“Everything begins with trust” is a fundamental principle of fruitful interaction between two or more people in a personal or professional context. Conversely, that means that a loss of trust is the beginning of the end of a relationship.
Our industry is no different from the overwhelming majority of other businesses – with the reinforcing aspect that the relationship between a pure service provider and its customers needs to be built up by the service provider. Such a relationship should begin with a leap of faith; this trust should then be maintained and strengthened through constant effort.
As we go about our daily business in the information process industry, we wonder where this trust comes from and what actions we can take to stabilise it for many years. Take an example from our daily business: as part of a major project, we are working with our customers to tackle and solve large and complex informational tasks. First, we simply need to deliver good results. We garnish these results with a pronounced willingness to communicate and an ability to resolve conflicts.
But there is one question that always remains and is rarely spoken: “What do they do with my money?” “Do colleagues really bill us for the work they do, or are they taking advantage of the distance between our premises for some ‘creative profit optimisation’?”
Trust is built on transparency
It is easy to live in this grey area of silent agreement, but do we have to? No, there is a clearer, more transparent way; the best way to build trust.
This process involves a few key steps:
The first step is to sit down together and consider how best to achieve mutually agreed goals. Next, we develop performance indicators (also referred to as KPIs) that guarantee the transparency of the service but do not hang over the cooperation like the sword of Damocles.
We will examine these KPIs together at agreed intervals and add nuance to them if necessary. We also agree on the ways for our customer to access an overview of the project that will allow the manufacturer to monitor progress, see which actions are upcoming, keep an eye on costs and thus see their service provider “live” in action.
Our current projects have shown us that this method adds a new dimension to mutual trust between the parties. “Evil” KPIs are given a new positive value, are supported by everyone involved, and have a measurable positive impact on the entire relationship between customer and supplier.