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As social media has developed and grown, it has quickly become a valuable asset to the customer experience. In the past, we’ve written about how construction businesses should be viewing social media's role (hint: It’s important!) and even some simple ways to create social media content that will convert. Despite the many ways it already impacts businesses, one of the key ways social media has become an asset is by providing the ability for companies to earn their customer’s trust.

As businesses continue to be troubled by data breaches, including the high-profile Facebook example, it’s more important than ever that companies foster an atmosphere of trust with their customer base. A recent survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers in Sprout Social’s Social Media and the Evolution of Transparency report had some interesting findings about a business’ transparency and the impact it has on customer loyalty.

To start, it’s important to determine what terminology consumers used to define “transparency.” The report indicated:

  • 59 percent defined transparency as being open;
  • 53 percent defined transparency as being clear; and
  • 49 percent defined transparency as being honest.

When it comes to starting the relationship with a business, 53 percent of respondents said they are likely to consider a brand that’s transparent on social media for their next purchase. Additionally, 86 percent of them thought it’s more important than ever for businesses to be transparent and, in fact, 81 percent said that businesses have a responsibility to be transparent on social media specifically. What may have been one of the most surprising conclusions from these results was that this expectation is higher for businesses than any other industry.

Loyalty was another big factor within the survey results; particularly, consumers staying loyal to a business despite a less-than-satisfactory situation or experience. For example, 89 percent were willing to give transparent brands a second chance after a bad experience and 85 percent were willing to stick with them through a crisis.

This is a crucial takeaway for businesses to help them plan and evaluate how they should respond in a potential crisis or negative scenario. Companies should be as transparent as possible in addressing the issue because its response could affect the lifelong loyalty of its customers.

An incredible example of this is manufacturer Vermeer and its complex in Pella, Iowa, that was hit by a tornado in July 2018. Their Pella-based plants employ around 2,700 people and the location happened to be hosting more than 400 dealers and customers the day of the tornado. Fortunately, only seven people were brought to the hospital with minor injuries and were released quickly.

Vermeer was highly commended for its quick response time, detailed status updates of the plant and employees—including with a Facebook post—and extraordinary ability to still meet emergency parts demands without missing a day of orders.

Its ability to pull together and communicate to the public, dealers and customers wowed many and is the epitome of how businesses can thrive despite worst-case scenarios.

On the other side of things, a lack of transparency from a company can also do severe damage to customer loyalty and profits. The report found that lack of transparency can lead 86 percent of customers to take their business elsewhere.

What does this mean for construction companies?

With such close ties between social media and customer loyalty, businesses need to build this into their marketing strategies. Having open and honest conversations on social media channels when something hasn’t been up to the company’s typical standards could be hugely valuable and save future business.

For example, if the company is having issues with some kind of internal system that may impact customers, the business needs to acknowledge it on social media and notate when it’s working to solve the problem as quickly as possible. Another way to showcase transparency is by posting a link to a customer experience survey to get people’s honest feedback. In a follow up to that social media post, businesses can post some examples of the feedback, including constructive criticism, received from the survey. Then the company can say something along the lines of how appreciated the feedback is and how it’s taking responses into strong consideration. Then aim to make the changes!

Customers will quickly see a company’s dedication to them and the desire to hold an honest relationship—one that creates loyalty for a lifetime.

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