How to Foster Trust in New Clients?
The one that got away
Not every potential client turns into an actual one and that’s fine. Sometimes we find out why a job didn’t happen and sometimes we are left wondering. Was it the price, the proposed delivery date or something else altogether?
Recently I was contacted by a potential client in need of a semi-rush translation. So far, so good. We talked on the phone and eventually he asked me: “How much can I trust you and what you are telling me?”
The question caught me off guard. I replied that I take on translations like this all the time and that he had come to the right place. His answer: “No, not your skills. How do I know that you’ll deliver on time?” That had me stumped for a second; nobody has ever asked me that point-blank. I answered that I provide binding delivery dates during the quoting process and never promise something I can’t keep. The customer wasn’t satisfied: “Sure, that’s easy to say. How do I really know how reliable you are?”
Well, he’s right: Talk is cheap. Our new clients don’t actually know in advance how reliable we are. Working with new people always involves trust – and that on both sides. Tricky!
The job never happened. It turns out that the client had just had a bad experience with another translator. The translator had missed the deadline, delivered a substandard translation and then was not even available to talk about it. No wonder the customer had been so skeptical on the phone. My word wasn’t worth much to the client because someone else had already failed his trust.
When I talked to the now not-so-potential client a few days later, he was quick to reassure me that it had nothing to do with me. I think it did, though. If clients don’t like my price, they generally come right out and say so. Maybe some other factor was at play here. But my gut tells me that I was not able to effectively communicate my trustworthiness.
What I did to build trust
Factor that should have fostered trust (and are part of my normal work approach):
I came recommended.
I have the requisite client testimonials on my website.
I looked at the brochures that needed translating and promptly got back to the potential client with relevant questions (that all had an impact on the quote).
As I had promised, I arranged for a proofreader right away who also confirmed the deadline.
I sent a detailed quote with all the requested information and even added further pertinent details.
The customer had the quote on his desk a few hours earlier than originally agreed upon.
Am I missing something?
Perhaps I didn’t handle the original question on the phone so smoothly, but I definitely grabbed the opportunity to prove that I was capable and reliable afterward. However, it would appear that the initial impression I made couldn’t be sufficiently corrected in later communication. It leaves me wondering what the better approach would have been. How do you let clients know that you can walk the walk and not just talk the talk?
Sure, he could just be one of those clients who wasn’t meant to be. I’ll probably never know, but I do want to be able to handle these situations better in the future. What would you have done?