Customer Loyalty: The Trust Formula

Want your customers to love ya?  You gotta get ’em to trust ya.


When it comes down to it, every purchasing decision involves an element of trust – both before the purchase happens, and after it’s done. Before the purchase, trust determines if we’re going to get the sale at all. Afterwards, trust will determine:

  • if we get to keep the money or have to return it
  • if the customer is going to come back again, and
  • whether or not the customer will pay dividends in the form of referrals.

It all starts with trust.

I give my children to your care . . .

One of our customers called us the other day. He’s the father of two young adult children who are both striving to be responsible without calling dad for everything.

Both of them had an issue with their vehicle last week.  Both of them scheduled and paid for the work themselves. This is a big deal for college-age kids – usually we hear from (and are paid by) the parents.

Afterwards, we got a phone call from the dad. He wanted to tell us how proud he was of his kids for having taken the steps to handle both their need and their finances. He told us that it was people like us, whom they could trust, that made that possible.

This was more than just a car repair. The trust we’ve established with his family empowered his children. Dad just had to take a moment out of his day to call us, tell, us, and thank us. It was one of the best phone calls of the week.

That family, those kids, all the father’s siblings, even the father’s father – they’re all our customers. And you’d better believe that they send everybody else our way, too.

That’s the kind of customers you want.

That happens with trust.  I’ve got a formula for that.

The Trust Formula

The trust formula is way easier than high school chemistry. It’s made up of one part compassion and one part solution.


Every need a person has includes an emotional component. Even something as simple as buying candles for the bathroom: we want the house to feel warm and cozy (security), or we don’t want it to smell like poo in there when guests come over (embarrassment).

What that means is, if we’re filling that need with our product or service, we also have to be the one who cares for the emotional component. We have to have compassion.

When we successfully convey compassion, we’re telling the customer that we understand their need and we’re going to be gentle with their emotions.

Then the customer feels: “This person ‘gets it.’ They’ve stood in my shoes, or mastered this problem, and they can empathize with how I feel. If they can empathize with how I feel, then they won’t make me feel stupid and/or take advantage of me.”

Then, you treat ’em right.

This is exactly why those kids in my story called us in the first place.  They knew we would be sensitive to their needs, and handle them with care without exploiting their youth.


This one’s pretty simple, right? “Did the product, service, whatever, deliver on its promise and actually solve my problem?” If the answer is yes, then the customer is going to feel confident in what you’ve provided.

This one can have another layer, too, if you’re providing some sort of needs- based consultation, or include a persuasive hook in your marketing. Meaning, you are the one convincing the customer that they have a need in the first place (to which, of course, you will sell the solution).

The customer is left to determine both if they have the need, and also if you filled the need.

This angle can be a little more complex. But it’s very important. Because if you’ve convinced the customer that they have a need, and they pay you to solve it, then it’d better be the truth. Period.

Then, of course, you do provide the solution.

Again, in my story, they knew that we would properly ID the need and offer a concrete solution (in the form of a repair).

Compassion + Solution = Trust

When you successfully combine compassion and solution, you earn the trust.

You earn the trust, you make the sale.

You earn the trust and keep the trust, you keep making sales.

So be very intentional about how you can demonstrate compassion in your interactions, and be vigilant about providing proper solutions. It’s a fool-proof way to create a customer for life, and do the same with their kids, their family, and their friends.

This article is just one in a series I’ve written about how to get customers who love you so much, they do all of your marketing for free.  Wanna hear more?  Get in touch with me here, and you’ll be first in line. 

So, how have you thought about trust in your customer relationships? In the comments, I’d love to hear how you have baked trust into your customer care . . . and how that’s paying you dividends!


3 thoughts on “Customer Loyalty: The Trust Formula”

  1. Hey Jo. Looks like you and I build trust (and “sell”) using the same approach.

    I simply talk to people, help them feel comfortable by being myself (a.k.a. build trust), and then they eventually buy stuff from me. It’s that weird and simple. Apparently it’s not simple for everyone though.

    I love that your other business is doing so well. I wonder how long it took to build that solid foundation?

    I’ve been in my other field (my full-time career) for 10 years and see my new one will take a chunk of time, too… hopefully not that long though!

    Thanks for the fun post!

    1. Great question, David – Truth be told, there was always an element of trust from the beginning, because we started with customers who knew us (friends, family, church, etc) and grew strictly on referrals. So people came in with some familiarity (trust) and knew we would be awesome to them. We noticed the ring expanding to third and fourth level referrals around the second year. I would say it was year 4 when we knew we had built a really solid foundation. That’s when we had to expand our shop. From both my experience and observation, I feel like year 3 is a “golden year” in business. It’s the year when you have enough experience to feel confident in what you’re doing, and you’ve put enough work out there that your reputation/referrals start to expand exponentially. Thanks for asking 🙂

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