Transparency is a necessity when it comes to good business and keeping your customers coming back. It involves welcoming customers and making clear that you follow ethical and legal practices. It also includes being open with your customers about what you represent and the services that they are paying for. There are many ways to show your customers that you are an honest and upfront company.
Mission Statement and Business Practices
Post your mission statement and business practices in visible places throughout your stores, on your websites and in correspondence. Also include that information on receipts and other billing material. Having these guidelines prominently placed establishes clear expectations (for example, in the case of product returns). Provide contact information that is easy to find. If your customers can see your policies on order, returns and descriptions of services rendered, they are less likely to get the wrong idea or file a complaint on your company.
During and After a Transaction
One great way to help ensure your customers are happy with products or services is to keep them updated on progress in real time. For example, if a customer places an order online, send emails at distinct stages such as when the order is processed, fulfilled and shipped. Include as much information as possible such as tracking numbers. If you have many customers, you can allow customers to log into an account and see where in the queue their request is.
While a customer is placing an order, disclose any fees upfront and clearly. Do not hide anything. After an order is placed, give your customers an itemized receipt of charges. A great example of this policy is seen with charter jet rental companies. Some companies will give you an estimate of the total cost and then give you the actual bill with a list of charges only after services are rendered. Other companies like JetSuite give you the final jet charter rates with jetsuite.com so that there aren’t any surprises when it’s time to pay the bill.
Readily Available Reports
Reports and other documentation let people know how your company is doing. One example is an annual report which you can post in an easy-to-find spot on your website. Discuss your earnings, revenues and projected profits and expenses. Use clear and direct language.
Customer Service and Taking Responsibility
Mistakes occur in even the most well-run and ethical businesses. One true mark of an ethical company is how it responds to such mistakes. Customers need the peace of mind and security of knowing that if they trust you with their business and something goes wrong, you will take care of the matter. Such an issue handled swiftly and promptly will stick in the customer’s mind—probably more so than the original mistake.
A well-designed website answers customers’ questions (and prospective customers’ questions). List information on your business’s history, pricing and other important matters. You can also promote your business’s values—for instance, if you donate to a charity or have fundraisers.
Trust and transparency start from the ground up with a mission statement that reflects your business’s practices. Be open and honest through every stage of the process.