For years I have talked with the teams that I have been blessed to work with about the importance of becoming a “Trusted Insider” with our customers and how to achieve it. Today, if you do a web search on the term, they talk about cyber security threats. That’s not what I am talking about!
So what is it and how do you achieve it? First it’s not a one-dimensional effort. It requires credibility, consistency, affinity and a lack of self-orientation and you have to operate on all levels.
In regard to the issue of credibility I would hope that it is self-evident to all of us; does your customer believe you?
Consistency has to be demonstrated; do we show up on time, meet our commitments?
Affinity; do they feel that you really care about their personal and company’s success?
Self-orientation requires some personal-insight; I suggest that there is no greater source of customer distrust than when you appear to be more interested in yourself than being helpful, and being helpful is more important than being right!
When a customer trusts us enough to give us detailed “insider” information as to what concerns they have with issues such as cost, quality, delivery, fidelity and management of their product or service, we can build the right solution delivering on the agreed measurable objectives.
The problem we can run into is that often the Company involved doesn’t want the insider information shared. The information being shared is often at 10,000 feet. As a result we may end up searching in the dark, trying to help build a solution without a destination. In those cases the results are guaranteed to be less effective than they would have otherwise been.
The challenge for all, regardless of the market we serve, is to earn the Trusted Insider position every day by being proactive and approaching our customers with new ideas and recommendations on how to save money, increase revenue or improve customer service.
The key is to earn the information needed to be excellent!
I have often been asked, what has been the best comment I’ve received from a customer who considered our team and myself to be Trusted Insiders. That comment came from an Executive at one of the largest companies in the world when he was asked why he worked so closely with us. He said: “because they always look out for our best interest”.
That has always been my goal within the company I work for, and with the customers we work with – ensure you have their best interest at heart!