How to build customer trust – by saying no

One of the great things about our clients is that they share a certain enthusiasm in being very much involved with their online presence to ensure that their brands can become the pillars of awesomeness that they’ve always envisioned.

We have clients all the time who will return to us after a project, ready to slug another one out of the park. For example, we hear this one a lot:

“You built us this great website years ago and I now hear that mobile is the bombdiggity. Can you build us a mobile site?” – Excited Client

Absolutely, we could build them a mobile website. But we didn’t gain this person’s trust by just being complacent yes men. Before we jump in too deep, it’s always important to analyze recent results and assess the real need for a mobile website. In some particular cases, there can be other pressing issues on the site or the overall online brand that could use some attention long before making a decision on moving to mobile.

ROI matters. It's all about the Benjamins, baby. Or in our case, the Sir Robert Bordens.

So, sticking with that example, after respectfully walking the client through the pros and cons, in some cases we may come to find out that the client just isn’t ready for a mobile website. Instead we might find and recommend that the client is in a position to investment in other areas like content development or online online ordering, for example.

Often, what happens next is one of the best compliments that a business can receive. The client responds with “Well, I trust your recommendation, Jeremy. What do we need to do?”

So how did we just build customer trust by refusing work?

1. Needs and wants are not the same thing

It can be hard to curb the enthusiasm of immediate work, however the greater good needs to prevail. If we keep that filter on when we review client ideas it usually becomes a win for all parties involved.

2. Don’t be afraid of losing the work or losing the client

It can also be frightening to say no to potential leads or even current clients. There’s always that risk that if you don’t take the job, they will simply find someone else. Be confident in your abilities as a professional and more often than not, the client will respect your recommendations.

3. Always have an alternative plan

Help that client see why an idea might not in their best interest. There may be other methods to achieve the same goal. It might require some extra work but it’s important that you don’t leave them without a plan of attack.

4. Be respectful

You want to keep the client hungry and always brewing up new ideas. That’s why it’s also important help them identify potential problems and lead them through any alternative plans. Remember that they choose you for a reason, so be respectful enough to qualify their ideas.

5. The truth shall prevail

Nothing gains trust and respect like the truth. You need to decide if you want to form a lasting business relationship with the client. We’ve retained the majority of our clients by simply being as straightforward and truthful as possible. If you don’t believe a certain idea or project is beneficial to the client, let them know and explain why and how they can achieve a better ROI. That’s how you build trust.

Don’t be a Steve Miller. For the record, Billy Joe and Bobby Sue had some less than reputable business ethics.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


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Fusebox Creative | 160 Millennium Blvd – Suite B, Moncton, New Brunswick Canada | Phone: 506-855-3591