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Customer Service Leaders Share Tips for Building Trust

Webster’s Dictionary defines trust as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Trust is non-negotiable for relationships, and that includes the relationship between a brand and its customers. That’s why the official theme for National Customer Service Week 2017 is “Building Trust.”

Why is building trust so crucial for the modern customer experience, and what can companies do to increase confidence in their brand? We asked a few of our Top 50 Thought Leaders to weigh in, and you’ll find their responses below.

We also asked members of the #ICMIchat community to share their best advice for building trust with agents. After all, the customer experience has a lot to do with the employee experience. Watch this quick video to see 13 tips for building trust with your employees.

Happy Customer Service Week!


"Do WHAT you say you are going to do WHEN you say you are going to do it. This is the cornerstone of customer service and the foundation of trust that permits you to sell additional products and services!" 

-Teresa Allen | @TeresaAllen

"Building trust in customer service can be boiled down to giving accurate information and delivering your service or product promptly and of the quality that your customer expects. To build trust faster, provide these things faster, with higher quality than expected, and with minimal effort.” 

-Patrick Russell | @Patrick_SaaS

“Building trust is necessary for customer service because it secures your company identity as one that does what they say they will do. When building trust with customers, there is no complicated formula. Through communication and follow through, you're on your way to a trusting relationship.”

-Jenny Dempsey | @jennysuedempsey

"There is a very good reason Patrick Lencioni placed trust as the foundation of his famous 'Five Dysfunctions of a Team' pyramid.  If you do not build from a cornerstone of trust, you are placing a house on sand.  When employees believe that their leaders and their peers are capable of supporting customers well, you transcend the 'babysitting' culture that can often be found in many contact centers.  Hire great people, and then offer the trust and freedom to be great in their own way."

-Nate Brown | @customerisfirst

“Trust is built by anticipating what can go wrong. Clear expectations are essential because misunderstandings can undermine trust. Keeping promises requires you to visualize potential obstacles ahead of time so can avoid them. Proactive communication prevents bad surprises by making sure customers are never caught off guard.” 

-Jeff Toister | @toister

“Trust is the backbone of all healthy relationships. Customer service is no exception. If a friend never calls back, is never available, and talks behind your back, how long will you be friends? There's no reliability and consistency in that relationship. Apply this same logic to customer service and long, fruitful relationships will result.” 

-Jeremy Watkin | @jtwatkin

“Trust is filling the gap between a promise made (or implied) and a promise kept; between expectation and experience.  How an organization manages that gap signals to its customers whether they care.” 

-Chip Bell | @ChipRBell

“Trust must be earned! Understand that customers want reliable service with respect and empathy. Providing this establishes a foundation of trust, but more is required. Build upon it through communication, feedback, transparency, honesty, and appreciation for your customer. In short, make them a part of your company and your journey.” 

-Sean Hawkins | @SeanBHawkins

“Build trust by not scamming your customers. No hidden fees. No nonsense. When customers contact you with service issues, be easy to reach. Know them and where they are in their journey, so they don't have to repeat themselves. Trust is a two-way street, and the companies that behave this way trust their customers.” 

-Blake Morgan | @BlakeMichelleM

“There is an old saying: People like to do business with people they know like and trust. The knowing and liking are easy. The trust part is hard. But, when you get it, the customer likes it and is more likely to come back and continue to do business with you. Trust turns into confidence, and confidence (over time) can potentially turn into customer loyalty.”

-Shep Hyken | @hyken