As we reflect back on this past year, I will remember 2008 as a standout year when the word TRUST seems to have faded away in the world of business, government and personal relationships. Just considering the repercussions that Bernard L. Madoff had on his client's lives, it's difficult to believe that unconditional TRUST can be placed in the hands of your smiling investment adviser anytime soon.
Instant communication and the Internet definitely shrunk the size of our world. Bernard Madoff's scheme not only affected individuals, organizations and charitable foundations in his back yard, but also had an impact on those located around the world. His example illustrates the sad state of trust in modern society.
I believe that the magic bullet for the future to maintain and grow your business will be how well you maintain and develop a trusting relationship with your customers.
Corporations are spending millions on CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, to help them build meaningful relationships with their best clients. This strategy isn't new, because that's the exact strategy that always made a small entrepreneur superior over the large corporation. However, are they really using this information to build trust and to service their clients better, or are they using it to sell their information to others for a profit?
A close trusting relationship with customers creates a loyal customer who wants to do business with you. These customers probably like you and most of all they TRUST YOU! This is where the word FIDUCIARY comes in.
A Fiduciary is someone who is looking out for your best interests. The person you may choose to be the executor of your will or the bank who acts as your trustee. It is a very powerful word because a fiduciary would ALWAYS put the interests of their client above their own.
How do you think your customers would feel about you and your business if they believed that you displayed this high degree of loyalty to them? If they felt that you practiced the highest standards of responsibility, confidentiality and trust; that you put your immediate gain second to their satisfaction and loyalty to you?
As a businessperson, I always believed that my greatest asset was my trusting relationships with my client. There is no room for compromise when it comes to trust. And putting my client's needs and interests ahead of my company's short term gains, always allowed my company to earn superior profits by attracting the best clients in the marketplace, who were willing to pay for our unique and extraordinary services.
These are powerful concepts to initiate into your business. I believe they are the quickest way to build and enhance your business into a profitable enterprise. There can be no stronger foundation for any relationship, than the practice of TRUST. Your customers will trust you when you build a reputation for COMING THROUGH ALL OF THE TIME! They know that what you provide will be there CONSISTENTLY without hearing lame excuses all the time.
I believe that the world's population craves to return to a time when we can TRUST each other again. Thinking like a fiduciary is the only way that this can happen. It's time to stop putting greed and self interest before TRUST. If not we will be heading down a path last seen in the middle ages or the wild west when we needed armor or had to carry guns on a holster when walking down a street, to protect ourselves from others.
There is no doubt in my mind that in 2008 the institutions like banks, brokerage houses and insurance companies, who stood for the pillars of trust in modern society have failed terribly in the trust department. I believe we all need to rethink our definition and philosophies regarding trust starting in our own lives and families and have these philosophies resonate into the business world and government.
Our world economy can only turn around and prosper if we RESTORE CONFIDENCE AND TRUST in the relationships between individuals and institutions. GREED must take a backseat to forming fiduciary relationships and rebuilding trust. Years ago a handshake would seal a deal because one's words and promises counted. Now we need 30 page documents instead. We need to reverse this trend somehow and get back to trusting each other. The process all starts with YOU and Me and those we can influence!