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Fairness and transparency. Does your business model make customers love you?

by StayRelevant
23rd March 2019

A fair and transparent business model goes a long way. It is the fundamental foundation to maintain and, in many cases recover, the confidence and respect of both existing and potential customers.

We know expectations change often. We also know the people aspect of every business relationship is key, including B2B environments. Or as some people would say, especially in B2B. What do people value in a business model? If I have to summarise it in one word it would be fairness.

History is full of episodes when communities, countries, or groups raised from oppression and humiliation to revolt and fight for a better future. The perception of unfairness was a powerful trigger for action. It generated incredible energy and, eventually, it created results that changed the status quo, or made civilisations collapse.

The conclusion of such review is clear. Humans resent unfairness, captivity and lack of transparency and, of course, so do customers.

Should a society live on penalties or added value? Should we accept captivity, or fight for freedom of choice and expression? Should we tolerate lies, corruption and manipulation, or should we demand fairness and transparency? These questions remain entirely relevant today in the wake of fundamental challenges affecting humankind.

VUCA times (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) are exposing poor business practices that affect both trust and the emotional engagement an organisation requires to attract and maintain customers.

The digital world demands that we ask ourselves the same questions. The modern customer has liquid expectations because she knows it is technically possible to satisfy these claims and it is right to demand them. Many models still include aspects that collide right on with customer and human values such as transparency, fairness, or freedom of choice.

A business model needs to be dynamic to remain relevant. What was common practice yesterday is not necessarily acceptable today. Does your company use a “charge them until they complain” model, or is it more a “treat your customers’ money as if it was your own”? The former creates resentment, the latter builds loyalty, respect and admiration.

Society demands more and more transparency and fairness. Customers are asking companies to drop unjustifiable penalties, hidden costs, minimum subscription periods. They want companies to stop inappropriate activity in their platforms such as fake product trading, or unethical use of data. They want to know a company´s real environmental impact, or how and based on what their algorithm filters out candidates or penalises customers.

Established companies fear disruption; new ones live on it. Every day, a group of entrepreneurs is looking at the weakness of any model in any industry. Their opportunity lies in challenging the weakness of your model and offering customers a better choice. The reason an established company is concerned about disruption is that nobody likes to be caught off guard, or on the wrong foot.

The challenge is not so much identifying our weaknesses, but doing something about it without damaging growth plans, disappointing market analysts, or risking the profit target. We need to change our model and ensure it is still viable. Inaction drives disruption. When we chose to do nothing, we get what we deserve.

We can talk, make noise and even brag about our openness, purpose and values. However, our actions will always speak louder than our words.

This is the world we live in. There is a big opportunity for making customers fall in love with what we do. It requires fast transformation to lower cost structures and to innovate. We need processes, digital tools, new technology and constant learning. Above all, we need an open culture that attracts customers, partners and talent. It is all about being fit, being fast and being open.

Are all these elements included in our transformation plan? Are all our employees aware of it? Are our key partners and customers informed and involved? Expectations will continue to change and our model will require some more tuning and updating. Being proactive in understanding those changes and preparing our processes, resources and alliances in the ecosystem is the only way to prepare for it and be ready. It will be done by you, or it will be done to you.

Stay Relevant helps organisations transform to be close and important to customers.

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