Distinctive People Podcast – Trust & Customer Service with Jo Leckie

In Episode 10 of the Distinctive People Podcast, Denise Kirkham talks to Jo Leckie of Big Picture Training, about the link between trust and customer service.

Listen to the episode below:

Read the Blog Post Below: 

TRUST – You can’t just say “trust me”

Trust is the foundation of all relationships.   I can’t just say “Trust me” and you will.  Trust takes time to build, and once you’ve lost it, it’s hard to recover.

Studies show that people may decide on your trustworthiness in as little as a tenth of a second.

Think of someone you trust.  Why do you trust them?

It’s likely that you trust some people more than others because you know where you stand with them, they’re honest, they aren’t judgemental, you can rely on them to do what they say they’re going to do and overall, you feel safe around them.

When social housing providers were making welfare calls at the height of the Pandemic, customers said they were surprised to receive a welfare call from their landlord because they didn’t think they cared. 

That mortified me, given that I’ve worked in the sector for 30 years because I want to make a difference, but it was also a reality check.

This is just one example of a golden nugget of honest feedback, that proves the need for social landlords to build trust and change the dynamic of their relationships with their customers.

At Big Picture Training, we’re hearing the same feedback time and time again.  Customers don’t trust their landlord.  So, what can social landlords do to rebuild their customer’s trust?

Let me share a personal story with you.

My laptop stopped working three days before I was due to travel to Australia.  I called HP and told them I needed a repair or a replacement urgently.  My laptop is my business.  If I have no laptop, I can’t work. They advised that they could repair my laptop, which would take at least 10 days, or they could send me a refurbished one the following working day.  I opted for the refurbished option.  I didn’t have 10 days to wait.

When I hadn’t heard from HP, the following day, I called them.  They advised me they wouldn’t be able to send me a refurbished laptop.  That option simply wasn’t and never had been available. Someone was lying somewhere down the line and it wasn’t me.

I completely lost trust in HP right there and then.  They didn’t do what they said they were going to do; they were dishonest and showed no empathy or concern for my situation.

Despite the fact I am typing this blog on my newly repaired laptop (it took three months to sort out) they haven’t regained my trust.  I will buy another brand when this laptop gives up the ghost again, which I believe it will, because I’ve completely lost trust in the organisation, their customer service and their products.  They acknowledged the delay when they returned my laptop to me but they didn’t apologise!  I scoured the letter for an apology. Nothing.

Why did the first Customer Service Advisor offer me a refurbished laptop if that was never an option?

It raised questions for me about whether employees are living the organisational values at HP.  So, I checked their values, which are:

  • Trust and respect for individuals. We work together to create a culture of inclusion built on trust, respect and dignity for all.
  • Achievement and contribution.
  • Results through teamwork.
  • Meaningful innovation.
  • Uncompromising integrity.

Something is clearly very wrong at HP, because employees definitely aren’t living the organisation’s values.

So, going back to my original question, how do social landlords rebuild trust with customers?

Let’s learn from HP.

  • They need to apologise and apologise well! I’ve spent three months using an old laptop.   It’s been a huge inconvenience which involved many costly workarounds.
  • When I provide them with feedback on their service, they’ll need to prove to me that they’ve listened and learned.
  • Next time I need their help, they’ll need to be empathetic, show concern and go out of their way to attempt to help me out in a way that meets both of our needs. An 8-day turnaround didn’t suit me.  A refurbished or replacement laptop or a laptop on loan would have. Ask me what I want and then deliver!
  • They’ll need to be honest at the outset and prove their integrity.

And all of that starts with organisational culture.

Organisational culture is an important driver of a positive employee experience.  When employees feel aligned with company values and feel respected, trusted and valued by the organisation they work for, they will uphold those values with pride. They will feel a sense of belonging and connectedness that will enable them to deliver on the standards and promises you make to your customers.

In short, if you want your employees to care about your customers, you need to have a culture that builds trust and cares for your employees too.

Author:  Jo Leckie – Big Picture Training & Learning Design  www.bigpicturetraining.com