How to use transparency to grow your startup

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It’s no surprise that customer-centric disruption has led to a new era of unprecedented transparency in business. 

 

Thanks to flourishing startups and forward-thinking global players, the veil has been lifted in favour of a more empowered customer base – and it’s easy to see why.

 

Studies have proven that a more informed customer is a loyal customer; more information leads to trust which helps build a meaningful relationship with your customer. The results are clear, for our online retail clients, better transparency throughout the delivery process has led to decreases in customer complaints by up to 90% and increases in repeat purchases of around 1.3 times.

 

Transparency is a fundamental focus for Shippit. Anxiety about missing deliveries has significant potential to kill customer relationships for a growing online retailer. Whilst the larger players have embraced transparency in varying degrees, the challenge is not about simply sharing information, it’s about ensuring the information shared is meaningful and communicated in a way that drives action.

 

Here is what we have learned about transparency and how you can use it to help grow your sales and reduce operational overheads.

 

1. Determine what must be shared

To qualify whether or not to share information, you should answer ‘yes’ to the following questions:

 

  • Can my customer act or prepare to act based on this information?
  • Am I adding value or differentiating my brand by sharing this information with my customer?

 

Taking an example from the logistics industry, a parcel may move through several depots and data about this delivery can be exchanged between carriers and their IT systems. Whilst all of this data is tracked, this secondary information adds zero-value to the end-customer and is only helpful in assisting with issue resolution.

 

2. Consider the context

Making sure information is delivered in a meaningful context is just as important as determining what to share. You need to find the optimal balance of keeping your customer informed without pissing them off by bombarding them with information.

 

Consider the spectrum of communication channels available and their roles:

 

  • Phone call – where information needs to be shared and returned immediately
  • Text / App notification – best suited for immediate action. Use this sparingly.
  • Email – better for non-urgent attention and more detailed info. Great for important events/info that customers need to keep on file.
  • In-App / Web – best for non-urgent or time sensitive information. This gives your customer the power to access as much information as they want. Think historical timelines.

We have done a lot of research, testing and learning the right amount of information and the right channel fit. The best thing you can do is fail fast, iterate and improve.

 

3. Make transparency two-way

 

First there was Amazon, and then there was Uber – the kings of leveraging the power of user feedback. Feedback breeds just as much empowerment as transparency, so it’s important that we embrace its value. The days of the “no reply” email communications are well and truly over.

 

By refusing to give your customer an avenue to share their experience means you are giving them licence to share their negative experiences with friends or posting it all over your public facing social media pages.

 

If you decide to ask for feedback you have an even bigger responsibility to use it.

 

 

Robert Hango-Zada is the director of Sydney-based startup Shippit.

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