I just returned from Influence 2017, the annual conference put on by the National Speakers Association. My friend and one of the world’s authorities on trust, David Horsager was one of the amazing keynote speakers. He shared an excellent customer service example that can be summed up this way: Trust your customers and they will trust you.
The quick version of the story is this: A farmer owns a fruit and vegetable stand where his customers pay on the honor system. They simply go over to the money jar and put the appropriate amount of money into the jar. If they need change, they make their own. He trusts his customers to do what’s right, and it pays off.
First, the farmer saves money by not having to hire a cashier. Next, he saves money by not having to buy rubber gloves that he has to change every time he touches money and then switches back to touching the produce. That also saves him time, which is, ultimately, money. But most of all, he gets loyal customers that come back, buy more, spend more when they buy and feel valued. That’s because he trusts his customers, and they trust him.
Customers want to be trusted. After all, would you want to do business with a company that feels like they don’t trust you? Are we guilty of having a process or rules that send the message to the customer, “We don’t trust you.”?
A couple of years ago I shared an example that helps make this point. Guitar Center, one of my favorite stores, had a pretty hefty system to prevent shoplifting. As you walked in, they had a desk that had a full-time employee checking equipment that was brought into and out of the store. It turned out that the anti-shoplifting desk was costing dramatically more to manage and staff than the cost of the merchandise they were losing to dishonest customers. And even worse than that, it was also insulting their honest customers. This is an example of punishing all the customers for the sins of a few. The good people at Guitar Center figured this out and eventually did away with their expensive anti-shoplifting system.
You want your customers to trust you enough to buy from you. So, don’t create friction by putting up barriers with a process that makes them feel like you don’t trust them. It will raise a red flag. It will make them feel uncomfortable, and as mentioned, even insulted.
One of Horsager’s favorite lines is, “A lack of trust is your biggest expense.” He’s a smart man. He gets it. Do you?