We live in a world where information is at our finger tips all the time any time—which causes us to crave transparency more than ever before. Businesses that are transparent with both their employees and their customers are coming out on top and in many cases, taking this proactive approach is directly increasing the bottom line.
Why Transparency Works
The rise of social media and constant connection to the internet has caused society to become a socially transparent one. We share every detail of our daily lives through pictures on Instagram and Snapchat videos and voice our personal opinions via Facebook posts to spark conversations on often uncomfortable topics. Privacy has been lifted as a right, and we have indirectly made this happen with our growing usage and demand of these social platforms. As a result, people in general have come to expect not only others to constantly share information about themselves but also companies and brands to share what used to be private information to the public as well as take a stance on political and social issues.
Transparency in Business Operations
In order for a companies to practice transparency with a front-facing audience, they must start from within in their internal communications to employees. More and more, CEOs have become increasingly open about discussing progress of their businesses, anticipated risks and growth opportunities in town-hall like meetings that happen on a regular basis. By implementing internal transparency exercises, employees feel as if they are a part of the company’s vision and success and are more likely to participate and proactively make changes to improve individually for the benefit of the entire team. This mentality then provides a solid foundation to bring transparency to a business’s consumers and also invites them to join a company’s cause—building brand loyalty.
Transparency for Consumers
Brand transparency establishes brand trust—consumers want to know what they are investing in whether its emotionally or financially, and when a business is transparent they give the power to consumers and instill trust by making information public. This especially works because it helps to eliminate any surprises and establishes greater understanding for when an initiative fails because the customers already hold the full picture. Customers feel as if they have contributed to the company and are loyal to it based on the ideas, thoughts, likes and dislikes that align with their own views and interests.
Brand Transparency in Action
The most successful companies right now are practicing full-on transparency sharing everything from financial data and detailed information on business operation to their stance on social issues and employee spotlights that work to paint brand personality. T-Mobile, for example, continually grows its customer base by putting forth transparency in its data plans and being honest to its customers about data usage through direct text message updates.
Additionally, the CEO of the company, John Legere, is known to embody the company’s vision through his unfiltered statements and press events that help to humanize the brand with a certain “realness” many of its customers value. These transparency efforts have positively impacted T-Mobile’s bottom line. In the past year the company has been gaining more mobile phone customers than its three rivals (Verizon, AT&T and Sprint) combined, and most recently showed its leadership in the industry when it offered a popular buy on get one free deal on the Samsung s7 and competitors including AT&T followed suit with the same BOGO offer for its customers.
Social media company Buffer also made waves by making employee salaries public information. It shows the brand’s ability to embrace transparency fearlessly, and lets the public know just how people who work for the company are being compensated and ultimately how they are incentivized to work for their customers.
Customer loyalty is increasing for brands that are making bold moves towards transparency. It starts with companies being transparent to their employees and then goes to sharing formally private information about the business with consumers, involving them with the brand at a more intimate level. As society gravitates towards the need to know, companies that understand and meet this demand will succeed in the ever-growing informed market for business.