While it’s healthy to realize that not all things in life are black and white, it’s also wise to remember which things in life really are firm and absolute. For example, in business, there are no gray areas when it comes to trust. In his book “The Speed of Trust,” (which happens to be one of my favorite books) Stephen Covey Jr. examines this truth.

Covey asserts that trust is “the one thing that changes everything” and contends that trust the main thing that sets apart companies that succeed and companies that fail.

In my work at Microsoft, I spend a great deal of time with SMB leaders and am always on the lookout for those that place trust as the cornerstone of their business model. One business that fits this description is Spiceworks, a company based in Austin, Texas that has created a free IT management desktop application for IT pros. With just around 100 employees, Spiceworks has a business model and culture built on trust and has built over the last five years a community of IT professionals that is growing by 2,000 a day and includes more than 1.4mm globally.

Spiceworks’ CEO recently talked with me about how his company makes decisions. I was amazed at the number of times he mentioned how feedback from their community of IT pros has influenced Spiceworks’ decisions. This showed me that Spiceworks doesn’t just talk the talk, it walks the walk when it comes to trust and has made it a chief and ongoing priority.

To build a trust-based community, Spiceworks vigilantly sources feedback from its users, whether through discussion forums, Q/A posts, product ratings and reviews, etc.

All of these efforts make it clear to their customer base that they want to hear from them and will act on what they hear. In this way, Spiceworks has developed real customer loyalty that has spurred the momentum they need for continued business growth.

How about your own business? What do you do, if anything, to build trust with your customers? Just think – every time you engage with a customer, whether online, in person or over the phone, you have a chance to build or dismantle trust. Forgetting how important these small moments are could cost you critical opportunities to develop customer confidence.

Let’s get a conversation going on this topic. What are some ways you’re building trust with your customers? Or have you observed other companies like Spiceworks that have earned their customers’ trust? What do you think their secrets are?

About the Author(s)

Cindy Bates

Cindy Bates is the vice president of the U.S. Small- and Mid-Sized Business (SMB) Organization at Microsoft. Cindy and her team serve millions of SMB's in the U.S., helping them start, grow and thrive by utilizing today’s powerful and affordable technologies.

Vice President, Microsoft SMB