Trust. It’s vital in every type of relationship, from friends to family to small business. When you establish trust with your customers you can make more sales, create stronger relationships, and wind up with a healthier bottom line. It’s not a new concept, but it’s one that deserves a renewed focus as the economy recovers.

"Trust is not a soft skill. Trust really affects the bottom line. Look at Tiger Woods who lost millions of dollars in endorsements when he lost public confidence. Trust is the competitive advantage you gain when others believe in you,” says David Horsager, author of The Trust Edge.

"People pay more for a trusted brand. They come back and tell others. People follow the trusted leader and buy from the trusted salesperson. Trust affects the bottom line more than anything. In fact, a lack of trust is your biggest expense—and you don't even know it.”

With this in mind, Horsager has developed an "8 Pillars Plan" that small businesses can follow to build trust in the workplace. The goal is to improve customer satisfaction improves, stimulate employee motivation, and energize the sales force. Here are the eight pillars:

  1. Clarity: People trust the clear and they mistrust the ambiguous.

  2. Compassion: People put faith in those who care beyond themselves.

  3. Character: People notice those who do what is right instead of those who do what is easy.

  4. Competency: People have confidence in those who stay fresh, relevant and capable.

  5. Commitment: People believe in those who stand through adversity.

  6. Connection: People want to follow, buy from and be around friends.

  7. Contribution: People immediately respond to results.

  8. Consistency: People have to see the little things done consistently.


"We found that the greatest leaders of all time—from business to military to sports—used all Eight Pillars. Trust was the singular uniqueness,” Horsager says. "But you don't trust someone who says, 'Trust me.' Trust has to be earned. Trust is like a forest. It takes a long time to grow but can be easily burned down with a touch of carelessness."

Check out this video for more practical customer relationship-building tips: