Trust is increasingly becoming an essential quality in business. Apart from expecting great service, customers regularly look out for this differentiator when determining with which organizations they want to conduct business.

In order to tap into this precious quality, forward-thinking organizations are moving away from focusing on making a one-time profit and instead working hard to build a strong trust-based connection with their customers. These companies are taking on a new role, and turning their client-facing staff into trusted advisors to their customers. "They are differentiating themselves through customer experience," notes Wilson Raj, global customer intelligence director at SAS.

According to Wayne Neu, Ph.D., assistant professor of Marketing at California State University San Marcos;, Gabriel Gonzalez, Ph.D., clinical associate professor of Marketing at Arizona State University; and Michael Pass, Ph.D., associate professor of Marketing at Sam Houston State University, the role of a trusted advisor is to help their clients reduce uncertainty when making a decision. In a Keller Center Research Report, Neu, Gonzalez, and Pass note that a trusted advisor needs to help customers make better decisions by giving them the right information. "At the core of an agent's ability to perform the role of a [trusted advisor] is a high degree of reciprocal trust and trustworthiness formed with the client," they explain. The result is that customers are able to make better decisions that will benefit them. For example, an employee at a telecommunications organization can alert a customer about a mobile plan that's more suitable to his needs, even if it means that the client will be paying less. Although the company will lose money in the short term, the customer is more likely to trust the organization and remain loyal.