Trust has always been important in the world of business. You only have to consider the kind of reputation used car salesmen have, and the huge amount of lost revenue that collectively they must suffer as a result, to see that this is so. But in the modern age, when information and feedback can be posted on the Internet within minutes for the whole world to read, it is crucial if you are to succeed in business and commerce that you do not develop a reputation as a dealer who lacks credibility or who cannot be trusted to engage with customers in an honorable and honest way. One bad review strategically placed can undo months or even years of hard work and hinder your progress forever.
The importance of this cannot be overstated. Business itself has a bad name in some circles, when it becomes associated in the public mind with the notion of profit at any cost, devoid either of social responsibility or of any concern for the working conditions of employees or for the rights of consumers. This is unfair when taking business as a whole, but it is undoubtedly the case that there are some companies that do little to discourage such a view of themselves. This article in The Economist has some interesting things to say on this, albeit from a British perspective.
The Credibility Factor
Trust and credibility are two factors which walk hand in hand when it comes to enterprise. Bad reviews damage credibility every bit as much as they damage trust. A business which cannot manage its own public image is just not considered to be in control. Whether you are a trader dealing the best new york surety bonds or a street corner vendor selling ice cream, the very least you need is to be taken seriously.
The essence of good business management is communication. Fortunately there has never been an easier time to communicate than today, with social media opening up channels of contact between world leaders and common citizenry, between cultural icons and adoring fans, between business owners and both service users and service providers on the production line. Today there really is no excuse for not keeping everybody informed who needs to be informed.
The Art of Managing Expectations
It is beyond doubt that expectations can at times be unreasonable, and that there will be occasions when criticisms are made which cannot in good sense be justified. But that is not a good reason for ignoring them, nor for using unfair criticism as a pretext for inviting opprobrium which has a real basis in fact. Most negative reaction can be avoided through the simple expedient of communicating, of managing expectations by letting complainants know that a response will be forthcoming and giving them an indication as to when and by what means.
Good customer service is above all about making clients feel valued, and that their custom and continued loyalty is appreciated. Any business that fails to engage on such a basic level does so at its peril.