The startup phase is a critical time for a business. As owners develop business plans, they have many critical decisions to make. Among cost and profit projections and marketing reports, something that is often overlooked is the level of transparency a business will have. Transparency creates the grounds for trust and makes a relationship between the company and its’ customers very strong or tenuously weak. Only with a strong and positive relationship can a business gain and retain loyal customers. Without loyalty, your product is open to be overlooked.
Whether the business is a retail store, product manufacturer, service organization or a medical transcription school, customers and stakeholders want to have confidence in the company. A customer’s experience can be influenced greatly by how transparent a business truly is. Three tips on how to improve transparency in your business and therefore improve your customer’s experience are avoid misleading customers with fluff, practice the phrase “everyone should know”, and maintain a positive relationship with customers.
Avoid Misleading Customers with Fluff
No one likes to be misled, especially when it comes to something or someone they trust. Businesses should avoid adding fluff to help “sell” their products or services. Businesses often try to create a face of professionalism in the way the company administered. An example of this is when organizations use fake stock photos, found on the internet, in business proposals. Using accurate information in proposals can add value and demonstrate to customers that you aren’t afraid to show the public true details about the business. Another example is when companies state that marketing initiatives are a company endeavour when in reality it comes down to only a specific group of employees. Inaccurate stock photos and unspecific details are fluff tactics that take advantage of a customer’s trust and are things that should be avoided in order to build a transparent business.
Practice “Everyone Should Know”
Something that is common in the business world is the phrase that information is on a “need to know” basis. A business should avoid defining what customers and its’ employees need to know and when they need to know it. Instead, businesses should practice “everyone should know”. This opens the door for better communication within the business and with their’ customers. If information is important and relevant, then the people affected have the right to know.
Maintain a Positive Relationship
News has begun to spread faster and faster. There is no more waiting for the rest of the story or waiting to hear more. There is only here and now. There are three tactics to maintain a positive relationship between business owners and their customers. Those three tactics can be told in three words: aware, work and update.
To be aware means to be aware of the current situation the business is in. This includes financial status, marketing strategy, and current production numbers. The next step is to work. This sounds like common sense, but it goes deeper than just showing up for work every day. It means to work on the problem at hand by finding the best way or ways to fix it. Update means to simply update employees and customers further details about the current problem as they become available. Doing those three things will help build the desired transparency and success in any business.
As important as transparency between a business and its’ customer is, the tactics explained above can also be put towards the relationship between a business and its’ employees. If an employee can’t trust their boss and how their company is being run, it affects how the employee works, which is always noticed by customers.
Companies and business that don’t take the steps to become transparent are often filled with bureaucracy, office politics and unmotivated employees. That type of business environment for the employees will affect the customer experience and make it hard for customers to enjoy interactions with the employees. We all have gone somewhere and noticed an employee that clearly didn’t want to be there. At the end of the exchange, that unhappy employee is the only thing we remember. Think about that business and how it made you feel when even the worker didn’t want to be there. Every company’s goal is to create a friendly environment where customers want to return.