I’m often asked, “When does transparency go wrong?”
The simple answer is - there’s a difference between positioning your solutions as being (as Tyra Banks calls it) “flawsome” versus positioning as though you suck. Remember, when a website is acting as the seller, a 4.2-4.5 star rating sells better than a perfect 5.0. Imperfect sells better than perfect. That same concept applies to human-to-human selling.
Here’s an example of doing it wrong:
On April 30th, I made my mortgage payment via the bank's website.
This morning I noticed the payment hadn’t cleared. I went to the bank's website, and it still showed a May 1st due date. So, I called. They informed me that I had entered my bank info incorrectly. Their site doesn’t save my payment info...meaning I have to re-enter every month, so that’s entirely possible.
I asked, “Were you going to tell me? An alert of some sort, call, smoke signal, something? I happened to notice on my own.”
The CS agent replied, “We typically call - after the grace period.”
“So, you don’t tell people their payment didn’t go through until after the due date is passed and a fee is assessed?”
Being transparent about an easily solvable policy drops you below a 4.2 - creating the impression that you suck.
Being transparent about a flaw at the cost of being great at what’s important is how you position yourself as a 4.2-4.5. IKEA tells the world that you’re going to pick and pack your furniture yourself on a rickety cart, jam it into your car, then assemble it with instructions created by a 4th grader - but that keeps costs down so you can have modern, Scandinavian-designed furniture you didn’t pay a lot for. They are the largest furniture retailer in the world for the 8th straight year.
Your products aren’t perfect. What feature or function are you sacrificing so you can be great at your core value proposition?
This is 2019 - with the proliferation of feedback on everything we do, buy and experience, your business isn't long for this world with faulty products or harmful policies.
Embrace your flaws - but don’t take it too far. If your product truly sucks, fix it! If you have a policy that's intentionally designed to capitalize on a customer's mistake, rethink that policy!