7 Surefire Ways to Lose Someone’s Trust (and Business)

Losing Someone's TrustRecently I was on the receiving end of an incredibly poor bit of customer service from someone I know and trust.  I am an incredibly local customer and a pretty reasonable person (hey, I know stuff happens and can roll with it) and yet there are some things that are simply deal breakers.

I’ll be the first to say that it pains me when I have to say goodbye to a service provider or company I love. Yet what I’ve learned the hard way is that hanging on or trying to sweep your concerns under the carpet because you don’t want anyone to feel badly is a fast path to compromising your own values, ignoring your own needs and deteriorating a relationship until it sours irrevocably.

I’d invite you to read the rest of this article through two lenses: The first lens: that of a business owner serving customers and the second lens: that of a customer partaking in someone else’s service.   Why?

If you’re a business owner you can’t possibly make these mistakes and expect to have positive customer relationships and a thriving business.  If you’re a customer (and we are all customers), you deserve to be respected and valued.  Your choice of where you spend your money and energy speaks volumes and is a direct reflection of the priorities in your life and your own self-esteem.

  1. Not Doing What You Say
    Nothing breeds distrust and unreliability like saying one thing and doing another.  It’s not hard to do what you say. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.  And by all means don’t say something if you don’t mean it.
  2. Not Showing Up
    Just as destructive as not doing what you say, blowing people off feels even worse.  It sends the message to them that they don’t matter and that you don’t respect them. If something out of the ordinary happens and you need to miss an appointment/connection with a customer you absolutely need to make things right by communicating swiftly and fully.
  3. Lack of Communication
    Mistakes happen. Deadlines get missed.  Emergencies and life moments intervene into even the best-laid plans and intentions.  People understand this. That said, you must communicate. Nothing puts the nail in the coffin and fuels an exodus like nonexistent or questionable communication.
  4. Not Listening to What Your Customers Say
    Do you actually listen to what your customers tell you?  Or do you let it go in one ear and out the other while nodding politely?  I can think of one service provider I worked with who never ever listened to what I said.  I felt ignored and after repeated attempts at making my concerns known (and subsequently ignored), I simply gave up and took my business elsewhere.
  5. Inconsistent/Nonexistent Follow Up and Follow Through
    Do you vanish into the mist after you promise something? Very similar to not doing what you say, not following through just screams unreliable.  Who wants to work with someone that is unreliable? No one I know.  You can put on a great show and network like crazy but if you don’t follow through you may as well stay home on the couch.
  6. Ignoring Customer Needs and Requests
    No one is better at ignoring requests than my local gym.  Like a suave politician, the owner pretends he cares, but then answers you in a way that lets you know he doesn’t care and isn’t doing anything about it.  While you certainly cannot bend to every customer whim and desire (that’s a recipe for failure) you do want to honestly acknowledge and respond to the needs and requests of those you serve.  If you keep hearing the same request over and over, see if there is a way you can meet that need in a way that feels good to you (new offering, service, referral, etc.).
  7. Doing a Half-Baked Job
    A quality job and a job done right is crucial.  Performance is a reflection of attitude. In today’s world with so many instances of slipshod work and poor customer service, you can set yourself apart with attention to detail and high quality service.


It’s not hard to avoid these 7 deadly sins…it just takes a conscious mindset and a willingness to be present with those you serve (and are served by).  And it makes all the difference in the world to your business and those you serve.  Go above and beyond and appreciate those you work with.  A simple note of gratitude warms the heart on both sides.


Credit Image: llreadll on Flickr
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