Where's the trust?

Is it possible that in the age of modern communications everything’s becoming ephemeral?

Roger Paterson
By Roger Paterson
  • 21 March 2018
  • Reading time: 6 minutes
Where's the trust?

Is it possible that in the age of modern communications everything’s becoming ephemeral? Things like honesty, trust or commitment to clients, for example?

Recently, I travelled a whole day for one meeting that only lasted 25 minutes. It was all to tell a client we’d underpriced a project because of simple human error, and I lost the order as a result.

So, was that wrong? After all, I could have avoided a day out of the office and relayed the bad news over the phone or via an email.

Well, you can probably guess that I don’t think it was wrong or counterproductive. I travelled because I felt responsible for the error, made by a team member at our factory. At the heart of my decision was the fact that this was a client – and I didn’t want to lose their trust on the business of a range of other products we supply them with on an ongoing basis. OK, someone had made a mistake. Hey, it happens. We’re all human, after all.

It was interesting because they appreciated the effort we went to in explaining the situation, and our other ongoing business seems secure despite this isolated issue. But what about the £20K+ order? Well, I had a call from the GM the next week who was complimentary of how we handled the situation, which was a huge weight off my mind. Thankfully, we’re not out of the running for future orders, which is what actually adds to the lifetime value of the client.

What do I mean by lifetime value? The value of a client over the entire period that they continue to buy our products and services. It’s a concept I sometimes wonder if we give enough thought to.

At Streamline we stick proudly to our core values. We are; Accountable, Committed, Enterprising and Honest. Of course, it hurts sometimes, especially when things go wrong, but these principles also help us make the right decisions to correct an issue. It’s crucial to have parameters to go by; these are ours and they’ve served us well so far.

I get that there are times when the up-front approach feels uncomfortable, but would anyone trust a surgeon who emerged from a nearby pub before their operation? Or a salesperson who you overhear having a side conversation with a colleague where they say the opposite of what they just told you?

Governments are struggling to make people believe they’re telling the truth. Banks have taken a knock in recent years too and websites that promise great service but provide no reply are just a few examples. All the while, there are brands who have been quietly doing the same thing successfully for many years, regardless of circumstances. Top-tier brands like AA, Post Office, Boots and Google to name just a few.

Ok, you might not love all of them but lifetime value is hugely valuable and if you’re in business for the long run, like we are, I’m thinking that trust has to appear pretty high up your corporate agenda.

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