TRUST – The Key Ingredient in Influence

We hear so much these days about the importance of “know, like and trust” to make sales, keep customers happy, keep ‘em coming back, etc. And sure, it makes for a nice meme, but let’s take a closer look. What IS the key ingredient to creating and maintaining customer trust? And more importantly, their loyalty?

So rather than write a lecture here about the 5 ways to earn loyalty or the 7 tips on how to sustain it, I thought I’d offer a few examples from my own business life. I think you can draw your own conclusions and lessons.

Case in Point

About 2 years ago, a virus was discovered on my website, and I got a notification that my account had been suspended. Of course, i was panicked.

When I called customer support, they told me that a virus, not the covid kind, but malware, had infected several pages on my website. Upon reflection, i realized that the freelancer I had used for updating my site, had likely, but inadvertently, transferred the virus to my site pages. Although I didn’t blame him, still this was a huge problem for me. My site is the lifeblood of my business.

The company, Bluehost, assigned a tech expert to me, and he analyzed every single page of the site, found the malware, and cleaned it up, for no charge. Since then, I have had no problems. Various other providers and web hosting companies have offered their services, for less money, with more “bells and whistles”, but Bluehost will have my business for the foreseeable future. For this important service, you want a
a company that not only talks about “support” at the beginning of the relationship but really has your back when you’re in a crisis.

Case in Point

I was doing a weeklong train -the -trainer program for an international company at their New York headquarters. The topic was “Secrets of Influence”. All seemed to be going well, until on around the 3rd day, several participants seemed to lose interest and were meeting in what seemed like high energy + angry sub-groups. Many stopped paying attention.

Finally, they revealed what was bothering them: They were learning these powerful and practical influence skills, but they knew (feared) their management back home would not allow them the opportunity to use them, since the individual divisions were managed in an authoritarian hierarchical manner.

Fortunately, the Organizational Development Director was upstairs in the building, since we were working in the company’s Manhattan headquarters. During a break, I invited her to join us, explaining the situation. Together, we worked with the group, and what could have been a mutiny of this very carefully planned session, became once again a productive learning program. They realized they could be part of a change in the culture, and they could use Influence Skills to affect it.

And my client? She was super grateful to me for saving the day! And the company expressed this loyalty by continuing to hire me for many of their training needs, even though I knew that they had been approached by many other vendors (my competitors)

Final Case in Point

I had given a speech to a group of entrepreneurs in San Francisco. As usual, after the speech, several people approached me to purchase my book or to get an autograph. Most paid by cash or credit card (it was only $20). One woman, a local real estate broker, asked if I would take a check – I said OK (I had her card). The following week, I got a notice from my bank that the check had bounced. No big deal, this happens to everyone. I called the woman, left her a phone message and an email. She didn’t respond. I followed up a few times, but who’s going to waste precious time on collecting $20? I let it go.

A year later, I started looking for a home in the overpriced, super-competitive Bay Area. I got several names of brokers from friends and colleagues – this woman’s name came up many times. But because of her behavior with that $20 issue, she was on my “no” list. She may have been an excellent real estate pro, but she had failed my trust/integrity test. Mostly because what was worse than the $20 slip-up, was her failure to return my calls or even apologize.

A small mistake cost her a potential big commission!

So, you can draw your own lessons from my experiences and your own. Trust is something to be earned, and when lost, very difficult to get back. I would welcome hearing your experiences with trust and loyalty, either as a customer or vendor. We can all learn from each other.

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Elaina Zuker
Elaina Zuker
ELAINA is the president of Elaina Zuker Associates in Montréal, Canada. She has taught seminars to hundreds of employees and managers at major corporations such as AT&T, IBM, American Express, and MCI International, and is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and industry events. She is the author of six books, on leadership, management, and communication. Her best-selling book, “The Seven Secrets of Influence” (McGraw-Hill), the recent Main Selection for the Business Week Book Club, has been translated into four languages and its new, revised 2021 edition is now available on Amazon in paperback and as an e-book on Amazon Kindle. Her new book about Peer Mentoring YOUX2 has also just been launched on Amazon. Her internationally successful program “Secrets of Influence ™ is now available as an online learning program, either as a completely online self-study program or in a hybrid version. The program, created with the latest educational technology, can also be customized for an organization’s specific requirements. Ms. Zuker holds a B.A. in Psychology, an M.A. in Management/Organizational Development, and is the 2004 recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award from New York Polytechnic University. To engage Ms. Zuker as a speaker or consultant, to book a seminar for your company or organization, or to learn how to become a licensed Affiliate for Secrets of Influence, visit or contact us at [email protected]

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