In June of 2014, Facebook found itself in a firestorm of criticism over a 2012 mood experiment it conducted. The company chose not to disclose to their members that the mood selection in their Facebook status would influence what they saw in their news feed. As if this were not enough for the social media giant, Facebook again found itself on the defensive in August as questions arose about the privacy of its messaging app.
Facebook has since released a blog post addressing some of the user concerns over its lack of transparency. In the post, Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer says, “In releasing the study, we failed to communicate clearly why and how we did it.”
Benjamin Franklin’s saying “Honesty is the best policy” has evolved to “Transparency is the best policy”. We live in an era where companies that choose to hide or play down their motives or weaknesses create an eventual liability. Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book, says customers have come to expect transparency as a corporate standard.
Companies can benefit by embracing transparency both internally and externally. If you receive customer complaints, answer them honestly and in a reasonable amount of time. Transparency not only brings the problems to your attention but can also provide innovative solutions. Clients who feel you are being honest when dealing with their issue will be more willing to help search for a solution.
Transparency also breeds loyalty from clients and from employees. Clients want to deal with companies they feel they can trust. If your company reinforces the commitment to transparency by action, clients will tend to be more forgiving of occasional “hick ups” or errors. The same cannot be said for companies that have a reputation of constantly trying to cover up their mistakes.
Employees also want to work for a company they feel they can trust. Every year, the Great Place to Work Institute publishes a list ranking companies on employee survey results. Part of this survey measures the degree of trust the employees have in their management and their brand. In most cases, employees that feel their company is transparent are far more engaged and loyal. This can lead to higher customer satisfaction and ultimately higher profits.
Transparency can be a scary idea at first. Exposing weakness is not something we seem to be wired to do naturally. Every company desires to have a winning strategy and there is no reason why transparency should not be the primary component.
You want to increase customer loyalty while engaging them in your brand. You also want your employees to be loyal and engaged in their jobs. And of course, you want better revenue and higher profits right? Well, transparency is definitely the “win-win-win” answer.