Trust in time

by Tim Kiek
08 Nov 2018
Trust in time

I had initially intended to base my monthly meditations on the future of car ownership and the subscription economy, an obvious choice given it is the subject of this issue’s cover story. However, self-effacingly assuming most of you don’t ignore page sequence in your rush to read this column, Steve Nash has beaten me to the punch and so I will expound my arguments on subscription next time round.

With Steve taking ownership of ownership, my first fallback was to shine a light on the recent political manoeuvrings which have seen grants for low-emission vehicle purchases either slashed or removed in their totality – at the same time as all the rhetoric emanating from Westminster sounding more pro-electric than a conference call between Michael Faraday and Nikola Tesla. However, Arthur Way highlights this staggering hypocrisy on pages 6-7 and I have no wish to steal the great man’s thunder – or lightening, to stick to an electrical theme.

My top two choices being off the table, I have instead paid homage to Brexit negotiations and resorted to the backstop to the backstop: why building trust is so important in making sales. This topic came to me during an appointment with a local mortgage adviser to discuss remortgaging. After taking a seat in his immaculate office, with pleasantries exchanged, the adviser in question, who was also the business owner, embarked on an unsolicited five minutes of self-promotion. In the course of his fervent supplication for my business, he repeatedly assured me that his firm was different from the competition as he always puts the customer first. He evidenced his impeccable character with several examples of how he regularly advises clients to opt for mortgage deals that afford him less commission because it is “the right thing to do”. He also proudly showed me an untainted raft of five-star reviews for his business on Google – promising me that not a single one was fabricated…

Now, for all I know, everything he said could have been true; maybe I had been fortunate enough to wander into an “If Carlsberg did…” mortgage brokerage. And, in the interests of fairness, perhaps his evangelical spiel does work well on less cynical minds than mine. However, I found the whole approach rather aggravating; it felt like I had been parachuted into Alan Sugar’s boardroom as a desperate candidate begged to be made his next flunkey. And of course the more he proclaimed his uprightness, the more I felt I would rather take my chances at a mortgage brokerage based in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul than allow him to transact on my behalf.

So what is the moral of this story? Well there is probably more than one but perhaps the most obvious is that a customer’s trust can’t be gained in a five minute meeting; regardless of how beguiling you believe your sales patter to be, there are no shortcuts to building trust. Testament to this lies in the decision I took to use my previous mortgage adviser – despite her being based a fair schlep around the M25 and also not offering to waive her brokering fee even though the self-styled patron saint of mortgage advisers did. Here lies the value of providing outstanding customer service: I was happy(ish) to be £200 down because long-term reassurance trumps short-term financial gain.

And despite the potent wiles of that pervasive facilitator of consumer promiscuity – the internet – if you offer reassurance to your customers they will come back to you – time and time again.

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