Being Transparent with Customers | Life in the Connected Age

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We live in a world today that is incredibly connected. It’s also gradually becoming much more transparent. Sometimes that transparency can be downright scary.

I think it’s definitely in our nature as human beings to want to show others only what we think they want to see in us. We all want to be liked and to be approved of – something that probably goes way back to when we were kids.

It’s really no surprise that most businesses today want to do the same thing when it comes to their customers – especially when it comes to attracting new customers!

Our fears tell us that we couldn’t possibly share the entire picture with our clients if there’s any chance they might not like what they see once we’ve done so.

Or could we?

What if?httpfr.wikipedia.orgwikiFichierQuestion_mark_3d.png

What would happen if businesses were to totally abandon this kind of fearful thinking? What if businesses were to be so honest, transparent and forthcoming that you, the consumer, were able to see that entire picture in the clearest light possible?  A light that would show you both the good and the bad. A light being directed by someone who actually cared about your outcome, not only theirs.

Is it really possible for a business to be this transparent and still expect to survive and succeed, today?  I know of at least one Maine business that this approach seems to be working quite well for.

An Open Book Business

httpwww.flickr.comphotosrubberdragon6316001800A few days ago I happened to be reading through some of the blog articles on
the web site of a local real estate company we work very closely with – Brett Davis Real Estate.

Brett and his team run a small, successful real estate firm in the coastal community of Freeport Maine. Brett has been in real estate for more than 18 years now. In the world of Realtors, this is a very long time (the percentage of Realtors who make it past the 1st & 2nd years is in the single digits).

Brett not only survived those initial years, but went on to build a very loyal & sizable clientele. In time he started his own company.

There is no doubt in my mind that much of the success Brett and his team has experienced has come as a result of how up-front and transparent they are with their clients.

A Blog with a “Clear” Purpose

As I was reading through some of the articles on BDRE blog, several things caught my attention.

One thing that really struck me interesting was how diversified the posts were. It wasn’t all just info on market statistics and mortgage interest rates, like one might expect.

There was a lot of very useful and creative information people people could use in their daily lives, regardless of their intent to buy or sell a home.

What also surprised me (pleasantly) was how up-front and complete the content was. Much of the information in these articles was surprisingly transparent and “customer focused” – not just one sided information only painting the topics in a safe and risk-less light that would hold more benefit to them as a business.

These were painted in an honest light.

Business Transparency and Risk

One of the articles in particular really caught my eye.risk

The title was: High School Graduation Rates in Southern and Mid-Coast Maine.

The post was basically an alphabetized list compiled by the Department of Education, showing all of the school graduation rates throughout each of the towns that Brett and his team specialize in.

This wasn’t a handpicked list, mind you. It wasn’t the creme de la creme of only the top schools in the area – something that would be tempting for any of us to want to focus on.

This was the the whole package – a list of the good, the bad and the indifferent. There was no preference for one town or community over another. No apparent fear about a potential client being “turned off” about a particular school system or town because the information was out in the open.

I also found the article extremely forthcoming. I’m guessing most Realtors are very knowledgeable and accommodating with their clients when they are asked for this type of local information. Many buyers probably never even do so.

But to take the initiative and put it out in the open for all to see…without someone asking for it? That tells me a few things about the message an office like this is trying to send.

To me it says:

“I’m going to give you ALL of the information, not just the info that might sound good to you. I’ll give you everything your family needs to know, then you can decide what you’d like to do with that information.”

“I’m not going to hide anything from you out of fear that you might not like something I have to say. I’m going to share with you all the things you REALLY need to see…not just the things that look good on the surface.”

It also says “I care about each aspect of this process that affects your family, even if that means losing a potential sale in the short-run.”

That, in my opinion, is real business transparencyThe kind of transparency  that puts your clients best interests well before your own.

It’s also a bit of old fashioned risk…the GOOD kind of risk.

The kind of risk reputable long-term businesses build their reputations on. The kind of risk that puts faith in the honest approach to business – even if it means their company’s growth may take a little longer to achieve.

It’s also the risk of losing certain types of potential customers that may be willing to look elsewhere for someone more willing to tell them what they want to hear. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This is the kind of risk so many of today’s businesses and industries seem too
fearful of embracing – opting instead for that quick return, “what can you do for me TODAY?”, sort of thinking. A thinking that permeates so much of the instant gratification culture that surrounds us.

I know it is incredibly tempting for any business today to get caught up in focusing on short term survival and profits. We’ve all been through an incredibly challenging economic downturn over the last 6 or 7 years.

But ironically, I really believe it was just that sort of short term profit thinking that got us, as a country, into so much trouble in the first place. Maybe it’s time we all start thinking more about caring for the long term needs of our customers, instead?

It’s very hard for me to believe we wouldn’t be in a far better place today if we had been thinking this way all along, starting a decade ago.

Looking Forward

I have no idea where things will be heading for the business climate of our country. Ihttpwww.flickr.comphotoseschipul5154596724 have no economic crystal ball in my possession, unfortunately!

I hope things will be positive and I truly hope small businesses like Brett’s are able to continue thriving. I have to think they will.

I have a lot of faith that the results will be positive if more businesses are willing to adopt a truly up-front and transparent approach to how they deal with their customers.

We live in an incredibly connected and transparent time, my friends! Every aspect of our lives is becoming more and more available for everyone to see and share with others – it’s just the way things are. I’m guessing things will only become more so as time moves on.

Might as well embrace it now and enjoy the ride!

If you liked this article you may also want to check out: Is Customer Care Still Alive?

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