Let's start where it all began ...
Upon a second call, another efficient operator mentioned a different price (100 € higher). He talked me through the reasons of the initial confusion, and even apologised. Fair enough.
Then the technicians came, and successfully set up the system ... but when I received my invoice for the service I found another extra 125 €, charged for "materials" (which were never mentioned as potential additional costs).
All in all, the final price was three times higher than expected.
My wallet wasn't happy, but somebody had it worse.
It's all about trust
With the plethora of service providers out there, trust is a key element in the overall buying process, i.e. your prospects need to trust you are "the one" before they convert into customers.
Trust, however, is built upon more than your product's hard factors (i.e. quantifiable aspects such as performance characteristics or price).
If you stop being fair and upfront with your customers, they will walk away for good.
That's why transparency in business is key, regardless of what industries you serve.
The bad experience with my sat TV provider makes it challenging for me to trust them as a company.
I indeed enjoy their product per se, but their lack of clarity in communications makes me doubtful about their business ethics at large.
As a result, I have started considering other options.
In a freelance setting, the role of transparency in building trust is even more critical.
Your business practices are inextricably connected to your value as a person, and to the value of your product or service. If you hide information, or go foggy about your customer's questions, you're hurting your business and your reputation at once.
Remember that business transparency is more than clear pricing. It's also
- being honest about what you can or can't do;
- being upfront about your terms and conditions;
- sharing information about project steps and working times.
Many companies consider their collaboration with freelancers a strategic asset, and value honest communications and transparent business practices. Also, sharing information on how you work reinforces the customer's feeling of being an active part of a business relationship, and encourages transparency on the customer's side as well.
Transparency in business is a key intangible asset.
On the freelancer's side, it supports the nurturing of solid partnerships and customer satisfaction.
In the customer's eyes, it is a parameter that tells more about the service provider's overall ethics, honesty, and professionalism.
What are the key areas for improvement in your own freelancing context?
Can you think of tips & hints to improve transparency in a freelancer's daily practice?