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What takes years to build and seconds to destroy?

Trust is the jewellery industry’s most decisive influence. KIM RIDLEY explains why building trust with customers and associates should be your biggest priority in 2024.

We all know that trust is fundamental in the jewellery industry; however, it’s a silent in?uence in business – we often only turn our attention to trust when something has gone wrong.

This phenomenon was recently brought to my attention as my son returned home to Australia after spending several years living and working in Jordan.

As I’m sure you know, there’s a great deal of instability in the Middle East, and the decision was made for him to return home.

As he finalised the details of his 12,000-kilometre voyage from Jordan to Australia, I was reminded of how much trust we place in people we do not know.

Whether it be the taxi driver who takes us to the airport, the travel authorities at the airport, or even the airline staff – most importantly, the pilot – when we travel, we implicitly trust these strangers with the safety of our loved ones and precious cargo.

These are not personal relationships; they are associations based on trust, previous experiences, and, in terms of business, past transactions.

Travel is not the area of our lives where we place our trust in a stranger; however, the principles remain the same – have faith that individuals we do not know will carry out important responsibilities and provide valuable services.

"Delivering quality products and services, maintaining communication, and meeting deadlines reinforces and builds trust and fosters long-term relationships."

Many other examples exist – many people use dating apps, leading to personal encounters and interactions with strangers.

Young people often live in shared homes with strangers they’ve never met before moving in.

With online banking, we trust financial institutions with our hard-earned money without meeting or speaking with a staff member.

The jewellery industry may break away from this practice in some regards. For example, salespeople sit in front of customers and look them in the eye when facilitating a purchase.

Employees will discuss their families and personal lives with customers; however, when it comes to the jewellery business, the services these retailers offer are still based on trust.

With that said, it should come as no surprise that success in this regard is based on our ability to follow through on promises, reinforcing the trust and respect customers have in our businesses over time.

Salespeople who prefer to work on ‘short- term’ transactions and partnerships rarely succeed in the jewellery industry because this trade is based on connection.

I’ve worked in the jewellery industry for many years, beginning at Q Report with insurance and now with Retail Edge Consultants, working hand-in-hand with stores to improve their business.

The importance of these connections remains the same. In the coming years, I’m looking forward to continuing the great partnerships I’ve formed with retailers and business owners over the years.

In my new role, I’m also looking forward to forging new partnerships centred on mutual respect, trust, and a business goal as a measure of success.

Building and maintaining a good reputation in business often boils down to delivering on promises and providing value to customers.

Said another way, people have faith in you, and you, in return, trust them.

In my experience, I’ve learned that there are five keys to building and maintaining great relationships in the jewellery industry. I live by these principles and know many of my customers do, too.

» Trust: Trust is paramount in successful and productive business relationships.

» Priorities: Recognising the importance of the customer and prioritising their needs is crucial.

» Reputation: With the rise of online reviews in the ‘social media’ age, the reputation of a business can easily be shared, accessed, criticised and praised. Managing the perception of your business is vital.

» Accountability: Taking responsibility for any shortcomings and addressing them promptly is the basis for accountability.

» Consistency: Delivering quality products and services, maintaining communication, and meeting deadlines reinforces and builds trust and fosters long-term relationships.

In my many years in the business, all of the most successful jewellers I have encountered have adhered to these five principles.

These jewellers build trust with customers by keeping their word and delivering on promises, and as a result, their customers remain loyal.

These principles are particularly important today because consumers increasingly approach business with a default feeling of ‘mistrust’.

If a consumer does not like you or your business, the chances of them shopping in your store are close to zero.

If a consumer does not trust you or your business – whether it be because they feel that you don’t have your best interests in mind or they doubt that you’ll be able to deliver on your promises –that is a relationship that must be repaired.

Word of mouth is extremely important in this industry. When a person trusts a jeweller, they’ll not only become repeat customers, they’ll also spread the good word about your business – whether verbally or online.

The opposite is also true - and as we all know, negative reviews – whether online or in person – can be very destructive.

In the year ahead, the opportunity I’m most excited about is the chance to continue building on my existing relationships and to forge new partnerships.

I hope that you’ve set similar goals for your business.

Remember: Trust may be earned drop-by- drop, but it’s lost by the bucket load.

Prioritise trust and the rewards will follow.

Name: Kim Ridley
Business: Retail Edge Consultants
Position: Business Development Manager
Location: Queensland
Years in the industry: 15



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