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Dealing with Trust Issues

April 26, 2019
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When I find myself in a situation where wrong has been committed under my authority whether intentional or not, the quickest and best way back to forgiveness and trust is through a plan.

When Something Goes Wrong

Recently I had a customer contact me regarding a recent charge made by my business on their credit card. Three months prior they had made a purchase from us, but not recently. It was not a large purchase, but a purchase nonetheless.

Pausing in this story, I have to give these people credit for how well they monitor their finances. This was not one or two weeks later when they reconciled their statement. This was the very day the charge was made.

Now this greatly alarmed me. We take people’s trust in us very seriously, especially when it comes to handling their sensitive financial information. At first I had a sense of disbelief that accidentally charging the wrong person’s credit card was even possible. But, as I soon found out, it had happened, and it was due to an unforeseen breakdown in how we processed charges. I won’t go into all the details, but it is worth noting that even though we had this system in place for years without problems, the problem was apparent now and needed fixing.

Turning Problems into Opportunities

Thinking that customer relations problems were opportunities to build trust, we have always handled resolution by doing the right thing, fixing the product or refunding their money. But for some reason, in this situation, it did not feel like enough. It wasn’t because I had thought it through or heard advice about it. I just knew that we needed to fix the system and then share that information with the customer, to demonstrate that we had a conscious plan of correction for the future.

Building Trust

I was right. The customer quickly responded with gratitude. She had received a brief but detailed plan of prevention and was assured that the mistake would not occur again. And, of course, the charge was quickly reversed on her credit card.  

There has been so much to learn from this situation. When faced with a problem that involves trust, actually sharing a corrective plan of action with the wronged party goes way beyond just making it right by doing the right thing.


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Business Values: What Do We Really Want?

December 12, 2018
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Every business is known by it’s priorities and what it chooses to offer to customers. If customers look only at price and stuff like “free shipping” when  choosing whether to do business with my company, something is not right. There are other business values that are very important and actually essential in earning the customer’s trust.

As a small business owner in today’s marketplace this is a daily tension for me. How far can I go in discounting our products or services to match our competitors, and still feel like I can afford to offer what I we really want to give – great service and satisfaction? How far?

I hate finding myself in that spot, that place where I have cut my margins so low that if anything goes wrong and I make it right, I may lose money. On my part, fundamentally great service has a cost attached to it, but I still want to feel good about standing behind my work. It is at this point that I have to remind myself that I can always find ways to earn back the money, but the trust – that is much more difficult to earn back.  When customers lose trust, it can infect a business like a virus.

Perks like free shipping are valuable and attract attention but will not always result in customer loyalty. Other business values that produce trust are very important. The struggle is to convince myself and my customers that my product may be worth a little more because I plan to be around for them, with great service, personal attention and integrity, for the long haul.

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