Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Transparency grows trust in your brand

The Dalai Lama says "a lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity." As we continue to have new plug-and-play services as part of our solutions offerings in our businesses, this has never been more true. So many services offered today (statushub included) are the sum of so many parts we leverage to create what you use to bring a seamless offering to our customers. In the midst of this, transparency has become almost paramount to how you manage the customers of your service end-to-end.

As proud as we are of statushub, we've never been shy about how the service is only possible because we get to stand on the shoulders of some amazing companies who we've been able to integrate into our service layer. And as such, those choices we make in using those partners in how we present our service to you not only speaks to us, but the trust we place in them to pass to you.

When any of us build service layers atop others, we create trust-chains. As part of this, a certain level of transparency has to come into play. We see this too in how you use statushub in your service layers. And you use statushub as part of your transparency.

Owning your mistakes, and exposing them at vulnerable times to your customers is a naturally terrifying idea

Being upfront is never a weakness. If anything, it's a show of strength and confidence in what you're offering in your service that you can stand-over with your customers. It's a fantastic component in your sales approach. It helps you engage trust early in the sales cycle. And in any relationship, establishing a mutual trust early is the key to success and longevity. It is this trust and transparency in times of difficulty that will allow your relationship with your customers to persist.

Trust is a two-way street. The act of transparency with your customers will also allow them to remain loyal to you. Owning your mistakes, and exposing them at vulnerable times to your customers is a naturally terrifying idea as it runs counter to what we've all been told about business. It is so easy to fall into the trap of focussing on the negatives of this that it's even easier to miss the positives of what it provides.

Innovation and solutions to problems that may never have been seen before without such nakedness that runs counter to traditional approaches to business provide incredible opportunities for increased loyalty, stronger relationships with your clients and even further the value of what you're offering as your service to them as a result. It's a fear, uncertainty and doubt that every single company today faces equally irrespective of size or finance.

In 2011, Heroku faced intense scrutiny during one of AWS's more spectacular outages as their services experienced problems, in some cases up to 60 hours for some of their customers. Instead of pointing the fingers at Amazon, they owned it. They owned the fact they chose Amazon. They owned the weaknesses in their decisions at that point which from the outside looked utterly catastrophic to their business.

They remained calm. They kept their dialogue with their customers constant, consistent, frank and open despite in some cases coming under a torrent of understandable frustration from their customers who were affected in turn (and some 'interested parties' sticking the boot in). These acts of transparency were what saved them. Even afterwards in their post-mortem, they owned their judgement errors as to how it affected them so badly.

It rightfully earned them respect and kudos even in the midst of some voiced dissatisfaction. The incident could have had a detrimental affect on their business, but because they handled it with such incredible frankness and exposing their vulnerability instead of hiding it, or being jerks and pointing the fingers of blame elsewhere, it was admirable.

Two years ago, John Hagel III from Deloitte co-wrote a piece for Fortune magazine and made an incredible point, which has stuck with me since I first read it:

Transparency matters when a participant is able to act, to the benefit of themselves and others in the ecosystem, as a result of knowing the bigger picture.

Services like statushub in your trust-chain implicitly allow you to remove distrust, and provide a sense of security. They allow your company to have an incredible opportunity to help foster stronger relationships with your customers, opportunities to find problems that were unknown until exposed and innovate for a stronger value proposition to your customers. Allowing your business to reflect some level of outward vulnerability with your customers isn't a weakness, it's strength. And like all strengths, when you focus on them and do more of them better, the mutual benefits are there for the taking.