There’s a lot that goes into building a satisfied and loyal customer base, but if you asked us about the most important quality a brand can have when it comes to customer relationships, we’d have to say it is transparency. When we say transparency, we mean being completely open about business decisions and outcomes that affect your customers, and this includes both positives and negatives. Brands often broadcast success stories but keep failures hush-hush, almost as if they were ashamed. Nothing great was ever created without failing and, most importantly, learning from those failures. When you share your success and failures, you are completely honest and truly transparent with your customers. In the eyes of your customers, being honest at all times is the highest form of integrity, and nothing fosters loyalty more than integrity. Customers are willing to stand by a brand through its ups and downs as long as there is trust. So, how do you go about building this transparent ecosystem? Having thrived in the industry for over two decades, we’ve given this much thought. We’ve realized the key approach that has helped us form long and trusted relationships with our customers and employees is built on honesty and transparency. We work hard to build an open and honest workforce. This honesty permeates to the top and allows the brand to be transparent with customers. In the process, we also identified four steps to building a transparent workforce.

The first step is fostering an organization-wide environment where your employees know they are allowed to make mistakes. Let’s face it; mistakes are bound to happen whether you allow it or not. In an environment where management is critical about mistakes, however, employees are going to be afraid to admit them and ask for help. Worse, they will never experiment out of fear of making a mistake. Restricting curiosity and experimentation results in stunting growth. Create a work environment where employees are not punished for making mistakes and are given the encouragement and tools to fix them. You will have a team that will be honest with management about work, and this will allow you to, in turn, be honest with customers.

The second step is having frequent touchpoints with your team; the best way to do this is through daily standups. Standup meetings are short so running them daily is relatively easy and not at all time-consuming. Your teams get an outlet to talk about progress or ask for help, and management gets regular updates about how projects are moving.

The third step is getting your team to demo what work was done rather than ask for progress reports. Reports are insightful but getting your team to walk you through the work will give you more information on where the project stands.

The fourth and final step is involving your employees (stakeholders, if not all employees) in the processes of project management – right from ideation to closure. This gives everyone a sense of accountability and allows team members to voice their ideas and concerns, which will help you create more achievable goals. In conclusion, companies need to inculcate the habit of transparency right from the highest levels of the hierarchical ladder to the bottom. Customer-facing conversations cannot be transparent if your teams are not open about their work, progress, and issues. What are approaches that have worked well in your organization?