Credibility in an Incredible World

Credibilityworthy of belief or confidence; trustworthy says Dictionary.com..

Lets face it, times have changed.  No longer is business done simply by a smile and handshake, or accepted based a persons “word” as it once was.  Credibility has all but vanished from business in a sea of lawyers and greed.

That software you just bought and tried to install on Vista; when it doesn’t work you call the manufacturer for assistance.. If your lucky enough to talk to a live person, the first thing they try to do is look for a way out.. “There is a problem with your computer, check for updates, if that doesn’t work reinstall or call Micro$oft.”  A similar story when you call Micro$oft, “Nope can’t talk to you until you sign up for our $39.95 tech support package and when you do we’ll point the finger back at the software..”  Or try walking into your local car dealership and asking what your favorite car costs, you may get an answer after a 15 minute test drive and sitting in the sale persons cubical for an hour.  Or better yet, ask what the trade-in value of your car is..

The point is, credibility is no longer a given in todays business world; even to the point that the average consumer doesn’t even consider it when making a purchase.  Though it has been my experience that if you are able to build a personal relationship with a client, one that allows the client to look beyond the instinct “what’s this guy trying to sell me that I don’t need” and show them that you are a credible business, one worthy of trust and honest, sincere advice; your chances of a successful business relationship with them increases exponentially.

So how do we bring credibility back into business?  At graphXevolution, its simple..

  1. Honesty – Be honest not only with the client but with yourself.  There is nothing wrong with saying to a client “I don’t know” because immediately following should be “But I’ll find out”.  Even the best person in their respective craft doesn’t know everything about it, there is always something to learn.  Be honest with yourself to know your limits and be honest with your client.
  2. Be Upfront – Don’t be the sales man at the car lot that “has to talk to his boss” when really he’s just going to grab a cup of coffee.  Clients hate to be given a bill for additional charges, be it reasonable or not, when they are not expecting it.  Nine times out of ten, a business knows well ahead of time that extra expenses are going to be incurred.. don’t wait, talk to the client about it so they can prepare and are expecting it come invoicing time.  If you follow item 1 and are being honest, generally it does not become an issue.
  3. Be Fair – Be fair, again, not only to the client but to yourself.  Charge a fair price for the value you bring the client.  You as a business have a nitch that makes you successful or you wouldn’t be in business, identify that and be truthful to its value.  I have found that being the lowest price isn’t always the best, many clients look to an average price rather then the cheapest.  Building credibility with that customer will often bridge the gap between your price and the “cheapest” because credibility in it of itself has a value.  Every business wants to make as much money as it can but be fair to yourself and your client.
  4. Say what you are going to do & Do what you say – Identify in detail what you are going to do for the client and be truthful to that.  To me, there is nothing worse then saying you’re going to have a deliverable to them by a specific date and not being able to meet that deadline. Its like waiting for a package only to come home to the yellow sticky on your window because there was no one home to sign for it.  Obviously some things are out of control, but being honest and upfront (items 1 & 2) will help to ease the client.  If your being honest and upfront with yourself when planning deadlines, you can eliminate the vast majority of delays.

Building credibility into your business model can separate you from being another average company or the one that people talk about.  The best form of advertising is word of mouth, credibility is what people talk about next to price.. “They did a great job on my website, gave me exactly what I needed without the stuff I don’t.”..  “Well so and so did my site but they didn’t tell me that the artwork wasn’t mine, they sold me a blog but What’s a blog?“.  At graphXevolution, we are not the cheapest nor the most expensive but our credibility along with knowing our nitch and keeping within it have allowed us to be successful both in business and in customer satisfaction. We take great pride in not having a “list of references”, rather a portfolio of which anyone can be contacted.

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Get Out Of The Box!

“What on earth are you talking about woman…”

I get that often but would rather have people look at me funny because I’ve said something to make them go “hmm”  rather than ignore me because they don’t think I have anything to say.

Many times I’ll interject humor into my conversations with clients just at the right time (in the proper context) to not only lighten the conversation, but in doing so ease their minds, allowing them to feel comfortable with me. More often than not I’ll have a client say right after a humorous exchange, “I know this is a stupid question…” and my response is 100% of the time, “The only stupid question is the one not asked.” My lightheartedness opens a door for them to be educated…be empowered.

Again and again we’re told to think outside of the box. Well I don’t believe I’ve ever been inside of the box, at least not a rigid, geometrical sort. Not with how I dress, how I express myself, nothing…so my motto is now…

“Forget thinking outside the box, get on that damn thing and shout to the world!!!”

Especially in today’s uneasy atmosphere where we aren’t sure what’s up or down, you need to make you and your passion the most memorable thing a potential customer hears or sees. That doesn’t mean to scream at them like a 2am infomercial (nothing wrong with it, if that’s what you do); and it certainly doesn’t mean to spam customers or annoy them with flashy doo-hickies all over media. It simply means to give a consistent reminder that:

  • you do what you do better than most;
  • have a passion for what you do;
  • and will make your customer’s lives either easier or enriched by this passion.

Remember the 9 dot puzzle? Here it is, thinking outside the box is the only way to connect all 9 dots without ever letting your pencil leave the paper.

Here’s one of the answers. Don’t worry I didn’t get it either…so much for my crazy radical thinking 🙂

We all have a passion, what’s yours?