Authenticity is a key element of being transparent. In today’s photoshopped, social media-driven society, people crave authenticity. When professionals show that they are real, clients connect with the mission of the brand and become loyal supporters. Applying action to valid feedback makes the professional, their team, and their brand better.
THE TRUST BAROMETER
Edelman, a public relations firm, releases an annual, global survey on trust that provides a snapshot for how people view governments, leaders, institutions, and other entities. In the 2015 Trust Barometer, one of the most significant takeaways is the increasingly important role that employees play in building trust.1
Over the past five years, the barometer has shown a steady increase in the credibility of regular employees. In 2009, 47 percent of the public believed that information about a company was credible coming from “a person just like you.” In 2015, that number stood at 62 percent. The survey also showed that treating employees well is one of the most important things a company can do to build trust, with 58 percent of the public viewing this as essential to a company’s credibility.
Research shows that owners and C-level executives are at a disadvantage of being the public face of the company’s community relations. The public looks at spokespeople with a great deal of skepticism. Only 43 percent believe they are credible. Even employees do not trust many C-level executives, with only 47 percent finding them credible.
Research further shows that executives and employees agree that CEOs should build trust in themselves and their companies by regularly engaging with employees about the state of the business. Other trust-building exercises include telling the truth, regardless of how unpopular and complex it is; communicating clearly and transparently; and being front and center during challenging times.
USING TECHNOLOGY TO DELIVER AUTHENTIC
More, new research shows that 76 percent of American shoppers view customer service as a “true test” of how much a brand values them.2 For skin care professionals, the customer service expectations are higher than those for many other industries because they literally touch their clients. In many ways, delivering transparent, authentic customer service is easier because of advances in technology that put coaching at the client’s fingertips.
Applications can be used as an extension of a skin care center or spa to provide personalized coaching from brand experts, in addition to logistical help, including fulfillment of items that may be out-of-stock in the store and inventory management.
A CASE STUDY IN TRANSPARENCY
Hilton Head Health is known for the lifestyle enhancements guests experience during their stay. Kelly Perron, manager of The Indigo Spa at Hilton Head Health in South Carolina, points to the transparent nature of the team in creating those experiences, “We create a supportive environment that enables guests to feel comfortable by speaking openly about their goals. Whether someone is here because they want to lose weight, improve mobility, have a healthy vacation, or simply want to feel better about themselves, we always make sure to support them and do everything in our power to help them reach that goal.”
Perron further explains how the Hilton Head Health team creates a transparent relationship from a guest’s first call. “Before our guests arrive, they are contacted by a Hilton Head Health employee who asks about their goals and helps schedule appointments. Once they are onsite, our supportive, accepting environment makes guests feel comfortable very quickly. We follow the guests’ lead, and they open up to us. We are not scripted; we just have real conversations to really learn about them and why they chose to visit Hilton
This authentic approach is working. Perron says up to 50 percent of guests coming in each week have been to the spa before. Each week, on average, 10 to 20 percent of guests extend their stay. For example, Perron once had a guest tell her that he was not leaving until he felt comfortable with leaving. He was there for 14 weeks.
How is this transparent culture created at Hilton Head Health? Perron, who has a background in guest services, talks about the hiring process. “I pay attention to why the potential employee wants to work here. If it is solely for money, I pass. If they have researched our mission and vision and are drawn in by them, I am interested. I also find it to be just as important to have a positive bedside manner as it is to be a skilled therapist. You can give me the best spa service I ever had, but if your bedside manner is not there, you will not be asked to join our team. We look for passion and experts in our staff, in order to provide authentic experiences.”
1 Edelman. (n.d.). Trust and Innovation - 2015 Trust Barometer.
2 Aspect Software
With two decades in the beauty and skin care industries, Celeste Hilling is founder, CEO, and product formulator for Skin Authority. Hilling is a respected speaker and media resource on skin care, healthy lifestyles, self-esteem, and business. Skin Authority is respected for developing pure and powerful products without the use of parabens, added fragrance, dyes, or animal testing.