Reliability is an aspect of trust that is often under-appreciated. Reliability is unlikely to be your customers' favorite attribute of your business, but unreliability can easily make it to the top of their list of complaints. Learn how to be more reliable by reducing unnecessary expectations.

According to Trusted Advisor Associates, the four variables to building trust are credibility, reliability, intimacy, and low self-orientation. Reliability can be described as the ability to do what you say you’re going to do. It is achieved by following through with any commitments you make to your customers.

The quality of being reliable can seem to hold less weight than the other variables because customers don’t notice or appreciate all of the times that you follow through on your commitments. However, the lack of following through on even one commitment can have a long-lasting negative impact on your customer’s trust in you.

Reduce Your Exposure

One way to reduce your risk of failing to follow through on a commitment is to make commitments in a way that gives you more time to complete them. Instead of automatically saying “I’ll get that to you by the end of the day,” consider the level of urgency. Perhaps it can wait until the next day or even the end of the week; confirm the timeline with your customer.

If your customer said that they're not going to review your proposal until next Wednesday, then wait until next Tuesday to send it to them. The email will act as a reminder and it will be easier for them to find in their inbox the next day.

Increasing the expected turnaround time can even demonstrate more reliability than saying you’ll get to the task ASAP. Unnecessarily short time constraints can signal a failure to prioritize appropriately. If it’s not urgent, why are you making it urgent?

If you determine that a task is not urgent, make sure to also consider its level of importance. If it’s neither urgent nor important, why are you even committing to it? You might just be creating work for your customer. Conserve your customers' resources; even just an unnecessary email is inconsiderate of their time and energy.

Instead of creating unnecessary constraints for yourself—and putting your reliability at risk—modify your commitments to your customers in a way that makes it easier for you to follow through. This will increase your ability to be reliable and strengthen your customers’ trust in you.

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