Integrity is often the key to success for brands seeking to improve or maintain a positive public image. This integrity is often something overlooked by marketing managers in an effort to reach a sales goal, but this oversight can backfire and cause disastrous consequences.
Today, much emphasis is placed on respecting consumer privacy and data. This goes hand in hand with how companies communicate with their customers, and how transparent they are in those communications.
Transparency does not have to mean giving away proprietary information or trade secrets, contrary to what some may believe. No, transparency and integrity in communications can be done on a much smaller, but still noticeable, scale.
Disclosures and Statements
“Read the fine print.” It’s a warning often uttered by skeptical consumers who have been burned one too many times by a sneaky brand. Signing a contract, agreeing to a plan, or signing up for a new service all involves a level of trust on the part of the consumer.
There are many legal disclosures that often must be made. This aside, make sure that any “fine print” is clear and as easy to understand as possible. Nothing is worse than line upon line of tiny print that only serves to cause anxiety for the reader.
When a customer signs up for a new service, such as a web design package, be clear about what information is needed and what will be done with that information. Don’t bog them down in fine print. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point — and don’t go back on your word. This is an element that, sadly, many businesses miss. This only destroys consumer trust.
Communicate Changes Clearly
Another common complaint from consumers is the fact that businesses often make policy changes without proper communication.
Let’s say that a monthly service is increasing in price. While some companies may offer a “grandfathering” process where legacy users are not affected, many will simply boost prices with little or no warning.
Others will send out a mass email, which more often than not is sent to a user’s junk folder, and consider that sufficient communication.
How can this be done better? Of course, there is a level of consumer responsibility to know what is happening and to read communications. But is there a better way to communicate change responsibly?
Consider sending a more tailored email if that’s the business’ go-to method of communication. Tailor the subject line to include the customer’s first name, or include a strong call to action, such as “Changes are coming! Open me to get up to speed”. Don’t expect a customer to open a generic email with a boring subject line.
Another option is through face-to-face interaction. During customer interactions, ask if they’ve heard of the upcoming changes to the pricing structure. If they haven’t, direct them to a website or other source for more information.
Make It Easy
On that note, be sure that any changes have a “hub” of information. It’s easy to set up and makes communications that much easier. Instead of having to dig for information, sending users to a specific URL to find out more about policy changes keeps the level of transparency and proactive communication high.
Marketing communications can be tricky, and so can consumer reactions. But it is the responsibility of the business to ensure they are communicating proactively, responsibly, and with transparency. In a world where consumer trust is finicky, it’s important for businesses to stay on top of their communications with integrity in order to maintain the loyalty of their customers.