The Best View Comes After The Hardest Climb​: 3 Practical Tips To Regain Trust

The plan was to hike the Lac Blanc trail in Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France.  Famous the world over for its reflections of the Mont-Blanc Massif and its clear waters, my family decided to hike this during our summer vacation.

We did our homework: read the guide books, watched YouTube, increased our physical endurance, got the right backpacks and footwear. We upped our physical strength to have the ability to boulder and climb.

The scenery was breathtaking however, the terrain was difficult, strenuous and unforgiving. Ten minutes into the hike I realized to not slip and fall over the edge required focus.

There were several times along the way I worried my legs would give out, and many times I gave myself a talking to. I’d say, “you can do this, one foot in front of the other, you trained, you have the right gear and tools to get there, you’ve got this.”

With commitment, deliberate actions, the right skills and conditioning anyone can overcome the boulders and the rugged terrain.  Just like in business.

When we arrived, we found a perfect ledge to sit on to admire the awe-inspiring views.  The muscle burn and sweat was worth the magnificent scenery.

While sitting there, I thought about my client, who refers to their journey as climbing a mountain. This US manufacturing company has climbed many mountains over the last few years.

The manufacturing company reached the summit of their first mountain in August 2020 when they came out with a new product during the pandemic. Revenues increased, employees and customers were thrilled.  

Twelve months later, they found themselves at the base of steeper mountain.   The global supply chain crisis impacted production, prices, lead times, employee morale and customer experience. Customers and distributors complained, deliveries and deadlines missed, they had to increase prices, and stress was at an all-time high – employees didn’t know what to tell customers.  

Internally and externally, tangible signs of the erosion of trust were there.  Long term customers threatened to switch to competition, and several cancelled orders.

They knew they were vulnerable; the trust they’d worked so hard to develop and cultivate was eroding.  One senior sales leader said, “I can feel the trust slipping away.”  

Like many companies in today’s business environment, most of the issues were out of the company’s control, so they focused on what they could control:

People, relationships, and making decisions based on evidence and facts.

They initiated a “Regain Trust” initiative.

Recognizing the number one trust risk point for every company is people, they invested in the people.  The entire team participated in building and regaining trust training. They wanted to ensure that everyone had the skills and the tools to manage customer expectations and knew how to rebuild trust with employees and customers.  

Customers responded positively; across the country customers and distributors  acknowledged the effort. Sales improved. Employee morale improved while the challenges with supply chain intensified.  

Focused and committed to the long term, they wanted to understand what the customer experience really was. They wanted a quantifiable metric - the Trust Equity™ score.

Success Though Trust surveyed 10,000 of their customers, using the Client Trust Index™  to gain a holistic view and their Trust Equity™ score. With this data and evidence we learned where the gaps and opportunities were.  We gathered actionable insights.

Through guided discussions and targeted training programs the team is getting back on the path.  Retention and revenues are improving.  Customers acknowledged the effort.

While your company may not have experienced an avalanche like this, we can all learn from their passion, customer focus, perseverance and drive to improve.

3 practical tips to reach the summit of your mountains and regain trust

  1. Preparation is Key. No two mountains are the same and no two customers are the same.  Some relationships are straight forward, they are easy, you “just click”, however, others are twisty and can be challenging at times.  Having the right skillset is key. 

In todays environment we need relationship building skills including how to build trust and become a trusted advisor. Trusted advisors know how to connect, build confidence, manage expectations, deliver value and offer advice during uncertainty.  Do your colleagues have the right tools and the skills to climb the mountain?  

  1. Be Deliberate. Make the deposits in the relationships, invest in putting the time in to learn the skills to prepare for the obstacles. Focus on what you can manage. People, relationships, and making decisions based on evidence and facts. 
  2. Momentum– Once you have momentum it's harder to stop you. Many mountains are climbed because of momentum.   It’s one foot in front of the other. As I wrote about in my book, Nike founder Phil Knight said “just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there…” In his autobiography 50 years later, he wrote, “Half a century later, I believe it’s the best advice — maybe the only advice — any of us should ever give.”  

My advice to you is to never stop building trust with your customers, employees colleagues and stakeholders. It’s one trust deposit after another.  Never stop applying the Principles of Trust to your relationships.

Committing to the long term and adopting a trusted advisor mindset is the number one driver to building a customer focused trust culture.

And, Trust is the single greatest competitive advantage in any business.  

If you're in a similar situation that my client was in, please book a call with me. I'd be happy to share more tips and best practices with you.