By Arshae Ahmed
You probably won’t find anyone who doesn’t know or remember the practically earth shattering scandal that Facebook found itself in last year. This particular data scandal is one that will surely be talked about for years to come not only because people love talking about scandals but because this incident put the data and privacy of over 2 billion people of the world in jeopardy. As clichéd as all quotes about honesty usually sound what they say is true, nothing is above honesty and transparency.
There’s a reason that companies like Google and Apple have such loyal and dedicated consumers. It’s because these two companies have not only promised their users of complete honesty and transparency but also have actively worked to keep that promise. It’s quite simple, really. In this day and age where data is practically the number 1 method of acquiring customers, there’s nothing that appeals more to a customer than being informed about which of their data are being collected, how those are being used and how they can opt out of a certain data driven service or communication. Again, in an age where social media helps spread everything like wildfire, not being transparent about products, services, elements or prices can have extreme ramifications once the word is out. When a company promises safety and puts the customer first, it’s almost guaranteed that the customer trusts them enough to not only stick around for a while but also recommend the product or service to others.
People have more access to information these days anyway, thanks to the internet and social media. Hence, customer experience is shared in an instant. And so, the only way to earn more customers and win in such a state is – transparency. It’s essential in this regard to provide all facts to customers before a finger can be pointed or questions can be raised. Label Insight, a food label data company in 2018 conducted a research and found that 74% customers would switch to a different brand, if it provided more transparency. About 40% customers said that they would pay more for a product if an increased transparency about it is provided while 80% said they’re likely to be loyal to brands that are transparent. Clearly, transparency is the only way to win. If you still have questions, here’s why. Loyalty is practically proportional to trust – that is built on transparency. When a company doesn’t hide the truth about what their products offer and where their flaws are, the company automatically gives customers the belief that the company isn’t afraid to own up and is certainly not trying to hide anything. What a lot of companies seem to forget is that by practicing transparency, they not only hold the door open for new customers but also give their current consumers a reason to be loyal and stand by them during challenging times. In order to practice transparency, there are of course certain things companies can adopt that include but are not limited to –
Regular and Open Communication: One can’t claim to be transparent, if they are not communicating what they’re transparent about. Which is why it’s essential to maintain regular communication with customers regarding the regular policies and new changes to be made, in the most convenient methods, be it via email or customer service.
Practice Accountability: It’s fundamental to own up to errors and hold oneself accountable while practicing transparency for mistakes that may take place. It’s important to know that it’s okay, just as it is important to admit to it.
Internal Transparency: We practice what we see. We do what is done to us and so, in order to practice transparency externally, it’s important to practice it internally. Because you see, these very employees are the ones who will carry out the essential steps to communicate that transparency to the customers.
Transparency in marketing is key in acquiring and retaining customers and has been proven time and time again; not only by conducting surveys and researches but also by looking at the initiatives some companies have undertaken, in order to practice transparency.
It’s no surprise that a fast food company has struggled myths and misinformation about its product and ingredients for years. And so, in order to establish the truth behind their work, McDonald’s Canada launched its “Our food. Your question” campaign which is not only one of the most talked about campaigns in marketing but also one to admire. Launched in 2014, it’s an ongoing campaign which hosts over 42,000 questions in the FAQ site with over 3.8 million visitors. In order to assure customers that the beef patty was made from real cows, they had even shared a video footage of it. If that doesn’t give on reassurance, what will?
You’d think that being such a huge e-commerce and apparel company, Zappos would do things whatever they wanted to with no questions being asked. However, the company being a firm believer and promoter of transparency has made it a point to share internal information with its vendors. By giving vendors complete visibility, the company has guaranteed strong relationships at its very foundation.
When the very core of your value proposition is being low cost, you need to make sure your customers don’t get added costs when they choose your service. And so, in order to make sure that no hidden fees are involved in its services, the major U.S. airline launched the campaign, “Transfarency” which showed it keeping its promise of being a low cost carrier.
The studies conducted and the campaigns launched have made it clear that as more time passes, more people have increased access to information and require more transparency to establish trust. There’s no denying that people these days have more questions as they are clearly more aware of the surroundings. People want to know how a product is made, what core values a company has, what they believe in and strive for. These are things that help them relate to the companies, all of which are available at their best state, when the company provides the information. Especially with millennials being a significant chunk of the consumers of this era, who are known to be extremely alert, transparency is a necessity. Label Insight’s 2016 Transparency ROI Study has shown that 86% millennial mothers are willing to pay more for products with complete transparency. Why it matters is quite simple, really. They represent about $200 billion in spending power. That’s not an amount to miss out on; so now you know why transparency is key.