Customers Like Businesses They Trust

What does it take to make it—and keep making it—in business? Recently, it seems as if a number of companies that customers trusted for many years are closing their doors. Either their customers lost faith in their ability to provide goods or services, or they were involved in unethical scandals.

Who would have thought that some of the big players in the retail world would be finding it hard to get new customers and keep their once-loyal ones? The reason for their decline is that many of them forgot a key element of their success: Every business has to work every day to focus on its most important asset—the customer.

I believe that the true litmus test for business success is to gain and hold a buyer’s trust. In a study by the Booth-Harris Trust Monitor, 82 percent of consumers said “they have stopped using a company’s products when trust is broken.”*

What is one of the best ways to keep that trust? A business must be able to provide the goods and services it promises.

If you were to ask owners of retail stores why they decided to open up their own businesses, their answers would probably be something like these: “I saw a need for a product that no one else offered,” or “I knew I could offer the product in a larger quantity, in multiple sizes, with unique advertising, and with more creative displays, every day of the year.”

Those are the original dreams of all entrepreneurs. They also used to be the dreams of some major discounters many years ago. Their inventory reflected what the customers needed in the appropriate sizes, quantities, and price. Yet recently I read an article in my local newspaper that helped explain what went wrong with those discounters. A woman in the article said the reason she changed her loyalty from Kmart to Target was that Kmart always seemed to be out of the items it advertised. She said she didn’t want a rain check or a “blue light” special; she just wanted the advertised item. Is that request so complicated?

How can you ensure that your supply will match your customers’ demand?

Having the correct inventory is a matter of (1) managing your purchasing dollars to the customer demand, and (2) maintaining solid communication with the vendor so you can establish accurate delivery dates. Knowing the delivery dates of the merchandise you plan to advertise is critical for fulfilling your promise to your customers—and maintaining their trust.

* Source: <http://www.newswise.com/articles/2001/6/TRUST.BTH.html> (02 April 2003).

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