Jan 042012
 
transparency in policies and behaviour matters online

The US Federal Reserve has announced they will release more details from the information they use on determining official interest rates. On the same day the social networking site Twitter is embarrassed when its opaque verified account policy fails.

Being open and honest is the key component in trust and in turn trust is the bedrock of society. If you can’t trust your neighbour, the local cop or the grocer at the shops then society quickly starts breaking down.

Many big businesses, particularly those in markets where they are one of a small group of incumbents get away with abusing your trust; they tell an illegal surcharge can’t be waived because “that’s their policy, you can’t change an account because of the “terms and conditions” and that the call centre’s operators name is Janet even though it’s Rajiv and you know that when you call back asking for “Janet” you’ll be told”there’s 35 Janets working in the department right now”.

All of this we’ve come to expect from big bureaucratic organisations like the phone company, the bank and the tax office. The interesting thing is how many new businesses that are adopting this anti-customer model of operating.

Rules and policies are fine – as long as everyone knows them, they aren’t too onerous and they are applied fairly and consistently.

The challenge for all businesses – particularly those taking on incumbents – is they have to show they are more trustworthy than the existing operators. If you can’t show that, then maybe it’s time to think about how you operate.

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