Nothing builds trust like good results
Results are the third major building block of trust after customer orientation and competence. What could be more convincing than a series of successful references? The best way to communicate them varies depending on the industry. If you are currently planning a website relaunch and have not yet deployed this module on your website, you should definitely do so.
What are relevant results?
First of all, it is important to find out which results are worth communicating at all. With the exception of very few specialists, today's business world is characterised by a high degree of competition. Whether I'm looking for a craftsman, a lawyer, a doctor or a communications agency - I have many to choose from in any case. It's similar in the B2B sector. Here, competitors are often not to be found in the same country, but are nevertheless present and also active in one's own sales territory. Whether it is the mechanical engineering company with competitors from Italy and China or the construction machinery manufacturer with competitors from Sweden and the USA or the software manufacturer with competitors from England and, in case of doubt, the USA, they all have to consider which results are worth showing in comparison to their competitors.
If you are not a price leader, the simple rule is: Be with the best!.
And also only in those areas in which you consider yourself to be among the best in your field should you document the results.
For trustworthiness, it is enormously important not to promise too much and, in case of doubt, to deliver more than the customer expected. Enriching one's own products with supplements that are important for later use is an effective means here. If the carpenter not only gives me personal instruction in the handling and care of the new built-in furniture, but also an attractive wooden box with the basic set of care products, this is an additional service that I give him credit for. Or if the machine builder provides a login area free of charge where I can follow the maintenance intervals of the machine and see live the current condition of my new major investment. So it's worth thinking about what questions the customer will have about my product or service immediately after the handover. Handing him the appropriate answers without being asked in connection with the handover creates a feeling of overachievement in him. Be Mister 120%!
If you belong to the best, awards and distinctions are valuable evidence that you should not miss. They document the outstanding results of one's own work in a striking way. My recommendation here is not only to list the awards you have won in a logo series, but to link them to your client.
Awards + Connection
If you have built the fastest electronic component in your industry and receive an award for it, this speed has a benefit and a meaning for your customer. He can use it, for example, to have certain processes calculated more quickly, which has the benefit of saving heating energy. Or if you win a design award, it has the benefit of the beauty of the product, which you can enjoy every day and which leads to it feeling particularly pleasant in the hand. Or is particularly easy to use. Or simply looks much cooler than the competing products.
It therefore makes sense to write a short sentence for each award that establishes the connection to the customer briefly and succinctly.
For the interior designer, there is hardly a better tool than to show the newly furnished flat before the remodelling and afterwards. The effect should be immediately obvious. If it is not, she has missed her job. Photo spreads with before and after pictures are purposeful in all professions where something is changed. This does not only apply to design. Surely you have seen such photos from gyms or weight loss guides. You can think about how your company changes things. Even if the service is not visible, as in the case of counselling, the person being counseled changes. A facial expression can speak volumes.
The perfect statement
In my digital agency, I experienced it again and again and did it completely wrong at the beginning. We simply asked our client for statements from their customers. The answer was almost always that it was difficult to get them. If we then asked emphatically, we often got two or three statements ("If you knew how difficult it was to get them ....") in the second attempt - unfortunately unusable. The statements were in the style of "We were actually always satisfied" or "Mr Meier, who is unfortunately no longer here, was a good contact person". You can't imagine the bizarre sentences we were presented with. Even a well-intentioned endless stringing together of everything that was great is neither credible nor convincing.
We have therefore developed a questionnaire that directly targets the results. When answering, the client describes what his starting point was, what result he was aiming for and how he got there with the help of the provider. Since in this area, as everywhere on the internet, no one likes to read long texts, the spice is in the brevity.
Apart from the direct statement on the page (ideally as a video), there is also the possibility to copy statements from online evaluations and to insert them on your own page.
If you are a new start-up and do not yet have many customer statements, you can think about letting other people have their say. Think of opinion leaders or partner companies who report on why they like working with the company based on the great results.
And what if the results are not so great?
The handling of mistakes is an essential point for the trustworthiness of the company. Mistakes happen everywhere. They are human and cannot be prevented even by the best four-eyes principle. What matters is how you deal with them.
The 3 steps when something goes wrong
- You apologise. Important: This is where the boss comes in. Mistakes are always delegated upwards, never downwards. In any case, it is disastrous for credibility if the boss tries to make it clear to the customer that it was "only" an employee who was responsible for the mistake. In case of doubt, the boss was responsible for hiring the employee, for the leadership and guidance and the organisation that should have prevented the mistake. It can therefore never be the employee who has to bear the responsibility. It is always the boss who must apologise.
- You fix it. And you fix it fast. And without any discussion about responsibility. There is nothing more unpleasant about unsatisfactory work than a supplier who tries to make it clear to you that the unsatisfactory product is actually okay. Trust is then lost in any case. Unfortunately, the flood of lawsuits for damages before German courts shows that in this area, self-evidence has been lost.
- Learn from your mistakes and draw consequences. At this point I have to correct my statement under point 1 insofar as the consequence can also lie in the realisation that the employee is not optimally deployed in this position. Then perhaps something has to be changed. Of course, it can also be that one's own service does not function optimally in certain contexts.
It is very worthwhile to think about how you communicate responsibility for your own mistakes to new clients. I remember well the website of an IT service provider that had the boss right on the home page with the statement: "I'll bake out what I bake in for you." Does that inspire confidence? I think no. After all, you shouldn't make too many mistakes either.
My recommendation is a separate paragraph or sub-chapter in the Service section.
Responsibility as a service point
When I read here that the company takes responsibility for its own mistakes and what the process looks like, it creates trust. You don't have to talk about mistakes if you want to avoid the word. But it is quite possible to report that projects can sometimes run longer than planned and that the necessary resources are then still available in any case. Or that a special service has been organised that can find a solution over the weekend in case of an emergency.
Results are one of the most important tools for generating trust among potential new customers. It therefore pays to think carefully about what results should be communicated in content creation and how best, and how you as a company generally take responsibility for your results.