By making the facts transparent and easy to find we do each other and ourselves a service and good service is the foundation of good sales. I was reading a post on the blog Reality Burst about a search for transparency in restaurant’s pricing and menu options. As Eugene wandered around looking for menus posted in windows of restaurants I had the sense that he was looking for his expectations to be met. He expected to find a restaurant that served food he found appetizing and that fit within his budget. If he randomly walked in, sat down and opened a menu to find nothing he wanted to order, or higher prices than he wanted to pay (or worse, both) he would be disappointed and then have to choose to get up and leave or spend more than he wanted on food he wasn’t interested in eating. He was trying not to waste his time, money and caloric intake. I think most of us can relate to at least one of those desires.
The purpose of transparency in business is to avoid disappointment. When we feel that people, advertising, menus and websites are not being straight with us, we are forced to read between the lines. When fast food franchises advertise their newest product, we know it will never look as good on the tray as it does on the TV. Maybe we believed it as kids, but experience has brought our expectations down to a reasonable level. But, we trust the transparency in their pricing. The dollar figure is always prominently featured next to the burger or drink and we know that the price will be the same at all their locations. Look how well we have been trained!
So, how do you want to train the people you interact with through social media? Do you want to set their expectations at a reasonable level and then be able to exceed them? Do you want them to trust you and believe in what you say and do? Well, my friend, transparency can do all these things for you and more! What does it cost, you ask? Why it’s free! No shipping and handling fees or hidden charges ever! (This is any example of how not to create a sense of transparency, this sounds like there is a catch)
The path to transparency begins with you, be yourself. Build on that. If you are honest about who you are people will begin to trust you. If you have a dorky sense of humour, own it (I do!). People appreciate somebody who accepts themselves and respects others. Transparency can’t be something you turn off and on. The first thing I think when a person asks me, “Can I be honest with you?” is haven’t they been doing that all along?
In all my years of working with people at banks and credit unions I have tried offer everyone the same level of respect and honesty, regardless of their circumstances. I always tell people what I can do for them, rather than focussing on what I can’t. By taking the time to explain how the banking world works behind the scenes, they can see what the options and consequences are. Some people have been trying to fix a problem for long time and have run into so many dead ends and brick walls (neither of which are transparent) that they are frustrated beyond belief and then I somehow end up in front of them and by listening, hatching a plan and arming them with knowledge we work together to create a solution. That is the kind of service I strive for every day.
The level of trust that you can develop with people by being honest and consistent always amazes me. You don’t have to be a superhero and perform spectacular feats, you just have to let people see who you are and tell it like it is.