Trust is one of the most important parts of your relationship with your custom's broker, but trust can sometimes be an overused phrase.
I hear words like "trusted supplier, building trust," and the often used one, "trusted adviser." What do these terms really mean and how do you build trust with your custom's broker?
From my experience, one of the key ways to measure and build trust is first in a time of need. Something as simple as someone picking up the phone when you need them goes a long way to reducing your anxiety and helping you start towards a solution to that time of need. If that person knows who you are, understands your business, is familiar with your account, that takes it to the next level.
The second part is what we call being there when you didn't think you needed us, and that occurs a lot when regulatory changes occur in trade and we have to translate what that actually means to the person, the company, and ultimately to their customers.
We use the term "stewardship", and the definition of stewardship is the job of supervising or taking care of something such as an organization or property. And if you focus on being entrusted by your client to take care of their business, it's a great way to start to build that trust over time.
When I'm asked about trust and when we're asked about how to gauge the level of trust with your custom's broker, I start in a couple of key areas.
First is, do you meet regularly with your custom's broker? Do they visit with you? Do they meet your people? Do they see the product? Have they toured the warehouse? Have they sat down and do they understand your process?
On the flip side, have you visited with your custom's broker? Have you met their ownership, their management? Have you met the actual team that is performing the work on your behalf?
It is very important that you have that level of relationship to start to build that trust. Trust goes far beyond the product, the paperwork, and the import transaction.
Some of the most concerning phrases I hear when I speak with people is, "It's the importer's responsibility to audit the custom's broker," and on the flip side, that's our broker's job to take care of that.
One quote that captures this best is from Barbara M. White. "Building trust is a process. Trust results from consistent and predictable interaction over time."
The question for you to ask yourself is, "Are you being intentional about giving time, developing your relationship with your custom's broker?"
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