We’ve all been at the crossroads before where we have to decide whether to lie or tell the truth. For instance, “Honey, does this dress make me look fat?” or “Can you have that project to me by Monday?” tell the truth and face immediate backlash or lie to appease short-term objectives and cross the preverbal bridge when you get there. I’m not married, so I will not speak on the first one, but I will attempt to shed light as to why honesty is the best policy for your business.

Honesty Builds a Credible Brand

One of the best ways to differentiate your company from competitors is by building a credible brand. Focusing on honesty can help identify you as an industry expert, generate inbound leads, minimize buyer remorse, and perpetuate trust. Sounds great right? Well, it takes some work to develop an honest brand. Here are 3 tips to do just that:

  1. Encourage honest feedback from your clients: One of the best ways to grow as a company and build credibility is to leverage strengths and minimize weakness. Encourage your clients to provide honest feedback in online reviews or internal questionnaires. Online reviews can be used as marketing collateral and negative feedbacks can be immediately addressed. With roughly 77% of online shoppers basing purchase decisions on prior reviews, this can certainly be a great tool if used correctly.
  2. Give timely and honest communication: Another great way to build credibility is to provide reliable and honest communication. Whether through social media, forums, phone/email, or even face-to-face, it is important to respond to your clients’ needs in a timely manner. Not only do you need to provide a quick response, but be sure to address their concerns entirely. If you provide honest and timely responses you will earn trust with your clients that will ensure long-term loyalty.
  3. Provide unbiased and relevant information: Use your blog or news page to share industry specific information and not just company-centric content. Leverage trending topics relevant to your users and provide a fresh/honest spin on the information.

Remember: You are the expert, take your knowledge and dispense it in a way that is easy for others to digest and retain.

Honest Expectations Lead to Customer Retention

One of the most difficult parts of client relations is setting honest expectations. From new clients to old, there is always going to be a difference between expectations and reality. Your job is to minimize this difference or set it in a way that reality exceeds expectations. Once again, this is easier said than done. Here are 3 tips to help set honest expectations.

  1. Understand your limitations: Before you can set accurate expectations you have to first understand your capabilities. Your capabilities are contingent on several variables such as time, other clients, internal bandwidth, skills, etc. Take all your variables into consideration and honestly assess what limitations you could have before you agree to any project parameters.
  2. Warn clients about potential pitfalls: Another great tool for setting honest expectations is to discuss obstacles or potential pitfalls with the client before the project begins. It is much better to address any issues before the start of the project, rather than to wait for them to come up after you begin.
  3. Under promise and over deliver: Many times companies will try to appease the client by agreeing to any parameters no matter how absurd. This is dangerous because you may be able to close the deal, but you will not retain that client once you fail to meet their expectations. Not only that, if you overpromise and do not deliver the quality or timeliness that was agreed upon you will lose credibility and face potential negative reviews.

Remember: The reason that most clients are unsatisfied is due to their expectations not being met. If you can focus your efforts on providing honest expectations then you are more likely to leave clients satisfied.

Business integrity and honesty is a powerful tool that should not be forgotten. It builds a credibility, removes barriers of expectation, and sets the foundation for a sustainable long-lasting relationship. So the next time your client asks you “Can you have this to me by yesterday?” try taking the honest approach.