means to ‘wow’ that customer by giving them more than they expected.

So the reason I chose to write about trust this week doesn't have anything to do with buying a bike. No, it actually comes from a very unexpected source that pleasantly surprised me: McDonald's.

Earlier this week, I had taken my boys to Taekwondo. The weekly routine after the Tuesday night class is to pick up McDonald's for them. I pulled into the drive-thru, ordered their items, and drove to the window to pay for the order. I reached into my purse and realized I didn't have my wallet with me (because I had switched purses at the last minute before we left the house). In the moment I realized this, a variety of thoughts ran through my head, not the least of which was two famished boys in the backseat anxiously awaiting their dinner and the chaos that would ensue if I didn't hand them some food in the next two minutes.

I asked the cashier if I could just give her my credit card number, since I have it memorized. She went to get the manager, who informed me that they could only enter the card numbers with a swipe of the card. And then, wait for it... she surprised me! She said that if I promised to return to pay for the order, I could take it without paying now. WOW! I promised I would and off we went. Thirty minutes later, with two boys with full tummies, I returned to pay for the order.

It's been said that trust can be defined as "need intersecting with belief." I thought this was an interesting way to look at it. And I understand it now.

He who does not trust enough will not be trusted. -Lao Tzu

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