We all know that the key to happy customers, satisfied bosses and jubilant investors is to exceed their expectations. In a world where everyone expects everything to be ready instantaneously it can be hard to build up trust and credibility in their eyes. How can we build trust when everyone seems to be constantly be looking for a reason to be dissatisfied? Promise less and deliver more – strategically.
How to Build Trust Strategically
Remember to Account for a Margin of Error
Wouldn’t it be grand if everything you did had the Midas Touch when it came to projects? Everything always ran smoothly, shipments were never delayed, no one ever got sick or a customer never did a 180 and you found yourself back at step one halfway to completion? The truth is – that’s unrealistic. As is setting a tight timeline that would require an act of God to reach it. You don’t build trust by missing deadlines or by telling people what you think they want to hear. For trust building, they want to hear the truth. Allow yourself time for any disaster that might loom. If you’re dealing with an historically fickle account – add two weeks in for any drastic turnarounds they might throw your way. Don’t tell investors you’ll have your first product next month when you know it will likely take two or three. Credibility begins with honesty.
Have you ever watched an infomercial and rolled your eyes at the ludicrous claims being made about the product? Have you ever done an internal check on the messages you’re sending to your client, managers or investors? If something doesn’t fall into your wheel house as a company or as an employee – make it known. Don’t promise on something you can’t deliver. If your manager is asking for a research analysis and you’ve never been trained on it – speak up. If you’re forecasting growth for your start up, lay out a realistic plan with milestones you can achieve. Once you hit one and then another, investors will begin to trust your leadership. It is far worse to disappoint the other party when you’ve already committed to doing something for them. That just sets you up for challenges with clients, investors or your manager. Make sure the expectations are clear to you and articulate them well. Then everyone is on the same page.
Pay More Than Lip Service
Service is one of the most effective ways to build trust and deliver more. If you’re working on a vital project that you know has your manager worried – do him or her the service of providing a daily update at the end of day with the action items that need to be addressed tomorrow. Those five minutes of your day not only provide reassurance to them that you are on top of things but they also arm your manager with the information they may need to go back to the CEO or the client. Provide clients with exceptional service as well. Send updates daily on the status of a project, provide phone numbers and emails to contacts within the company that they might need to talk to and be proactive in informing them of any changes or delays. Service can be as simple as suggesting an alternative printing process to save them money in the long run. Your eye for detail and thoroughness won’t go unnoticed.
Increase Your Internal Expectations
The number one way to deliver more is to expect more internally than is expected externally. If your manager wants a project ready by Wednesday, make your deadline Monday. If she wants a list of competitors – provide a list of competitors, their sales numbers from last year and key rollouts. The same applies to clients and investors – go beyond the minimum. Provide sales growth or declines but also what product improvements or changes could be made to improve numbers. Offer cost savings options or alternatives they might not have considered. In any situation – ask what you can do internally that will help build trust externally.
Under promising and over delivering is not about lowering expectations or deceiving others. It’s about being transparent, clear, realistic, reliable and honest. Look past the bare essentials to what can produce the greatest good for all parties involved. Unexpected surprises can be welcome when they come in the form of exceeding expectations.