7 Ways Transparency Can Benefit Your Business

by James Adams · 27 comments

Transparency in Business
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This is a guest post by James Adams, on just why transparency is such a big “deal” these days, and why it can be good for your business.  As someone who strives to be pretty transparent myself, I felt as a BGB reader you’d likely appreciate the post and perhaps even have some insight yourself on how transparency has helped you in your own entrepreneurial journey. If so we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Your business is your business, but sometimes allowing others to know your business makes good sense. We all like a certain amount of privacy, especially when it comes to financial dealings and embarrassing details, but staying mum about your business or personal financial health could hurt you in the long run.

Transparency can help your business to grow. Openness about your successes and failures will inspire your customers to trust you when they see that you do not try to make your business seem better than it really is.

By conveying a realistic picture of business finances, customers will trust your brand because they know that you tell them the truth. Rather than putting out phoney numbers or embellishing your track record, just be honest about the condition of your business and you will be surprised at how your customers will respect you for it.

Here are 7 ways transparency can benefit your business.

Stick with the Facts

Revealing the considerations involved in your decision making process may be a good thing, but pointing fingers and assigning blame may not be appropriate.

Your business should disclose some of the decisions it makes and many of the reasons for it, but publicizing who caused a problem or a failure may prove disconcerting to both your employees and your customers. By sticking with the facts, you let customers know what you are doing without presenting any awkward facts or opinions that may make people feel uncomfortable.

Accept Your Humanity

Every business will have a failure in some form over time. Whether it is a quality problem, a communication problem, or an ethics problem, you are best to acknowledge it and take measures to correct it rather than pretend it never happened.

Deep inside we all understand that people are not perfect: customers often will extend the same understanding of your mistakes as they seek for themselves when they make mistakes. When you do the right thing, you inspire confidence in the midst of a pessimistic business world.

Secrets are a Thing of the Past

There used to be some merit in the argument that trade secrets and business problems could be contained. Nowadays, employees leak facts and figures and everyone knows how to make just about everything because the information is all online. Good public relations now trump secrecy, so don’t alienate your customers by refusing to discuss what they already know.

Customers Appreciate Disclosure

Rather than pretending that you offer an impartial assessment of a products you are paid to represent, tell them about your relationship with the company that makes them and explain to them why you feel like the products are right for them. This avoids distaste should customers discover your business relationship while offering you the opportunity to sell your product.

Be Transparent Online Too

If you shop online a lot, you may have noticed how many companies do not reveal any details about ownership, nor do they offer sufficient contact information. Suspicions that your business wants to avoid interaction with customers will usually result in fewer sales. Everyone who has done business online knows that phone calls can be frustrating and time consuming, but don’t let that stop you from allowing your customers that pathway of communication.

Similarly, don’t be afraid to let the online community know who you are. Sure, if people see photos of you and your business, they may think that you are a small or inexperienced operation; but that’s better than leading them on to think you are bigger and more established than you really are.

Put the Customer in Charge

Many customers think that they have to fight long and hard to get what they want from a business: surprise them with the way you run yours. For example, make it incredibly easy to subscribe or unsubscribe from your mailing list. If you are using tracking cookies and bots, tell them in big letters up front rather than burying the information inside your privacy policy.

Similarly, if customers want a refund, give it to them. Sure, some customers will take advantage of such a policy of openness, but many will feel secure in knowing that they are the ones that ultimately determine what they do with their time and money.

Besides, trying to trap people into receiving material they do not want forcing them to keep merchandise they do not like only sets you up for disaster. Let the customer opt in or out. Let the customer decide whether or not to keep your product. Let them tell you what they like or do not like about your business and let them choose whether to buy from you or not.

Be Committed to Transparency

If your business says that it will be transparent, mean it. Don’t rely on tricks and ambiguous words to trick people into doing business with you. Learn from Obama. As a campaigner, he promised the most open and transparent government ever, only to renege on that promise inflaming much ire and frustration among the news media and the public.

For example, if you offer a no questions asked refund policy, honor it even if you have to issue ten refunds in a day. Your reputation among customers will suffer if you do not keep your word, especially when it hurts you.

These 7 ways transparency can benefit your business should help guide you into the formulation of an effective transparency policy that will set you apart from the pack. When customers learn that you can be trusted to reveal both the good and the bad, they will reward you with more of their business.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Emory Rowland August 24, 2010 at 8:41 PM

RT @BigGirlBranding: 7 Ways Transparency Can Benefit Your Business: This is a guest post by James Adams – http://bit.ly/agNTPE

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Tinh August 25, 2010 at 6:05 AM

Transparency and disclosure seems a MUST for business success :-)

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admin August 27, 2010 at 9:33 PM

Hey hun… agreed! :D lol

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sanjay August 25, 2010 at 6:28 AM

Good post. Transparency instill confidence in customers on your product. Confidence of customer is the best thing to buy for success of any product.

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admin August 27, 2010 at 9:34 PM

Hey Sanjay.. I agree, customer confidence is vital, and transparency helps facilitate that. :)

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Marlon Sanders August 25, 2010 at 12:34 PM

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Craig Deakin August 26, 2010 at 8:21 AM

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Mike Johansson August 26, 2010 at 3:25 PM

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Joella August 27, 2010 at 10:03 AM

Transparency and honesty go hand in hand I think, but there are times where too much truth is not a good thing.

Disclose too much of a bad or unfortunate circumstance and your potential customers/readers may feel that you are trying to sway them by playing on their sympathy. They may feel like you are trying to manipulate them.

As in all things, use common sense and don’t take it too far. You don’t want total transparency, that can leave you naked and vulnerable. But you can’t be a completely closed book either, as in all things strive for balance.

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admin August 27, 2010 at 9:55 PM

Hey Joella.. too true, some things are just too personal to share. I try to include my readers a bit in my life, but not give out all the gory details. And I try to make things all above-board in my business as well, because I’m here to help, and if something I’m doing is working or not working, I want my readers to be able to learn something from it themselves. :) But you’re right, it’s always smart to exercise some reserve, especially if it’s deeply personal.

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Jay August 28, 2010 at 5:00 AM

I think transparency is most important online. It is so hard to earn and give trust to the people in the internet. That is why being transparent can help you build your integrity and credibility online. Though I agree with Joella, too. Too much of it may not be good also. Just limit yourself with the things that you share to people. Keeping a secret is different from lying. Personal information such as telephone number or home address are not advisable to be shared online…

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admin August 28, 2010 at 11:45 PM

Hey Jay.. thanks for commenting. I agree, it’s not always the safest route to share your personal phone numbers and things online. I make it easy to access me via email, twitter, and facebook, and figure that is plenty accessible. Rarely do I give out my phone number, as it’s my cell anyway.

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JimAllen August 28, 2010 at 6:46 PM

Enjoyed the post. Good information to absorb, discern and use. Be yourself and it all will work out. Treat folks the way you wish to be treated and expect no more than you are willing give.

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admin August 28, 2010 at 11:46 PM

Hey Jim! Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it. :) James did a great job. I’ve always been an advocate of treat people the way you yourself would like to be treated. Comes from my days growing up, when my grandma would tell me don’t say something unless you have something nice to say. lol

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Veronica Cervera August 8, 2011 at 12:26 PM

People want interaction and transparency. We however, do not need to lay out everything out on the table just because we are open and transparent. Just as long as you stay true to who you are and what your business represents are what matters.

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admin September 15, 2011 at 1:23 PM

Amen.

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