Transparency is central to building deep, trusting relationships with your clients. But it can’t be reduced to high-contact communication alone. Alongside knowing when and how to talk to clients, your business itself needs to operate around a mantra of openness and inclusivity. Thankfully, with the help of a few well-chosen tools, this is easier than it sounds. Here are eight of the best for building transparent client relationships.
The importance of business transparency
Clients and customers want transparency. One study by SalesForce found that 95% of customers are more likely to be loyal to a company they trust, and 92% are more likely to purchase additional products and services from trusted businesses.
Although most businesses already appreciate the importance of transparency, few know how to go about offering it. Yet the solution is simple – build transparency into your operation. Here are the essential tools you need for the job:
1. Intercom - for onboarding new clients
It’s one thing getting web traffic to come to your page - it’s another to retain them and capture their attention, turning leads into valued clients. Intercom helps retain leads on your website when you’re online, and automate capturing their info when you’re not. Easily onboard clients and customers with targeted outbound engagement services for growth, and announce changes or new products to returning customers.
2. Slack - for messaging
While some people question its professionalism, the immediacy of Slack communication keeps you accountable and approachable to clients when working on projects. Its familiar chat set-up helps you offer full disclosure with a client right away without being as cumbersome or formal as email. Slack offers you the closeness of a call, while ensuring any client decisions or requests are documented. Apart from being able to plug-in apps – which is pretty useful when working with multiple software – you can also set up client/non-client groups with multiple people, which is useful when you’re switching between client chats and team chats often.
3. Timely - for invoicing
Honest accounting and invoicing is central to building client trust, and Timely’s automatic time tracking and time sheet creation sets a whole new standard for it. It tracks everything your employees work on and uses AI to create fully accurate timesheets for them. Nothing is misremembered or forgotten, and commonly overlooked billable details – like travel, overrunning meetings and late-night emails – make it to your timesheets. Ready-made dashboards help you decrypt billable vs. non-billable time, and offer granular breakdowns of how a client’s budget is spent on a daily, weekly or monthly cycle. By doing everything automatically, your teams don’t have to waste any productive energy on time tracking!
4. Hubspot - for reporting
HubSpot is great for building better teamwork relationships as well as clients. Through their reporting tool, you can build your own custom report using pie charts, bar charts, donut charts, area charts, and more, as well as create dashboards of high-level business metrics for your executives, or dive into more detailed metrics on dashboards for individual teams. Super useful if you ever need to pull a report for a client in five minutes and demonstrate a project’s real-time progress.
5. Workfront - for updates
Clients need insight into your processes to understand scopes - but it’s hard to work quickly and keep everyone on the same page. Workfront helps break down collaboration barriers by bringing both clients and teams into the same system, allowing them access to status updates and feedback. From there, your clients will have a better understanding of how you work, and your team will be able to respond to requests and allocate tasks to team members quickly.
6. Prezi - for pitching
Though many of us still us Powerpoint for pitching and presenting, some of its features are pretty dated. Prezi is a visual storytelling presentation software that offers an alternative to the restrictions of the traditional slideshow format. Instead, it gives you a limitless zoomable canvas and the ability to show connections between the big picture and finer details, featuring a map-like overview that lets users pan between topics, zoom in on details, and pull back to reveal context.
7. Box - for file sharing
Box is a great file sharing option as it allows you to create, edit and review documents with others in real-time. Using customer-managed encryption, activity logs and granular permissions – as well as mobile security – your files are safe and secure. The service itself is clear on how it complies with all-important data retention policies; something that can also be passed along to clients for extra transparency. It also enables global compliance by assisting your organization to meet regulatory and business requirements.
8. InVision - for prototyping
Building a custom design or solution for a specific client? InVision is a powerful platform for developing prototypes and designs for ongoing project phases. It allows you to import sketches, designs, or images from different sources like Photoshop and then turn them into interactive designs that can be tested and implemented on any device, all the while creating and sharing different to-do lists with a client for transparent progress.
Just remember, as a business or agency trying to sell a service, putting in the work is only half the hurdle; without meaningful tools, your valuable service can easily get lost in the ether. And it has the happy side effect of helping you improve your business’s internal efficiency! By spending less time quantifying the limitations of your products or sidestepping concerns from your clients, you save time for more productive, honest work.