Today, companies face countless challenges, including staffing shortages, inflation, supply chain troubles and other sorts of other pandemic-related issues.
These challenges give brands two choices: make excuses or show transparency.
Alli Webb, founder of Drybar, is a long-time champion of what she calls radical transparency. For brands to be truly customer-centric, they have to be honest and not hide behind excuses.
Transparency starts with empathetic customer-centric leaders. Not every customer interaction will be flawless, but leaders need to set the tone to provide an honest and transparent response to customers to make things right.
Even if the companies can’t fix the problem, they can still make customers feel better. Webb says it requires being honest with customers about what is happening and empowering frontline employees to showcase transparency and empathy. That often requires acknowledging the struggle and clearly stating what the brand is doing to find a solution.
Transparency has long been a hallmark of Webb’s customer-focused leadership style and often comes through in her communication. Even as CEO, Webb responded to every Yelp review until the company grew too large to do it herself. The team who took over the job received extensive training to develop empathy and transparency and build customer relationships.
Even when Drybar had to raise its prices, Webb sent an email to customers explaining the change. She acknowledged that no one wanted to increase prices, which built an empathetic bond with customers, and provided honest reasons for the change. What could have been a negative experience for customers turned into a way to understand the brand better and see its values of providing excellent service and fair employee wages at affordable prices.
Customers don’t expect brands to be perfect, but they do expect honesty. When leaders set the tone with transparency, they can empower their employees and create strong bonds and customer experiences.