As CSMs, we all want to establish a baseline of trust and security with our customers. Customers should feel comfortable and open to sharing any issues or concerns they may have. If a customer doesn’t trust a CSM, some specific details around how they’re feeling with the product, how the team uses the features, and more could be lost in the silence
Understanding what customer trust entails has been one of the great mysteries of customer success – until now. With this comprehensive trust equation that brings together multiple aspects of what trust means to customers and CSMs, your team can truly understand if your customers trust your team.
What is the trust equation? Here we go:
Trust = (C + R + I) / S
Now, let’s break down each one of these components for a deeper understanding:
C = Credibility
Credibility is the feedback and input a customer gives directly to or about a CSM. For example, the statement “I trust my Customer Success Professional, she is very knowledgeable on the subject and knows what she is talking about” shows a high level of credibility and proves that the customer has confidence in the CSM to make valuable project decisions.
R = Reliability
Reliability is the actions taken and the things that a CSM does for a customer. The statement “I trust my Customer Success Professional; if he says he will deliver this tomorrow, I can depend on him to do that” shows that the customer can rely on the CSM and trusts him to make good on the actions promised.
I = Intimacy
Intimacy is the way that a CSM makes a customer feel. Customer success is all about personal, human-to-human relationships, and customers must feel comfortable and connected to their CSM to share their thoughts and feelings. The statement “I can trust my Customer Success Professional with that information; she has never violated my confidentiality before,” shows a level of intimacy and security between a CSM and the customer.
S = Self Orientation
Self Orientation is the customer’s understanding of where a CSM is truly focused. The statement “I can’t trust my Account Executive; he doesn’t seem to have my best interests in mind and only wants to close the sale” shows the feeling of being used and played by an Account Executive. Customers can see through these ploys easily, which can cause trust to plummet even if the other three elements are there.
So, the true trust equation is:
Trust = (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) / Self Orientation
In this equation, your Credibility, Reliability, and Intimacy are essential and make your relationship with customers strong and loyal. But Self Orientation – your customer’s understanding of where your true focus lies – can undermine all of this groundwork and cause trust to falter.
You can explore more ideas for building trust with customers with these additional resources from ClientSuccess: