Leap of Faith
Although cold temperatures are still the norm here in New Jersey, there are some sure signs that spring is just around the corner. One is this week’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in nearby Manhattan; another is the annual arrival of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus. Once the obligatory photo of the circus elephants making a slow and steady trek down a local highway appears in the morning paper, you know the daffodils will soon poke their heads through the snow.
A three-ring circus is an exercise in total distraction, with performers doing all kinds of stunts simultaneously, but two acts always seem to stand out: the high-wire walkers and the trapeze artists. The inherent danger of performing 50 or 100 feet above the ground with no protective gear simply compels your attention.
The wire walkers are amazing, but I find the trapeze artists more fascinating, in part because of the sheer beauty of what they do, but also because each “flyer” is dependent not only on his own skills, but also on those of a “catcher” for his safety. He holds on to a slim wooden bar and jumps from the platform, releases from the bar, twists and tumbles through the air, then reaches for a partner swinging from another bar on the other side of the apparatus. Their hands clasp together firmly and both swing up safely to their new perch.
The difference between safety and disaster is a matter of milliseconds and inches, the probability of a catastrophic miss high, and yet every night one artist willingly takes an incredible and quite literal leap of faith towards the other. You can only imagine the degree of trust each performer has in his partner.
While it is seldom as dramatic as it is above the circus sawdust, trust is a key part of every personal and professional relationship. We work with certain people or companies because we trust them to do a good job and treat us fairly. We walk away from them because they don’t. Customers who trust you will stay with you, give you more work to do, and recommend you to others.
How do you build that kind of trust? As noted, do a good job and treat customers fairly. And ALWAYS do what you say you will do. Let your actions match your words, in big things, such as providing the quality promised on the agreed delivery date, and in small things, such as returning phone calls quickly, double-checking if some aspect of a job seems unusual, and really listening to the customer’s instructions.
There are lots of ways for trust between company and customer to be broken. There’s one way to make sure it doesn’t happen: Impress on every staff member that always making a perfect customer connection is as much a matter of life and death for your business as it is for those trapeze artists. (How do you ensure that your customers can always trust you to do what you say you will do?)