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Trust Through Transparency: Breaking Down the Walls the AEC Industry Has Built

October 14, 2019

Most likely, you are a buyer of some sort.

Whether you’re buying software, development land, or cheeseburgers – you are likely forced to make daily decisions on where you are going to spend those hard-earned dollars.

What types of considerations do you take when you are making those evaluations?  More often than not, you probably turn to some level of social proof

Social proof is that idea that if a large sum of people enjoy a product, then others will enjoy it too. This means that if a product has good reviews, then the consumer looking at it will likely join the masses and buy the product too. 

Whether that be asking a trusted friend what tool they use or reading reviews online, social proof continues to be one of the most effective “needle movers” for buyers and sellers.  

Building trust through transparency

With that said, as both a seller and a buyer, you need to be considering social proof and transparency at every stage of your journey. The first place to do that is to embrace what people are saying about your firm, good and bad. 

The AEC industry has built a wall 

The AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) industry has been known for sensitivity to negative reviews and feedback, and for good reason. The people in this industry are building the world, and with that comes a lot of room for unhappiness.

Maybe there’s a delay within the project that is due to a late shipment, lack of inventory assessment, field team members battling harsh and unexpected weather conditions, or your firm is still healing from a former leader’s decision-making reputation.

Regardless of the case, complex projects that open the door to more stakeholders also open the door for more complaints. 

Not only are there a lot of toes to step on, but the firms that power these initiatives are also powerhouses that have been around for decades.

The families that have built these firms have poured their lives into developing great environments, neighborhoods, and business places, and to hear someone is unhappy with that effort is heart wrenching. 

The bottom line is that negativity used to mean losing business, dollars, and integrity. However, things have things changed in the last decade; our society has taken to a newfound appreciation of all levels of transparency – good and bad. 

Why transparency matters  

Transparency builds trust. When working with a financial advisor, you want to know exactly why they are suggesting these verticals to put your money.

Do they get commission? Are they paid a flat fee or a cut of what you invest? Are they only partnered with certain products? How did they decide on those partnerships?

The more honest your advisor, the more likely it is you’ll hand over your dollars. That same method can be applied when evaluating any decision.

When a brand is honest and transparent on the front end, the buyer is left with less questions to establish trust. Modern buyers only want to speak with a representative of the brand when they are 57 percent of the way through their journey to decision.

That means the more you can load your resources with transparency, the quicker you can help a buyer determine if you are the right fit and reach out.  

All press is good press 

Okay, maybe a PR nightmare isn’t great press, and certainly not the level of transparency your firm should strive for. 

Related: Learn what to do in the case of a PR crisis. We always want to think it'll never happen to us, but chances are, it might. See what steps you'll need to take if you suffer a PR nightmare – and learn how to avoid the five most common PR mistakes people make in the meantime.  

Related content: How To Recover From a PR Crisis →

However, when you look at negative reviews and comments about your brand, you should challenge yourself to view these comments as data points that add depth to your service or product.

Once this becomes a habit, you may have found a new level of admiration for those unhappy customers.  Without unhappy customers, your online presence is only a façade.

The biggest brand moguls out there – Apple, Nike, YETI, and so on – have all faced unhappy customers at some point in time.

However, an informed buyer is only going to weigh those outcries and decide whether the worst-case scenario is worth the payoff.  

As an example of how negative reviews can lead to positive outcomes, let’s say that right now you’re in the market for a new project management software system. As you’re shortlisting providers that you are interested in, you’ve narrowed in on your top two choices.  

Company A has 3.5/5 stars on G2, and Company B has 5/5 stars.  

As you narrow in on those reviews, you see that Company A has 72 reviews, while Company B has 25 reviews.

You also notice the chief complaints about Company A are its lack of integrations with Sage ERP; however, you’re not on that ERP, so that doesn’t really interfere with your workflow.

Company B, on the other hand, has nothing but positive reviews, but they all fail to mention any integrations or notable features of the product. Company B’s reviews also all seem to be posted around the same time, from various members of the same organizations.  

Which company are you more likely to move forward with? 

Eighty-five percent of buyers specifically look for negative reviews when making purchasing decisions. In fact, many of these buyers cite that negative reviews add a layer of depth to a product that actually helps in the evaluation process, rather than hurt.

The truth is, your product, service, or offering will never be perfect, and it’s important to find the clients or customers whose expectations match what you provide.  

TIP: Turn this hypothetical scenario into a reality by browsing all of the project management software solutions available on G2 today! 

View the Easiest-to-Use Project Management Software →

Break down walls in order to build trust 

If your firm recently received a negative review on a project, don't panic. Use the feedback as a data point; maybe their complaint has some legitimacy and should be considered when you’re improving your processes or maybe you just were unfortunate enough to get someone using the internet on a bad day.

Regardless, if you have a reputable organization and encourage transparency between your team and your buyers, a few bad reviews will do more good than harm to your business.  

The same can be said with your internal organization. The more transparent you are with your team members, the more you will win better projects frequently and timely. Owning and understanding your data is just the beginning. Being able to use that data to inform your decisions and communication habits as a team is where the real winning happens.  

Be smart; be informed 

When AEC firms can make better informed decisions, the entire world rejoices. Whether that be greener initiatives, safety precautions, or knowing when to walk away from a bad business deal – the planet improves when those who are building our society are smarter in their efforts. 

If you’re interested in taking the first step to gaining transparency into your data and your organization, find the easiest-to-use CRM software platform for your brand's needs. 

View the Easiest-to-Use CRM Software →

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