Transparency and Trust Go Hand-in-Hand

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Information is cheap these days, with so much of it being a couple words and a click away. As the internet age has worked its way into nearly every facet of our lives, customers have placed greater value on the transparency of organizations.

Once per quarter, my CUSO sends a financial newsletter to our stockholder credit unions (which also happens to be made available to the public online). Each copy of the newsletter follows a similar format, detailing the financial performance of the CUSO for the most recent quarter and the business year. The document is also used to highlight upcoming events and the latest resources available from our site. But one of the largest sections of the financial newsletter is devoted to messages from the CEO and/or our board chair.

In their respective articles, those leaders offer insight on the current state of the CUSO, our clients, and the financial industry at large. These articles are not a simple reiteration of the financial figures detailed on the inside pages, they grant the execs the opportunity to bring their own voices forward, and to share their opinions and experience with our network. The tone of these articles is akin to a fireside chat—there is no dancing around issues that they feel are worth diving into, which can include a celebration of the CUSO’s achievements, shared optimism for upcoming projects, even bringing attention to potential challenges that lie ahead.

Why include candid components like these into our quarterly financials? If a business is willing to be open about their goals and values, customers are more likely to place their faith in them—not just when a company is celebrating its achievements but when one is willing to admit missteps or shortcomings as well. In fact, a 2019 study by Edelman found that 81% of customers said they need to trust a brand in order to buy from them.

Transparency isn’t just about attracting business from new clients, it is also important for continuing ongoing relationships and weathering difficult scenarios. If you continue open communications with customers, they will be more likely to continue working with you, even through setbacks, and will be more willing to listen to your plans for the future. (Forbes, Why You Should Be Radically Transparent With Your Customers)

What are some core values that your financial institution would really like to drive home to your community? What goals are you excited to share with your members? Have you expressed these in your most recent communications and marketing materials? If you have shared these, have they been communicated with a more personal and genuine voice? Maybe a more important question to ask yourself is, why haven’t you?

These questions can apply to your internal staff as well—publishing employee-focused newsletters and emails or hosting regular meetings with various teams and departments can help avoid rumormongering or clear up potential instances of confusion. As Mike Kappel, CEO of Patriot Software, LLC, suggests, “Chances are, your employees will find things out through the rumor mill, so you might as well beat them to the punch and keep their trust.”

In 2021, there are more channels for your credit union to engage with members than ever before. You could publish a newsletter or you could bring the voices of your leadership and staff to your social media channels, give them the spotlight in videos or offer them the chance to publish articles to your blog. Even the most proactive organizations could benefit from reviewing their current communications to find new opportunities to connect with customers and give them a closer look at the people behind the products and services they’re familiar with.

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