We, customers and companies alike, need to trust the people with whom we do business. Customers expect honest, straightforward interactions where their voices are heard. Companies work to inspire brand loyalty and deliver satisfaction while trying to understand their customers better. It is evident that we all have a crucial stake—and responsibility—in transforming the adversarial tone that too often dominates the customer experience.

Along with open, authentic communication comes the mutual responsibility to make it work. As each of us is both a customer and an employee, we share in the rewards and challenges of candor.

By adopting these five practical measures, we can together realize a fundamental shift in our business relationships:


For Companies

  • Be Human

    Use a respectful, conversational voice, avoid scripts and never use corporate doublespeak.
  • Be Personal

    Encourage staff to use their real names and use a personal touch.
  • Be Accountable

    Make it easy to contact you and cultivate a public dialogue with customers to demonstrate your accountability.
  • Be Ready

    Anticipate that problems will occur and set clear, public expectations in advance for how you will address (and redress) issues.
  • Be Earnest

    Demonstrate your good intentions by speaking plainly, earnestly and candidly with customers about problems that arise.

For Customers

  • Be Understanding

    Show the respect and kindness to people inside the company that you'd like shown to you.
  • Be Yourself

    Use a consistent identity and foster a long-term reputation with the company.
  • Be Helpful

    Recognize that problems will occur and give companies the information and time required to competently address issues.
  • Be Fair

    Share issues directly, or in a community where the company has an opportunity to respond, so it can work with you to solve problems.
  • Be Open

    Give companies the benefit of the doubt and be open to what they have to say.