6 Proven Ways to Build Trust with Your Clients

Three missed calls after my lunch break. Several emails in my inbox, all from the same client. Everybody working in advertising probably knows this situation. Did you know that building trust with a client can make things a lot easier?

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Stop Micromanagers, Build Trust

Micromanaging Harms Quality

Clients who constantly call you are trying to make sure you are on track. But micromanaging is not healthy, neither for your client nor for you. The Journal of Experimental Psychology even demonstrated that people who believe they are being watched perform at a lower level. Let’s face it – being micromanaged is frustrating and bad for work quality.

Build Trust to Gain Productivity

So why do some customers try to control you? Try to step in the shoes of your client. He or she is probably just worried that you are not able to handle the project. In other words: he or she doesn’t trust you … yet. It’s your job to build this mutual trust.

6 Excellent Ways to Build Trust

1. Make it Personal: Liking

One of the best ways to build trust is to make friends with somebody. Amiability is the backbone of every friendship. People tend to like each other when they have similarities. So try to find points you have in common with your client. This could be your favorite cuisine, a style of music, a sports team you both follow or brands you both admire.

The more you have in common the more trust you will gain. Use social media to do some research about your client. Try to find commonalities. Share personal information in social networks about yourself too, so your clients finds thing about you.

You can also make up similarities. But I would strongly recommend to not do this. If this deceit is made you will lose all sympathy and trust at once.

Secret Weapon

The psychologist Robert Cialdini made an excellent experiment about “liking.” To illustrate his point that recipients tend to be more responsive to people they like he did the following email test: They changed the “From:” field to a name that resembled the name of the person they were sending a survey to. E.g. When sending to someone named Ben Miller, the changed the senders name to Benjamin Milton. Recipients with resembled names were 2.5 times more likely to fill out the survey.

2. Listen Closely and Be Curious about People

Active listening is one of the skills everyone handling clients should internalize. Try to perceive things that are important to your client. Replay some facts in a previous conversation that demonstrate that you listened carefully.

To listen carefully means to get to know your client. Try to ask open-ended questions instead of simple closed yes and no questions. Ask further questions based on what your client said. This shows that you care about his or her wishes and problems.

A good habit to build trust is to send follow-up emails after meetings and longer phone calls. Sum up the important things and the decisions made. This will also help you to remember facts later on.

3. Be Present, Communicate Actively

Do you know why people remain at work as long as their bosses do? Even if they don’t have a single task more to work on? There is a reason for that.

Being present is strongly related to high dedication. People value others for showing commitment and effort. It means that you are the right person for the job.

If you work remotely, showing your face and being present is mostly not possible. But how can you show dedication without sitting on your clients lap?

  • Be accessible to your clients and communicate actively on a regular basis. Clients value accessibility. It means that you are responsible and that you take care for them. Clients usually tend to reduce their micromanaging behavior if you consistently keep them in the loop.
  • Try to share good ideas and helpful resources with your clients. If you find articles that fit the client’s situation, send them a link and comment why you think it’s helpful. It demonstrates to them your deeper understanding.
  • Give your clients updates on a regular basis. Write e-mails, for example, showing the progress on a project. Show what’s happened, what’s done and what comes next on the agenda.

4. Stick to Your Words, Be Consistent

“Trust is built with consistency.”
To build trust it’s important to act consistently. It makes you reliable. So never promise what you can’t deliver.
Even if you promise small things that you can’t follow through, this can have bad repercussions. Your clients evaluate you by your ability to stick to your commitments. If you promise something you can’t finally act on, you lose trust and look less honest.
If you promise something, stick to it. Even if that means you have to work overtime. It shows that you are reliable.

5. Be Honest, Address Problems

Let’s face it. It happens to the best of us. There will always be cases when you just can’t stick to promises. Sometimes it’s just bad luck, or somebody else you depend on has not delivered yet.
Clients are smart. They know when you’re being misleading. Don’t play games, and don’t try to hide problems. Your clients appreciate honesty.
What makes the difference is being honest about the issue. Address the problem as early as possible and present a way you want to fix it. Also, show steps that prevent the errors from occurring in the future. Just prove that you do your best.

6. Don’t Gossip Around

Last, but not least. Don’t tell secrets and don’t gossip about clients. There is a big chance that it will come back and hit you.

If you talk about clients in front of other clients they will probably think: “If they talk like this about other clients, how will they talk about me?” “Is my business in good hands here?” “Can I trust them?”

Integrity is the foundation of trust. If your clients are worried about being betrayed by you, they will not continue to do business with you.


HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: Do You Have What it Takes to be a Successful Freelance Designer?

Key Takeaways

I believe that trust is the foundation of every relationship. If your clients don’t trust you, work is less productive and way less fun.

The Ultimate List to Build Trust

There are many different techniques to build trust. From my own personal experience I would recommend these tactics:

  1. Find similarities with your clients and try to establish a personal relationship based on them.
  2. Listen closely and be curious about your clients.
  3. Communicate actively, share helpful articles and give regular reports about the state of a project.
  4. Never promise what you can’t deliver. Stick to your promises.
  5. Be honest about promises you can’t keep and present ways to fix it.
  6. Never talk bad about clients. Never share information that’s not made for public.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: How To Become a Successful Freelance Designer

We at Filestage would love to hear about your ways to establish a trustworthy relationship with your clients. What are your best practices? Did this article help you overcome obstacles you face? Please feel free to share it.

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