You may have heard the recent press about Apple intentionally slowing down older iPhones without advising its customers. Whether the news was founded or unfounded, its announcement created quite the backlash against the company. This is a good reminder for us that even the largest companies in the world—companies like Apple, Amazon, and Facebook—encounter the same problems with transparency as all other business owners.
In order to make an impact, we’ve got to have a positive reputation. And we can’t have a positive reputation without trust. The trust of your clients, employees, shareholders, and investors is vital to the sustainability of your business. So how then is trust established? Simply put: Trust is built through honesty and transparency throughout the business.
When this trust is breached, whether through rumor or factual events, it gets tricky. Once our trustworthiness is questioned, it is extremely hard to restore. You lose the “benefit of the doubt” that is woven into trusted relationships. Once you pull that thread, everything starts to unravel. Your employees lose their loyalty. Your customers lose their confidence. And your stakeholders start looking at their dealings with your firm in a more critical way.
There are still millions that believe the iPhone is, hands-down, the best phone ever produced. Even so, if Apple customers start thinking the company is trying to “get one over on them,” they’re going to start taking a second look at that Samsung next door.
I have always believed that personal transparency and transparency in business are both paramount to success. This holds true across the board, with employees, customers, and stakeholders as well as families, friends, and neighbors. Good news and bad news must be shared honestly. We must take full responsibility and offer authentic and unambiguous apologies when that’s what is necessary.
This type of communication is the number one practice that fosters trust. If a rumor surfaces, your customers will give you the benefit of the doubt. They will stick with you because you are a trusted partner. As a model of ethical and virtuous conduct, you will be building a solid reputation and goodwill, and this will sustain your business throughout life’s ups and down. Perhaps most importantly, you will feel good about what you do. And who could argue with the rewards of that?