I have written in the past about the importance of trust between customer and provider. I ran across a book, Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage (by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers). The book was published in 2003 but a lot of the findings still apply.
We have also published a white paper entitled "A Matter of Trust" (click here to download) that comes to many of the same conclusions. This research behind this paper was done for a distributor of industrial products where there is a significant need for ongoing product support. For example, as the trust level increases so does the providers share of the customers' service and repair spending. We also saw more loyalty in terms of the length of the relationship with the provider.
A question becomes is how do you establish that trust? One thing is that it doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. It takes time because customers have to buy products consistently perform well and experience service that is also consistently delivered. In short, if you make a promise, keep it or let the customer know that you can't and why.
The book is an interesting read. I can think of several of our clients whose business model is to develop this extreme trust. Their customer service is great. Their customer loyalty is strong. Interestingly, they are growing and doing so in a profitable manner. Perhaps there is a message!