Social Engagement: If It’s Good For Employees, It’s Good For Customers

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May 4, 2015

It makes me proud to work for this company, because when I travel back to my home country on holiday, I can see the school that my company (along with all the volunteers) built. I am so proud to work here.”

That was a statement from one of our clients that I spoke to as she told me about her company.

I thought of that statement the other day as I flew back home from a business trip. The Chairman/Founder of the airline Virgin Atlantic made a pitch about their charity and volunteer effort called “Change for Children.” Richard Branson delivers this message and shows the schools and others that his company and employees are all engaged.

His quest is to get his customers involved as well.

What is your customer experience?

Virgin Atlantic asks all their passengers to give the extra currency they have from the country they just visited and to donate it to their effort. If you travel as much internationally as I do, you always end of with currency that you can’t use until you visit that country again. This program allows me to give it all back at the end of my flight.

What I have always found amazing about this announcement is that it is not the usual CEO going on and on about how much they care for their customers. In the past, I always found this laughable because in the back of the plane people were pretty much pushed together like sardines in order to maximize profit.

I understand the need for profit, but when you are talking about how much you care about your customers and the customer experience, it tends to ring hollow if I am strapped in a modified version of a La-Z-Boy.

We always speak about the culture of an organization when we talk about making the connection to our employees. Well, that same connection goes for your customers.

I want a reason to shop and spend money with any business. This does not always apply, but when I find a good cause behind a business, I am there.

Organizations today should step away for a minute and talk about some of the connecting points they are making, not only with society but with their communities as well. And, not only your employees looking for this connection, but your customers are as well.

The corporate speak about “we care for our customers” rings hollow if your customers do not see any connecting point beyond that statement.

Constantly connecting

In order for the connection to remain high, people need to experience positive emotions frequently for that engagement to remain high. What better way than to talk about the good you do outside of your corporate walls?

This could involve into a major competitive differentiation between your competitors. It is not by always about trying to have the cheapest product. Your customers today are looking for more.

This is just not a feel good exercise anymore. It makes a difference to the bottom line. Today’s consumers are more conscious than ever about social issues, and sometimes they’re even willing to switch brands in favor of a company that gives back.

But forget about fanfare for the one-time cause. Companies that practice social responsibility as part of their every day business model prove that a dedication to charitable initiatives goes a long way, both for the cause and their reputation.

What is your CSR strategy?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to a business practice that involves participating in initiatives that benefit society. The question is what are you doing with those profits? CSR is becoming more mainstream as forward-thinking companies embed sustainability into the core of their business operations to create value, not only for their business, but for society as well.

In this age where the company with the top talent will win, this also gives organizations a stronger employer brand. Your CSR strategy is a big factor in where today’s top talent chooses to work.

There is a gradual shift in demographics in the workplace and the new generations is seeking out employers that are focused on a sort of triple bottom line which consist of people, planet, and revenue — in that order.

So what does all this mean? Look at it as new way to engage not only your current customer but future customers as well. Integrate your CSR efforts into the consumer’s direct experience with your brand to make sure your initiatives and your message resonate with them.

But don’t don’t shy away from your initiatives that have real meaning to consumers and society even if they are expensive, because the returns in customer loyalty are substantial enough to more than cover those costs.