What Grade Would You Earn?

Posted by Douglas Sorocco at August 30, 2005 09:06 PM


Sometimes you stumble over something written on a blog and you just gotta go back and read it over and over before it fully settles into your consciousness.

Ageless Marketing has just such a post this week entitled "Trust is a Report Card Grade, Not a Vision Item or a Mission Goal." It ends with the tagline "... to be continued" and I must admit, I am looking forward to it.

In a nutshell, the author takes a jab (very well deserved) at all those company mission statements that make it a primary objective "to build trust" with customers.

We can’t tell you how many vision and mission statements we’ve seen citing building trust with customers as a primary objective. You’re not in business to build trust. Trust is not a primary objective. Serving customers beyond compare is. Customers reward the companies with trust and loyalty commensurate with the devotion the company gives to their well being.

Right on! Like many companies, law firm mission statements are even better - a sampling includes these gems:

"Our clients are entitled to professionalism from us. We ascribe to the highest professional ethics, and protect their confidences from improper disclosure. Their secrets are safe with us." - i.e. Trust Us.

"We value trust and loyalty. These are earned, but once earned, they are great enablers. They enable us to deliver the most timely, cost-effective and sagacious legal advice to our clients."

"He believes that it is imperative for a client to form a strong working relationship with the attorney who will be handling his or her case. Mr. Smith generally develops lasting professional relationships with the individuals he represents." - i.e. Trust us, you will like us.

The point Ageless Marketing makes: don't strive for trust, don't make it a primary objective. Instead, strive for perfect client service, the best product you can make or deliver. Do these things and the trust will follow. Trust is a badge to be earned - or a grade to be written down on the report card.

What grade would you give yourself? More importantly, what grade would your clients give you?

UPDATE: Ageless Marketing followed up today on their "to be continued" promise with a post entitled "Trust Flows from Cultures of Trust". Once again - they nail it. Go take a look, but here is the penultimate quote:

Thus, enumerated bulleted “how to statements” on building trust, such as contained in David Maister’s book The Trusted Advisor (see yesterday’s post), ring as hollow words, for even a con artists follow those steps. Enduring trust flows not from tactical actions but from strategic principles embedded in a culture of trust.

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