How to Regain Your Client's Trust After You've Messed Up

Uncategorized May 09, 2018

It can be a difficult task to build trust and credibility with Allstate clients, especially when they are focused on price. It is even harder when attempting to rebuild trust after it has been damaged.

When this happens, the impact on even your longest and strongest client relationships can be profound.

Trust, or rapport, can deteriorate or be lost if the client you are interacting with:

- Suddenly becomes preoccupied with something outside the context of your conversation
- Does not understand why you are asking the question - and becomes confused, defensive, or suspicious
- Something you say in the conversation challenges the other person’s values, beliefs, or rules

Being right is insufficient for being effective.

How can you get past that break in rapport and get back to serving your client at the highest level?

Do your CSRs have what it takes to succeed in the unique Allstate environment?

Click Here To Take Agency Vault’s Free Allstate CSR Attributes Assessment

The following four-step process will help you rebuild trust with your clients:

1) Empathize with your client's challenge

Empathizing is more than hearing your customers’ words: It is recognizing
the meaning and emotion behind their words. Some clients will force recognition of both the issue and their feelings. Some won’t talk about what’s really bothering them, keeping it hidden below the surface. Expressing empathy will help you to coax out and reduce negative emotions. You must show them you understand what is most important to them.

Furthermore, it shows your serious intent to repair the breach of client trust -- and that you truly care about your customer’s needs.

2) Execute a questioning strategy to understand what is really going on

After you express empathy, it's time to delve into your client's reaction. You may feel reluctant to ask many (or any) questions about the misstep -- either because you are afraid to hear the response or assume you know the answer.

Open-ended questions and effective listening take courage and a strong stomach when trying to rebuild fractured trust. Also use a softener, like, "I'm curious..." at the beginning of a question to put your client even more at ease. The payoff: The client can vent and feels like they're heard. 

Meanwhile, you show that you care and can develop a greater understanding of the client’s perspective. Probing, actively listening, and asking follow-up questions gives you a more complete picture. Only then can your plan begin to emerge for how to get past the challenge that has you both stuck.

Want to better results-producing CSRs?

Click Here To Take Agency Vault’s Free Allstate CSR Attributes Assessment

3) Position your solution(s)

This is most akin to Building Value in the Trusted Advisor Sales Process. If you’re like most CSRs, your first reaction to a client's anger may be to explain and defend yourself. While accurate, your comments will not be persuasive and may sound defensive.

Instead, after empathizing and questioning, link your solutions or suggestions to what you learned from the client’s responses to your questions. Your customer will become more engaged if your ideas directly address their issues.

To position ideas effectively, you must know -- not assume -- three things:
1. The customer’s concerns
2. What solutions will address those concerns
3. How those solutions will positively impact their concerns

4) Elicit feedback from your client

It’s easy to mistake a client's silence for agreement. At best, silence signals that the client is thinking about the solution proposed.

At worst, the client has disengaged and is now a flight risk. Only by checking and using open- ended questions can you tell whether the proposed solutions hit or missed the mark. Try asking, “I am curious, how well does this address your concerns about our dependability as a trusted advisor?”

Asking for feedback engages the client and allows you to plan next steps. A positive response can lead to a discussion of actions, responsibilities, and an understanding we are moving forward.

A negative or neutral response can signal that you need to restart the process, build more rapport beginning with empathy or questioning, to see where the solution fell short.

Trust is a fragile thing: Hard to gain, easy to lose, and even harder to regain. Clients want a consistent commitment to them and their issues. Depending on the size of the challenge, you may have to use this process multiple times over multiple interactions. Your sustained effort will let you begin rebuilding trust and credibility.

It takes courage to face tough issues with clients and not every CSR has what it takes. Sadly, wishing them away is never a winning strategy. Leveraging empathy, understanding, relevant ideas, and feedback will help you advance the difficult task of removing the challenge and regaining the trust of valued clients. 

Do your CSRs have what it takes to succeed in the unique Allstate environment?

Click Here To Take Agency Vault’s Free Allstate CSR Attributes Assessment. 

See You In The Vaults!

Craig & Neal
Co-Founders, Agency Vault


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