Many of us have grown up believing that it’s inappropriate to “air our dirty laundry.” We’ve been taught that some things are best kept behind closed doors. In business, we’ve learned through the years that we need to put our best foot forward and impress customers and prospects, so they will continue to conduct business with us.
However, customer expectations are changing. We have reached a point in which the market assumes that a company that seems perfect very likely isn’t; it’s better to show some warts in order to seem more believable to your customers. The more transparent your business is, the more likely you are to build trust with your customer base.
Transparency is an overused buzzword, but that doesn’t mean the concept behind it isn’t worthwhile. Transparency is the lack of hidden agendas or conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision-making. It’s essential for a free and open exchange – precisely what a company should want from its client relationships.
Transparency in business goes beyond honesty. It includes timely, full disclosures about happenings both good and bad.
Despite this, when the going gets tough, a lot of businesses shy away from transparency. Whether something has gone significantly wrong with a company, or it simply made a mistake on a customer order, many businesses try to hide their shortcomings, fearful that if customers find out there will be negative repercussions.
It’s far better to view difficult situations as opportunities to build trust. When you’re truthful – or transparent – with your customers about something that has gone awry, you’ll often build greater trust. You’ll be demonstrating that you trust them to understand the situation, and also that you have a commitment to doing the right thing – which is what everyone wants from a business relationship. By infusing trust into the relationship, you strengthen the relationship.
Creating a commitment to transparency needs to come from the top. When the CEO is honest with employees, customers, and other key audiences, it creates an environment that encourages being open and truthful, ultimately leading to healthier relationships built on trust. In today’s global marketplace, customers have choices all around the world, and they’re going to choose partners that they trust.
Your customers are smart. They don’t expect you to be perfect. When a company has the courage to admit its lack of perfection, it illustrates for customers that you prefer to operate in the open in a trustworthy way.
Contact us at 215.441.4600 or Email if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.
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