Contributed June 29, 2021 by Cheryl Viola, Executive Director, MBA
All businesses are in the transactional industry. Everyone has goods or services in which they are transacting. Practicing honesty is one of the most effective ways to distinguish yourself in any industry.
When consumers come to you with a problem our first instinct is to help everyone. Honesty in transactions is informing customers on what you can and cannot do to help them solve their problems.
In the video clip, Simon Sinek discusses his small marketing firm and how he had a potential client come to him with a problem. He was honest and told them what areas he excelled at, what areas he was okay at, and which areas he wasn’t very good at, then he went to the next step and agreed to partner with another company so that their needs were met. The potential customer was so impressed with the honesty and forthrightness of Simon’s strengths and weaknesses that they become a loyal client and shared his experience with others. Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful tool we have. It is okay to tell a customer that you can’t accommodate because you don’t have the skills, then directing them to the right person or company will be remembered forever.
We all need our problem solved and we value when people are honest and help direct us to the solution without sending us on a wild goose chase or trying to fix the problem when they don’t know how to do it. Recently a friend shared their story about car troubles they had. They took their vehicle to a mechanic. The mechanic kept the vehicle for much longer than they said, and didn’t know what the problem was. The customer paid the bill and the vehicle broke down again. Again, they took it to the same mechanic and instructed the mechanic on what they thought the problem was. The result was the customer left the shop frustrated, took the vehicle to another mechanic where the problem was diagnosed and fixed. This friend has shared their experience with others and you can bet they will not recommend the mechanic to others or go back themselves.
Authenticity pays dividends. When you as a consumer experience, honesty in a company you become their champion and will refer others to them. Being honest about what we can and cannot do, customers will want to do business with us more when we refer them to others who have strengths where your weaknesses are.
Sinek said, “If you care about building relationships – then build relationships.” What builds relationships is an honest broker. When we meet honest people all we want to do is help them build their business.
Our core values need to represent who we are and not who we want to be. Our core values either in business or in our personal lives need to embody the day-to-day reality of who we are and how we do business. I believe that needs to be to uphold honesty and integrity above all else. Business culture and office dynamics change all the time, the one thing that should never change is integrity and honesty.
We want to be remembered as having integrity and honesty. We want and need people to have faith and trust in us. If we say we will do something, then we do it. When consumers come to a business with a problem all they want is it to be resolved, the rest is irrelevant.
Being honest does not mean that we are perfect. As Simon Sinek explained in the video, people place greater value on honesty even when it means that we acknowledge where our weaknesses are. When we can help connect people to others who are better equipped to solve their problems, we create a loyal customer for life.
The ways to stand out in your industry:
1. Keep your Word & Commitments
2. Transparency is essential.
In today’s economy, consumers are less trusting than at any other time. Transparency lets your customers know that you are not hiding something from them.
3. Answer questions.
Be willing to answer questions, on the phone, in person, and on social media. One business owner told me that they respond to every social media comment on all their platforms. That personal touch to take the time to respond builds customer loyalty. Train your employees to be honest about their skills and if they do not know the answer, teach them to say to the customer “I don’t know, but let me find out”, be sure they follow up with the answer. This transparency builds trust and loyalty.
4. Take Responsibility
Everyone makes mistakes, admit to them, and do not be afraid to say “I am sorry, I got that wrong.” Words can be powerful, but only if they are backed up with action.
5. Respect others.
Respect employees, co-workers, and customers.
I have shared the story when a board member told me about my character flaws. They told me my flaws were: integrity, honesty, hardworking and dedication. Of course, these are not flaws and the person was highlighting strengths. These character strengths should exude from us in all that we do, personally and professionally. This is how we stand out in our industries.