Over the past decade, my professional journey has inserted me into the worlds of technology, hospitality, retail, and now back again to technology. Each of the companies I’ve worked with in these industries has had its own unique challenges. But they have all had one challenge in common: they all want to “own” their respective markets and, more importantly, to build lifetime relationships with their target audience of consumers.
It begs the question: If every company in each industry is competing for the same customers, what is it that helps one company rise to the top? I would argue that that one thing is transparency, something that seems to be in short supply these days.
Look what the public has had to deal with in the past six months alone.
We’ve witnessed the upheaval of the auto industry due to false information about airbag safety and diesel emissions. Consumers are expressing concern about how free of toxins our seafood really is. Mis-manufacturing and price gouging of pharmaceuticals is perpetuating the scarcity of much-needed daily medications. And in the United States, the scandal of lead-tainted public water supplies in Flint, Michigan has pitted private and public sectors against one another—and consumers against them both.
At some point you have to ask: Shouldn’t we as a society be able to trust the information we receive—that this information will be presented with complete truth? As these incidents show, expecting truth and transparency may be expecting too much.
The word “transparency” has powerful connotations. It suggests that when we compare the information we receive with the information’s source, there should be no discrepancy, no sign of fudging or filtering. But today, consumers are discovering that the meaning of “transparency” is often as vague as that of “organically grown” or “contains no GMOs.” They are discovering that some of the same companies that want to make them “customers for life” don’t always feel the need to be completely honest with them. They don’t know if they can trust what the company tells them about where their products come from, how they are produced, or what they’re made of.
The path to real transparency begins with each of us taking on the responsibility of questioning what we are told. Consumers can no longer remain passive, never questioning the integrity of the source. Whether we’re talking about product information, company or industry statements about the quality of our foods and medicines, or assurances about the fundamental safety of our food and water, consumers need to demand full transparency.
Advancements in technology over the past ten years have enabled us to find and stay connected in real time with trusted sources of information. It is from these self-developed trusted networks we should be able to ask “Is it real?” and “Is it safe?” with some level of confidence that what we are told is true. And it is these same networks that we must hold accountable when the information they give us is not true—or not true enough.
Through a combination of technology, trusted information sources, and public accountability, we can attain information transparency. But we must realize that truth and transparency are not necessarily freely given. Consumers must demand them from the same public and private organizations that want to win our loyalty.
About Greg Seremetis
Greg Seremetis serves as Chief Marketing Officer at Frequentz, leading the company’s worldwide brand expansion efforts to further its marketplace awareness, customer relationships, and innovative marketplace technology offerings. Mr. Seremetis has an extensive 30-year global marketing communications background creating new marquee brands while delivering unique brand experiences via digital technology and mobile, customer relationship management, and integrating major marketing initiatives across several brand communication channels including multimedia and corporate communications. Prior to joining Frequentz, he held key senior level leadership roles at Petco, Hilton Worldwide, and Gateway Computers. Mr. Seremetis participates in several community organizations to further social consciousness on the national, regional, and local fronts.