We all know customers can dislike a lot of things, but there are three (3) in particular that will elicit stronger emotions than a simple dislike. These things are very likely to kill your customers’ trust (or at least diminish it in a major way).

If you have been following my recent posts you may recall that trust is born of your trustworthiness. You can’t make others trust you nor can they make you trustworthy, so the ball is definitely in your court. As a reminder, the key dimensions that underpin your trustworthiness are your:

    •  Ability (can you deliver?)
    • Humanity (will you act in my best interest?)
    • Integrity (will you deliver?)

Collectively, these are responsible for up to 80% of each customer’s decision to trust you. So that means if you don’t/can’t deliver on each of these promises, you’ll find it very difficult to elicit trust in the first place and to maintain it.

As you review each of the following, have a think about whether or not your customers are likely to encounter any or all of them and how you can prevent that from happening.

What are the consequences if you don’t?

There are consequences for everything. If any of your customers experience and hate these things, that’s a good reason you should avoid them in the first place. But should they occur, they will have a direct, negative impact on the metrics that matter to you and your manager. Here are some of the implications (although this list is not exhaustive):

    • Delayed or incomplete customer onboarding
    • Poor engagement
    • Lack of upsell opportunities
    • Risk of non-renewal (if in a contract)
    • Churn to a competitor
    • Negative sentiment in the market (we all know how social media can amplify good and bad news)

As you can see, if left unaddressed, some things can literally see your trust (essential to survival), customer count, revenue and business value decline precipitously.

These are the things that can kill customers’ trust

These things can kill trust and have incredibly negative results for both you and the customer, so make sure you eliminate them from the customer’s experience.

    1. Unknowns
    2. Surprises
    3. Repeating themselves

 Let’s look at each of these in detail.


It’s widely known that businesses dislike uncertainty because it affects their confidence in the future. Your customers also dislike uncertainty because it brings with it a heightened sense of risk that seems uncontrollable. All trust involves some form of risk taking, but only if the trustor has reached the conclusion the risks are worth it and they believe the trustee is trustworthy and will deliver on their promises.

Unknowns keep people from being able to plan ahead with confidence, budget appropriately, or perhaps secure resources. They are things that require discovery, identification, or clarification. The problem is your customers may not even know it’s something they need to discover in the first place.

If your customers experience any unknowns, it’s natural to think it’s their fault, but it’s really yours. You don’t want your customers to have an “OMG” moment because they just figured something out that you should have told them about. Save that moment for when they get the result they want (or better).

You’ll know when your customers experience unknowns because they’ll say things like why didn’t you tell me about this?, I wish I’d known about that, I don’t have the budget for that, I don’t have the resources for that, I don’t have approval for that, nobody told me about this, how was I supposed to know?

Some of the things that may trigger unknowns for your customers could be:

    • Poor documentation
    • Badly executed change management on the customer side
    • Not fully understanding the customer journey in the first place
    • Not managing expectations

Unknowns are trust killers so it’s worth making the effort so they don’t happen.


We’ve all experienced surprises – some good and others not so much. They’re generally welcomed if they deliver positive outcomes and emotions such as when we’re celebrating a birthday or other special occasion that typically involve some form of acceptable containment. But no one likes uncontained surprises, especially in a business setting when the consequences are negative.

In such a setting, surprises can be unanticipated events, facts, or things that cause negative emotions. For example, not being advised that a particularly important meeting has been postponed or being subject to an unexpected price increase.

You can expect your customers to say things like what just happened?, that was shocking, I didn’t expect that, why did you let that happen?, why did you let me do that?, why is this happening now? If you hear your customers say these things, you shouldn’t be surprised that they’re surprised.

Some of the things that may trigger a surprise for your customers could be:

    • Unexpected charges or price hikes
    • Uncommunicated key staff absences or re-assignments
    • Sudden handoffs to other people in the business
    • Unexplained changes to products and service packages

The best way to avoid surprising your customers is to communicate (clearly and directly) in a way that ensures they understand what they’re being told.

Repeating Themselves

One of my pet hates is being asked to repeat myself (sometimes several times) despite making it clear from the outset what my needs/preferences are. In my mind, this indicates not only a lack of focus by the service provider, but also a lack of respect for me as a customer. We’ve all been in retail outlets when the person serving is in a side conversation with a colleague rather than concentrating on you as a customer.

A recent experience of dealing with a telecom call centre and being handed off to someone else and then having to repeat myself also comes to mind. Handoffs are neither good nor bad, but if they’re necessary it’s best practice to make sure they are handled professionally and with the least inconvenience or irritation to customers.

Of course, no system is perfect. Someone in your business must update the customer record and someone else has to consume what is there when they prepare to work with a customer. But that’s all time consuming, so there’s a temptation to just ask the customer to tell you what they already told other people before you. From a customer’s perspective, that’s not acceptable.

Customers don’t feel heard when they have to repeat themselves and to them that probably means:

    • You really don’t care about me as a customer (despite what you say)
    • You’re not listening to me
    • You’re not synced internally and don’t have your act together
    • You’re wasting my time (I’m time poor too)
    • I no longer trust you
    • I hate you

If this happens in today’s business environment, with an abundance of technological solutions that are designed to keep customers from having to repeat themselves, it means you just don’t care and it will show to your customers.

The more the customer has to repeat themselves, the less they’ll want to engage. Less engagement means less product/service adoption, upsell opportunities, advocacy, and contract renewal and more contraction, churn, and public complaints.

The core issue here is that you have to continually maintain your trustworthiness with customers and do whatever you can to avoid the things that will kill their trust in you. That means consistently delivering on all promises associated with your ability, humanity and integrity. What do you think?

Here’s a link to our last post just in case you missed it Are You Trustworthy?

When you are ready, here are a few ways we can work together:

1.   For individuals, work with me on a one-to-one basis to ensure you are demonstrating your trustworthiness to customers and other key stakeholders so you can capture and leverage the value of trust.

2.   For organisations & teams that want to ensure they are consistently embedding and demonstrating trustworthiness to all key stakeholders, we can undertake an assessment of current performance, identify any gaps and utilise our expertise to drive improvements. Reach out for a private conversation.

 Use this link to book a quick and confidential conversation with me https://raymchale1.youcanbook.me/

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