Client Relationships 101: How to Build Trust

BUSINESS

According to a recent survey, more than 80 percent of consumers agree that brand trust is important in their purchasing decisions. However, just a third of those consumers actually have trust in the brands they interact with. 

Building trust is crucial for any interpersonal connection—and clients are no exception. In fact, trust can be one of your most valuable assets as a business owner. When you take the time to nurture a trustworthy client relationship, it communicates that you’re credible, honest, authentic, and reliable. It shows that your ethics align with theirs, you see them as human instead of a transaction, and you have their best interests in mind.  

In short, trust is the “secret sauce” that will attract clients and help you retain them for the long term. Trust creates a loyal, satisfied customer base and a steady stream of positive referrals to grow your business even more. So here’s how to form sustainable, mutually beneficial client relationships built on a foundation of trust.      

Make Sure Their Personal Information Is Stored Securely

Over the course of a working relationship, you’ll need access to some of the client’s sensitive, confidential information. This is necessary to perform the services you were hired for, but it’s also an enormous responsibility. The client trusts you to keep this data safe from breaches and cyber-attacks. If you compromise their information due to lax security measures, you’ll risk losing their business—it’s that simple. Use the strategies below to maintain your client’s trust with secure, robust data protection:

  • Collect and store only the most essential documents or client information.
  • Use two-factor authentication and strong passwords for all login activities.
  • Run consistent updates on security software to ensure optimal functioning.
  • Limit who can access, view, and share files within the company database.
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Set Clear and Realistic Expectations for All Deliverables

Setting expectations with a client from the onset will eliminate ambiguity and minimize the potential for misunderstandings. Clarity is a vital component of trust—it ensures both you and the client are moving in the same direction with cohesive, unified goals. So make a point to iron out expectations for the deliverables and the relationship as a whole. This should be an open conversation that leads to mutual agreement. 

You’ll want these expectations to be clear to maintain structure and accountability and realistic enough to allow for flexibility. Having this discussion on the front end will also show the client that you are proactive and committed to the best possible outcome promptly. Don’t forget to honor the expectations you create—or communicate when they need to shift. Active, intentional follow-through ultimately solidifies trust.     

Be Responsive and Transparent in Your Communication

Almost 50 percent of surveyed businesses report losing customers due to poor communication, and 95 percent of consumers feel the companies they interact with need to improve in this area. So what do clients expect in terms of effective communication? It’s not an unreasonable ask—they want responsiveness and transparency. 

In other words, just be honest with your clients. Keep them informed of all changes or updates on the project. Make yourself accessible to reach when they have input, questions, or concerns. Provide them with thorough answers and clarifications. Respond as soon as possible to their emails or phone calls (within reason, of course—work-life boundaries are important). Schedule consistent meetings to brainstorm ideas or hash out new developments. Bottom line: healthy communication will strengthen your client relationships.

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Listen to Their Needs, then Collaborate to Find Solutions

One of the most meaningful ways to cultivate trust is to listen before you speak. This sounds basic, but it will convey respect for the client, a willingness to hear their point of view, and a commitment to reaching collaborative solutions. When you listen to understand another person, it’s easier to give your full attention and take in all the information so that you can respond constructively. This, in turn, helps the client feel safe. 

So invite clients to share feedback with you. Listen to their needs carefully without allowing defensiveness to taint your response. Ask clarifying questions to ensure you’ve heard their message. Let them know if you could use some time to process before answering. Then, problem-solve together until you find a resolution that works for both of you. It’s important to nurture a dynamic, in which clients feel comfortable expressing themselves while trusting that you’ll value their input and meet their needs. 

Building Trust Is Vital for Successful Client Relationships

Trust is the bedrock of strong and healthy relationships—if you want to acquire new clients and retain existing ones, they must be able to trust you. This will require consistent and intentional efforts on your part, but the results are so worthwhile. Not only will trust forge successful client relationships, but it’ll also help scale your business in the long term. 

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