How to Improve Transparency with Your Customers
Customers prefer to feel as if they can trust the brands they patronize. Unfortunately, we operate in a business world in which too many companies focus on their own selfish priorities and hardly care about their customers.
One solid way to achieve success is to flip the script and boost your transparency.
The Need for Brand Transparency
According to a new study by Label Insight, a company that specializes in gathering product data, brand transparency is the key to customer loyalty. The survey, which analyzed more than 2K customers and their interactions with various brands, found that 94% of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers total transparency.
Nearly three in four consumers (73%) say they’re willing to pay more for a product that offers total transparency in all attributes. Although the Label Insight study examined the food industry in particular, it offers useful insights for other industries and niches.
“No longer can you slap a label on a product and expect it to fly off the shelves. Consumers want to know more than what’s in your products. They want detailed insights regarding where you sourced your materials, how the product was made, what values guided the production process, and so on,” entrepreneur Kenny Kline says.
If you’re selling a service, businesses want to know what processes are involved in executing your operation, and how it might affect them, your employees, and the local community. There’s far less room to hide or disguise than what used to be the case.
Making Transparency a Priority
By definition, transparency is a property of observation. As entrepreneur Chris Wren puts it:
“For brands to be transparent, there must be an absence of hidden agendas and conditions, and a minimum degree of disclosure wherein transactions, practices, dealings and agreements are open to all for verification.”
In simpler terms, it means there should be no difference between what you say and do behind closed doors and what you say and do in public. There’s a consistency of thought, action, and beliefs … even if some people disagree with them.
If you want to build transparency as an entrepreneur or brand, the goal is clear. It’s achieving the goal and executing all the small steps along the way that’s the challenge. Here are a few ways you can improve in this area:
1. Build an Internal Culture of Trust
“If you haven’t already, create a culture of transparency and trust within your organization,” content marketing professional Mary Blackiston writes.
“Get rid of the secrets. Open the lines of communication with your team members. Trust your employees — and show them that you trust them. In turn, they will trust you too.”
When you establish a culture of transparency and trust at the center of your organization, similar qualities will automatically surface in customer-facing situations. So make this a priority moving forward.
2. Be Straightforward with Pricing and Invoicing
There’s nothing customers despise more than deceptive or dishonest pricing. It makes them feel exposed and used.
If you want to promote transparency, you have to be straightforward about your pricing structures, how and when you offer deals and discounts, and how you collect payments.
Invoicing is one of those functions you may not spend a lot of time thinking about, but it matters. Using professional invoices — as opposed to something you throw together at the last minute — can go a long way toward keeping customers informed and aware of what’s happening.
3. Get Customer Service Right
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, believes that customer service shouldn’t be a department within a company; it should be the entire company. Train your customer service reps so they understand what’s happening at every level of the firm, and know how to provide honest, helpful feedback.
Are You Prioritizing Transparency?
A lack of transparency doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything unethical or wrong. Instead, it suggests you aren’t being as open and forthcoming as you could (and should) be.
In the past, you could get away with this. Today, consumers have higher expectations. By implementing the suggestions cited above, you can bridge the gap between what customers want and what you actually deliver.