understanding today’s business practices
In Your Company They Trust
by Mike Jones
Customer loyalty is an invaluable commodity in difficult economic times.
Customers aren’t willing to take a chance with their scant budgets on
companies about whose products and services they’re uncertain.
To become a glass services shop that keeps a loyal clientele even while
those customers are tightening their belts, you need to put time and energy
into building and maintaining trust.
Referrals and Recommendations
The customers most likely to trust the quality of your company are those
referred to you by other satisfied customers.
You can encourage more of those referrals through a few strategic moves:
• Give added value to your current loyal customers. While customers who
already like your glass shop will always give a recommendation when someone
asks for it, they’re unlikely to pipe up on their own if the subject hasn’t
already been raised.
By giving them a little more than they expect—following up on a customer
service question, throwing in a sale item with a big purchase, or simply
giving a little extra attention to a regular problem—you increase the
likelihood that they’ll mention that great experience to others.
• Put a customer review section on your website. It’s less likely that
your potential new customers will be able to talk to a friend or colleague
to get a referral for your shop. That means you need to get those reviews
from satisfied customers onto your site so that brand-new ones with no
relation to your current ones can see what others have to say.
The other great benefit to having a customer review section is that your
customers can see how quickly and effectively you respond to problems.
Sometimes negative reviews that turn positive after a little extra attention
are even more beneficial than raves.
• Don’t neglect testimonials. Testimonials are slightly different from
customer reviews, since testimonials are purely positive and are often
edited for the best impact. They are usually taken with a grain of salt
for that reason, but having great testimonials from happy customers can
show that the vast majority of your customers like and trust your shop.
If you don’t have testimonials, seek them out from customers who were
particularly pleased with your services. Just send them a brief e-mail
explaining that you’re adding a testimonials section (or updating your
current one) and asking if they could take a few minutes to write a few
sentences about their experience.
Start a Blog
Customers trust those service providers they believe to be experts in
a particular field.
As a glass services shop, one of the ways you can build credibility as
an expert is to start a blog detailing the best ways to go about certain
projects, reviews of products that you’ve found especially effective,
or offer news about developments in the industry that can affect your
• Be warned: a blog isn’t the place to pitch your own services and goods.
You can add a brief line at the end of each post stating that you provide
these services and products with a link to the appropriate page of your
website, but promoting your own business in the body of the posts will
actually diminish your credibility, not enhance it.
• Customers want to know they can trust you for honest, well-researched
information. If every post promotes your company, customers aren’t likely
to trust that kind of self-centered, biased information.
• Straightforward, honest information will build your credibility and
make it more likely customers will buy from you, regardless of whether
you mentioned your company on the blog or not. Customers are always looking
for the expert to tell them what to do. When they find that expert, and
he also happens to sell the product they’re looking for, they’ve just
found that honest dealer they sought.
“Customers trust those service
providers they believe to be experts in a particular field.”
Protect Your Reputation
When customers are looking for any excuse not to spend their rapidly dwindling
budgets, you need to make sure you don’t give them one.
• If you’ve earned a reputation over the years for fast customer service,
this is a bad time to let an e-mail wait for three days before that customer
gets a response. If you’ve earned a reputation for stellar quality, it’s
a bad time to take on a product you know is inferior to the quality you’ve
• When you’re looking for new ways to enhance your reputation, it’s easy
to pay too much attention to new strategies and not enough attention to
the old strategies that have already made you popular among your current
• You definitely need to step up your game and add strategies, but not
at the expense of the tried-and-true company methods that have already
made you a trusted company.
• Ask your customers about the qualities they most value about your company.
When you’re incorporating new strategies, make sure none of those qualities
suffer. Those are the qualities that earned you loyal customers in the
first place, and they’ll continue to serve you well as you add new virtues
to your repertoire.
• You need to monitor and respond to what your customer is saying on other
websites. Check to see how you are being reviewed and ranked on sites
like Google™ and Yahoo!®. This will allow you another opportunity
to quickly and effectively respond to problems. This is your opportunity
to turn a negative into a positive.
Mike Jones is the president of GTS Services in Portland, Ore.
Mr. Jones’ opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this
© Copyright 2009 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.