Updated: Feb 8
Is transparency a buzzword, a culture, a requirement? No, it is just the right thing to do.
The concept of “need to know” has undergone a significant shift in recent years. With the entire universe of information only a click away and social media platforms keeping everyone constantly connected, individuals increasingly feel they need to know and share everything. Whether it is product reviews, political opinions, innermost thoughts or even a photo of today's lunch, people are living their lives completely out in the open. Transparency has extended beyond personal interactions and is now a reality in business. Across all industries, transparency has never been more important to a successful business model. Withholding or cleverly reshaping information is no longer a viable option for this new era of consumers who are savvier than any generation before them and for whom skepticism seems to be a default setting. To build brand loyalty, companies need to first build trust.
There is a common misconception out there about transparency. Far too often, companies see it only as a tool to be used when owning up to a mistake or righting a wrong. This approach is shortsighted and is not an effective way to build trust. Customers will be far more forgiving of mistakes if a company has a history of being forthright with all interactions, not just the negative ones.
“Customers will be far more forgiving of mistakes if a company has a history of being forthright with all interactions, not just the negative ones.”
Instead of being scared by transparency, businesses should embrace it as way to improve service and increase customer loyalty. Here are a few that I use:
Be personally transparent by picking a medium used by your consumer and share your thoughts and ideas.
Be internally transparent from the top down. As the CEO, portray transparency with the entire staff on the good and bad. Do not hold back. Let people know what you are working on, just do not make promises you cannot keep.
Be bold as a company with transparency and people will come to trust you and be far more forgiving when something does not work out or when you make a mistake. Do not be scared to try innovative ways to develop a deeper, trust-building dialogue with your customers.
Be prompt in your delivery of transparency. For example, if a company engages in a practice that costs its shareholders money, but doesn’t admit its responsibility for the loss until years later, that is not transparent behavior, regardless of how complete the company discloses the details of its behavior.
Consider the company that you run not only as a means of earning a profit, but as an extension of your own personal reputation.
Whether it is in dealings with consumers or internal practices with employees, there is a need for businesses to meet the expectation of transparency in a real way and not just as an afterthought or as a marketing tactic.