Trust is like a forest: difficult to grow, easy to destroy.
Tran Thi Hai Linh- s3393957
I always portrait in my mind that a high position people within a company must be cold, severe and disciplined in order to manage and maximize the efficiency of employees. Well, it is until I met Ms. Do Thuy Quynh Vy, with a cheerful smile and lovely face, all of my stereotype imagination is all gone when we started to have a nice and friendly conversation together. With her experience as an export marketing executive at Vina Acecook Company, one of the biggest instant noodle companies in Vietnam, for 4 years, she has shared her thought about how to gain and maintain trust between client and agency, with the view of client side.
Trust is an important factor for lasting bonds between the internal factors which are managers, workers to the external factors which are customers or even communities where we do business. As a matter of fact, the economic system or industry specific advertising will crash without the trust between leaders (Convey & Merrill 2006). According to (Horsager 2009), “trust is a confident belief in someone or something”. In other words, business trust can be understood as the ability of believe, the willingness to corporate with the people in the same organizations or from different organizations. Nevertheless, as my interviewee states “trust is not really a concept that can be exactly understood within a few words in a book; it constantly changes throughout the period.” To kick-off the interview, with her own knowledge, Ms Vy defines trust as “a beautiful but fragile forest, took years to grow but few minutes to vanish under severe flame” (Figure 1).
Figure 1. What trust is like?
Once agency obtains the state “Trusted Partner” in the relationship ladder (figure. 2), it is important to know what the clients expect them to do and commit to maintain it. Just like to grow forest, Ms. Vy provides us with things that clients want from agencies to continue developing as well as preserving the relationship.
Figure 2. Reproduced from Melanie, 2012
Ways to grow a forest
With a 1-year experience in Biz Tequila which is a PR agency, Ms. Vy is able to tell that it is very hard for the agency to not only please the clients but also gain their trust. And now, she shared some of her expectations for the agency and her tips for the agency to be able to gain trust from the client.
These advices, as my interviewee noted, are quite similar to the way of gaining trust. The first advice from Ms. Vy is “never lie to client, maybe you can get away that time, but eventually, the client will find out”. This advice is quite similar with what Convey & Merrill (2006) thought of: “talk straight”. Convey & Merrill (2006) recommend that agency should tell client the truth, and they should show their integrity or else the agency might lose their client’s trust.
Ms. Vy added: “don’t pretend that you know everything the client’s want, even if you’ve already known that, just listen to the client until they finish”. She also shared her own experience she had at Biz Tequila. In 2009, she was assigned to deal with the client for the first time. Since it was her first time, she was not really sure what to do exactly when she faced the client. And disaster came; she thought that everything she needs to know was on the piece of paper the client sent her; therefore, when she had a meeting with her client, she just said: “I know everything that you guys want so you don’t need to explain more for me”. Because of that sentence, she lost her opportunity to continue the project. Also, the client did not want to trust because they thought she was arrogant.
Ways to destroy the forest
Not only agency must know about how to maintain trust between them and clients, they also need to pay utmost attention on avoiding these factors. “Although they seem to be pretty simple, I myself have sometimes feel it is difficult for the agency to do”, my interviewee emphasized, “knowing something and willing to do it for your sake are completely opposite things”.
The first thing to avoid is “inconsistent massages”, as it is the most dangerous killer of trust (Galford & Drapeau 2003). Inconsistent massages not only occur internally, between employees and employers in a company but also take place externally, when an outside organization communicates with its consumers or other stakeholders. Ms. Vy states that “conflict in profit and corruption within leaders of agency as well as their poor performance and poor ability usually lead to this”.
Second thing that need to be considered seriously is “Consistent Corporate Underperformance” (Galford & Drapeau 2003). When a company often cannot achieve its goal which was expectation of the senior management, it will not only affect the employees who might consider their next steps instead of thinking for the organization, but it may also affect the external customers. They may think that this company is working inefficient rather than the anticipations were quite high. In this way, “Consistent inefficient businesses” may cause harm to the trust from clients to agencies and even from agency to its clients.
Significantly, the final and the most important element that many people do not realize and usually ignore this, is “failure to trust other” (Galford & Drapeau 2003). It is considered as an enemy of all types trust, not only trust in the organization or agency-client trust. As someone who cannot put their trust in others, it is hard to gain others’ trust. Particularly, ‘failure to trust other’ is not just happened and jeopardized trust in the organization, if clients cannot trust agency and start to control everything that agencies do, it can make the agencies feel less respect and lose their beliefs (Galford & Drapeau 2003).
After going through way to maintain trust and way that can destroy trust, there are three key points that a client manager should know to become better in the position. The client manager should be honest, knows when to listen and not be suspicious about anything.
Proof of life photo
It is very difficult to maintain the trust between agency and client. However, it is not the job for one person, in order to maintain the trust; it requires the effort from both agency and clients.
Convey, SMR & Merrill, RR 2006, The speed of trust: the one thing that changes everything, Free Press, New York.
Galford, R & Drapeau, AS 2003, ‘The Enemies of Trust’, Harvard Business Review, Ferbruary, pp.88-95.
Horsager, D 2009, The Trust Edge: how top leaders gain faster result, deeper relationships, and a stronger bottom line, Free Press, New York.
Melanie, C 2012, ‘Lecture 2: The Relationship Marketing Ladder’, course notes for COMM2385 CLIENT MANAGEMENT, RMIT University, Melbourne, viewed 9 September 2013, Blackboard@RMIT.