Like authenticity, transparency is one of those terms that is so important and should be highly valued in any organisation– yet it ironically is so difficult to grasp due to its often-esoteric nature and broad interpretation. Everyone ‘wants’ transparency, but it’s not all that easy to achieve, and there isn’t necessarily a clear-cut path to get there. (Not to mention that because it is a buzzword in most companies, it inevitably causes an internal groan and your eyes to glaze over at the phrase). And all of this is before mentioning the ANA media transparency report released last year calling out the unethical practices of media agencies. But do not fear– we are here to redeem transparency, and hopefully provide insight on how to implement it in daily life.
So, what does practical transparency look like on a day to day basis in an agency?
At Like, transparency is more than a word on a website or document. It plays out in the day-to-day interactions with our clients. It is the time sheets we share, the weekly (or daily) phone calls, and the meetings we hold, both internally and externally. Transparency necessitates accountability, and accountability leads to excellence. Here are the top four ways that we implement transparency in our work and delivering on a project:
Communication: organised, documented, regular.
Nobody wants 100 emails a month going back and forth detailing simple issues. So from the beginning, we agree on a line of communication and feedback between us and clients with the key focus on transparency of our progress through live documents, and a few key emails and calls outside of our weekly capped call. We also set up a client group email address that cc’s in the whole team to keep staff ‘in the loop’.
However, it is important to be immediately there for our clients if something goes wrong, which means as much back and forth communication as necessary (minute-to-minute if needed), to keep them informed and encouraged. We want to make their lives easier, and if there is a bug in the site, we give them our updates so they can keep their customers fully informed as well. This also means we tell them when there is a change to delivery times, when delays happen, or are going to happen, so they can plan and strategise things on their end.
What business doesn’t want to know their sales, weekly and monthly performance? As minimum we provide a monthly report and adhoc reports (all defined and discussed within the kick-off meeting). Alongside this, a workshop to find out what and who within the client’s organisation will require regular reports is planned in.
We bring in clients to the office so that they can observe first-hand what a developer has to do when a request is made. That way when they ask for what might be perceived to be a minor change to a site, they see all the steps involved. This exposure helps the client to understand and value the ‘behind the screens’ work that goes into a project.
A significant part of a smooth and frictionless customer experience happens because of maintenance– behind the scenes, regular, proactive updates and fixes. Thus we have ‘Maintenance Tuesdays’ a specifically designated time for upkeep. The strategy is to be proactive, and not be caught off guard by a digital hiccup.
We don’t ever want to show a finished product to a client without ensuring their comprehensive understanding of the work, the various steps, rough drafts, and processes that went into it. We want them to value more than the shiny product at the end, and to do that they need to be as invested in the creation of it as we are. That, my friends, is transparency.