MarketingSherpa Video Archive

Customer Centricity: How to use transparency to generate customer trust

Michael Norton, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School

Marketers put a lot of effort into working for our customers, and then work even harder to make it look easy. Seamless, even.

According to Michael Norton, however, that approach is flawed.

"[People] actually really seem to like seeing work being done on our behalf," Michael Norton, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School, said when speaking at MarketingSherpa MarketingExperiments Web Optimization Summit 2014.

"Showing the labor, the transparency of what you’re doing, is so interesting to consumers that, not only do they like waiting, but sometimes they like waiting more than they like getting it right away," Norton said. "Showing the work that you’re doing can make people infer, accurately, often, that you’re doing more than they thought."

In this video, Norton talks about how he took the idea that work transparency on the company’s end makes the end result more valuable to the customer and applied it to an online environment.

If online companies are able to find a way to show their work to customers, would customers appreciate the company more?

When it comes to demonstrating work transparency, Norton highlighted the importance of asking four questions:
  • What will you show?

  • How will you show it?

  • How will you measure success?

  • Compared to what?

"These four steps, when we work with companies, these are the things that can get all the work that you are doing from totally underappreciated, totally undervalued, to getting customers to see you as more human, treat the website or the service as more human and ultimately improve their perceptions," Norton said.

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