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The age of transparency and authenticity is here to stay. Those characteristics have become such valuable social currencies that one 2016 study found that 94% of customers are more likely to become loyal to a brand if it’s transparent; a full 73% would pay more for a product from an honest company. So instead of refusing to reveal pricing or talk specifics, it’s time to accept that the rules have changed.
Nearly everyone can look up information on their smartphones, and I believe that as a result, consumers are now demanding more transparency from brands to gain loyalty from customers.
Yes, the world has changed in many ways with the arrival of the internet. One is the change in the power dynamic between buyers and sellers. Before the internet, customers often had to take leaps of faith with many purchases. Information about some products or services could be hard to find. Online review boards and company websites weren’t yet factors, and we had to rely on the messages we received from companies to inform our decisions. Corporations held all the cards.
Now, I’ve observed power has shifted from sellers to buyers in a big way. Consumers have access to various review, e-commerce and social media sites. Customers trust what other people say about their experiences with a brand, which influences their purchasing decisions. Reviews — good or bad — have tremendous influence.
As the CEO of an active workspace furniture supplier, I see this firsthand. I personally read many of my company’s reviews. Capturing that honest feedback — and doing something about it — is how you build brand love.
Moving toward transparency
Whether you want to open the door to better communication with your customers or create a more positive office culture, you can focus on a few simple actions that will make immediate changes with lasting outcomes.
1. Listen and react to customers.
Rely on your customers for positive and pointed feedback, especially those who test-drive your solutions. Sharing passion and information about your product shouldn’t be a one-way street. Asking customers for their thoughts is a great way to connect with your fan base, and it’s a huge opportunity to learn and grow.
You have the tools to earn the kind of customer loyalty you want. All you have to do is solicit opinions, listen carefully and seek out those who love your product. Once you analyze that feedback with appropriate tools, you’ll know where to leverage your opportunities for innovation.
My company, for example, always used feedback as our guide. We modified our approach more than 20 times on the basis of customer feedback, allowing the design to keep evolving until we had a version of our company we knew our customers would love. We also started offering new products based on what our fans said they wanted.
2. Give thanks.
Two words can go a long way toward building valuable, long-lasting relationships. “Thank” and “you” are near the top of the list. After every customer touch point, show your appreciation by acknowledging them with a simple gesture.
Thank them quickly and genuinely for choosing your company over an online competitor or the other shop down the street. Take time to address a recent complaint they might have made; your words can lead to a faster resolution that’s completely authentic and unrehearsed.
3. Invite honesty.
Transparency begins at the top. You can go so far as removing your office door to drive that point home. Be accessible. Mingle with your workforce, and listen to them. Put together a diverse team so you can gather a range of ideas and perspectives. Give those people voices, and hear them out when they express concerns.
The more accepting you are, the more accepting your middle managers will be (and the better your end product will be, too). Your role in the C-suite is to become an honest, grounded leader.
I believe that in business today, nothing stays secret — including anything you’ve tried to hide. So fling back the curtain, and show the world what your team can offer. You’ll be amazed at the overwhelmingly positive response.
June 13, 2019 at 08:02AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs