There’re a million jokes about the guy who walks into a bar; I’m sure you could tell me a few, but there’s one I heard this weekend that got me thinking…

It’s the one about the guy who walks into an empty bar to find a sole patron sitting at the bar having a drink.

They start talking, and the lonely patron says to the guy, “you see the woodwork in this bar? Well, I built this all by myself, with my bare hands. But do you think they call me McGregor: The Incredible Bar Builder? Nope!” He slams his beer down and continues.

Remember the stone bridge you crossed to get here? Well, I built that bridge, stone by stone, with my bare hands. But you do think they call me McGregor: The Expert Bridge Builder? Nope. They don’t.

The punchline is short and sweet. The man continues.

But you (insert filthy digression here) JUST ONE TIME and then forever after, they call you McGregor: The…”

You might be thinking right about now that the tidbit this week is that we can’t afford to make a mistake, ever, because that’s how people will remember us.  

But that’s only half right.

Your best customers are typically willing to brush off the odd mistake, a bit of bad service, a delay in delivery, etc. as an anomaly.

And that’s because you’ve already built up a bank of trust. For example, you’ve established relationship equity by meeting and exceeding expectations over the previous transactions. With new customers, you don’t have this luxury.

Stephen Covey talks about the concept of relationship  “trust accounts.” Whether it’s a relationship with a spouse, a friend, or a customer, those relationships and the trust that binds them together is built over time.

You develop those relationships by making deposits to your trust account. Over time, the trust grows, and if you happen to make a withdrawal, then you’ve got enough in the account to weather the storm. With customers, this is often achieved through consistent behaviors– this includes marketing.

For example, I’ve sent the Tuesday Tidbit 150+ weeks in a row, every Tuesday, without fail. Consistency builds trust.

Are your consistent in your marketing, or your post-purchase follow-up?

Your current business results are likely the direct result of all the deposits you’ve made into your various trust accounts.

Covey lists other factors as trust account deposits, things like delivering results, loyalty to others, accountability, continuous improvement, showing respect, and doing the right thing when things go wrong.

The man at the bar presents an incredibly powerful metaphor for our new digitally connected world. Very quickly a trust account can be depleted to zero. Deposits and withdrawals are not created equally.

Now here are the key learning points.

You (hopefully) have a positive trust balance with existing clients – you can afford mistakes here, and how you handle them may even put more into your trust account.

You have a net zero trust account with all prospects and new clients.  You CANNOT afford to have a single bad experience. The only things they know about you are the things they read and hear from others.

What this means is simple – first impressions matter more than ever before. If you’re not doing internal experience audits to see what REAL clients, customers, and prospects are experiencing with your front line staff, then you may earn a nickname that doesn’t reflect what you hope among an enormous set of prospects.

Today’s Key Challenge: Consider Doing This: (to make sure you don’t earn a new nickname!)