Community Futures Meridian

Box 2167, 125 - 1st Avenue East, Kindersley, SK - Phone: (306) 463-1850

Truth and Transparency

  • May 2, 2017
  • Written by Meridian Admin

My, how the world has changed radically over the last year. The Oxford English Dictionary’s 2016 word of the year was post-truth. The definition, “… an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’ (Oxford English Dictionary).

Add fake news too and it’s understandable that consumers are becoming increasingly suspicious of businesses, especially big ones.

When people start to believe rhetoric rather than the truth, there is bound to be a kickback and in a recent survey almost three-quarters of respondents said they research a company before making a purchase.

Trust has taken a hit in recent months as consumers begin to realize a lot of what they read or hear is not necessarily true. Fake news, hyperbole, propaganda and downright lies have become so commonplace it’s hard to know which way is up. Consumers are beginning to think the system is failing them.

We are all guilty in some part of propagating fake news; emails, photographs, videos are forwarded without a thought or concern as to whether the information is correct. Often this fake news is forwarded again and again and becomes de facto truth along the way. No wonder consumers don’t know what, or who, to believe anymore.

This has led to intelligent consumers doing their homework and researching products, services and companies long before they decide to make a purchase. Not only that, they often dig deeper and research you as the business owner.

The Internet makes it difficult to hide. If on your Facebook page, Twitter feed, or LinkedIn messages you have been either vocally pro, or vitriolically against someone, or something, it’s likely your customers will learn about it. At that point you may become a hero to some and enemy to others. Not a position a small business owner wants to put themselves in. The frightening thing is that your personal persona can easily become part of your business brand – for good or bad.

Then again, if your company’s product or service is poor you have nowhere to hide. There are far too many places for people to tell the world what they think of you.

Going back to post-truth, there are challenges when fighting against a consumer perception which is coloured by the rhetoric spouted by competition, the Internet, or even media. Who are your customers supposed to trust?

By becoming more transparent you can start to build trust. Here are six ways you can help your customers have confidence in you and your company.

· Provide more stats and facts. Be open about what you sell. The more you can tell them the greater they will trust you.

· Quantify whenever you can. Never say, “our product has less calories” find out the facts and say, “our product has 400 calories fewer than …”

· Be overly honest – far more honest than your competitors.

· Provide your customers with insights into your industry, manufacturing process and the like – make your transparency obvious.

· Keep on top of both positive and negative comments such as those posted on sites like Yelp. Reply to all comments and be honest if your company performed poorly. No one is perfect and forgiveness is often not difficult to obtain if you handle it correctly.

· Promote your corporate culture and values and live them, locally, nationally, globally – and of course in your online presence.

Take a long, hard look at your values and ensure you can be proud of them. It’s no good just appearing truthful and transparent, you have to be so to the core of your business and the root of your soul.

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