Remember playing the trust game? You know, the one where someone stands behind you holding out their arms, waiting to catch you when you fall. The game excitement is nestled in the plunge you take, believing that a set of arms are there, ready to seize your body before it hits the ground.
Have you been that person? The one who must look straight ahead at what is right in front of them and tumble backward with fingers crossed, trusting that you will be caught.
Think back to the feelings that flowed from heart to head. Emotions threaten to paralyze you, causing you to play a game of freeze tag instead. Fear that the catcher will miss. Or worse, they are too weak to sustain your weight, and you slip right out of their hands. You see the pain and trauma that could occur versus the safety and protection that awaits ahead. Yet, a decision must be made. Will you stand there like a deer in headlights, or will you fall? Door one or Door two? Everyone is waiting on you with bulging stares, biting their nails, anticipating what you will choose.
The pressure, right? It's only a game. Or is it?
Let's reverse it for a minute. Instead of you being the person descending backward, imagine being that one doing the catching. An individual is standing there with their back turned to you, and their greatest hope is that your arms are there and are strong enough to hold them when they fall. They are putting everything on you. They're counting on you, believing in you, and dare we say, trusting you! Tag, you're it.
Let's make it even more real. It's not a game at all. It is far from playtime. That person positioned there before you, ready to deep dive rearward, is your audience. Oh yes! That target segment group is more than just an answer to your bottom line. They are the member, the client, the business, the donor, the partner—the customer entrusting you to meet their needs. And when they decide to conduct business with you, more than a service, program, or product, they hope to receive an equitable transaction.
A few years back, Metro Tribal, a market insight and brand story development firm, and the Council of Better Business Bureaus partnered to conduct a research project examining how consumers think about business interactions. The goal was to define what a better business is and reveal best practices that companies can follow to be deemed noteworthy in the eyes of their audience. The study resulted in the Five Gestures of Trust. In its simplest form, these results suggest: That our audience is inspired to trust us when we meet their expectation of respect. Those we serve look for businesses to exhibit certain "gestures," or behaviors, that signify how likely we are to make them feel respected and, in turn, gain their trust.
Understanding the notion of "respecting the customer" becomes even more critical in an economy experiencing rapid inflation. Prices increasing overnight only inflicts one kind of response, "hold on tighter." Inflation causes us all to react like a lady who clutches her purse a little closer to her bosom when a suspicious individual passes her by.
When dollars are staying in wallets, the one sure thing that will make the difference is the relationship you have built with your customer along the way. What have you done to earn your audience's trust in your interactions, specifically the transaction? When the economy is spinning, and more is on the line or at stake, your customer will only fall into the arms of the business they are confident will catch them. Is that you?
Reach out to THuS Marketing to learn more about how you can use marketing and communications not only to humanize your relationship with your audience but build a trusted one.