Micah wrote a great post yesterday about the transparent techniques we employ at Lijit. I loved his post because it's a facet of our company that I take pride in. We never sat down and decided this is how we were going to do things. It's simply something that happened as a result of who we are as individuals within the company.
This issue is something that everyone deals with at some point or another in their online activities. How much do I share and how honest do I really have to be? And the questions don't get any easier if you work for a company that is espousing transparency.
A perfect example of this occurred yesterday when Typepad went down for a bit. I noticed it when I was cruising around, doing some research for blogging outreaches. Then, I saw someone tweet about the problems they were having with Typepad. (This, for me, is when you know that an issue has become critical. Turns out there were about a dozen mentions on Twitter yesterday of Typepad's troubles...)
How to deal with something like this? Typepad did exactly what they should have done. They talked to their users. Early yesterday evening, I received an email from the CEO of Typepad, apologizing for the problems.
"We know you rely on us to provide superior service and performance, and this morning we let you down. Downtime on your blog is obviously frustrating, both for you and for us, and we are very sorry. I'm writing to assure you that this is unacceptable to us and explain some of the background for the disruption."
He then goes on to explain why the service went down and what new features they were working on. Features that users like me asked for back in January, that take time to implement and that most definitely necessitate some downtime. To finish the email, Typepad's CEO gave everyone his email address and asked for comments, questions and concerns.
That, my friends, is transparency. I've had problems with Typepad before (see...even more transparency!) but the fact that the CEO addressed the problem simply and honestly earned him many points in my book. And that's what it's really all about. Keeping your users informed, addressing their issues and going the extra mile to win them over. It doesn't sound like rocket science but actually pulling it off can feel just as hard.