Corporate social responsibility – the key to getting (and keeping) great customers

Corporate social responsibility – the key to getting (and keeping) great customers

Corporate responsibilityCompanies looking to gain an edge on their competition should stop looking at wooing potential customers with logic and statistics, and start looking at how they can give them warm fuzzies.  Cone Communications/Echo just released their annual corporate social responsibility study, and the findings provide some enlightening information for large and small brands alike.

Covering ten countries and ten thousand people, the findings of the study show that people throughout the globe care now more than ever about the actions of the companies that they do business with.  So much, in fact, that 91% of consumers reported that, given comparable pricing and quality, they would be likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause.  [pullquote]Corporate social responsibility is no longer an option — it is emphatically and indisputablya must-do.[/pullquote]On the flip side, they’re also holding companies accountable for their social actions, utilizing social media to help them get the word out.  In fact, 90% of people throughout the world reported that they would boycott a brand upon hearing of irresponsible behavior.

In addition to moral and ethical issues, consumers want to feel like they’re doing their part to help the environment.  Nine out of ten feel that they have a personal responsibility to purchase products that are not only socially, but also environmentally possible.  More than one third of global consumers feel that businesses should modify operations to better align with both social and environmental issues.

Gone are the days of consumers wanting nothing more than to see the company they invest in show a profit in their annual report.  Only 6% of consumers admitted to believing that a company’s sole job was to provide income for shareholders.

So how does this translate to everyday life, and what can you do to help show your customers that your corporate culture is socially responsible?  The answer to that question varies greatly depending on the size and type of your business, and what kind of resources you have to work with.  A great example that I recently found myself wowed by involved a local resort and a very large wild fire that is currently ravaging Colorado.  Scrolling through my Facebook news feed, I came upon this:

WOW! A big thanks to The Broadmoor!

Steve Bartolin, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Broadmoor, has advised the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance that the food that was to be served at tomorrow’s State of the City Luncheon for 500 plus member investors and community leaders will be prepared and delivered to the first responders today or tomorrow.

I personally know several amazing fire fighters and paramedics, so this gesture was especially meaningful for me.  They took a meal (and probably a very impressive one, knowing the Broadmoor’s stellar reputation for hospitality) that was going to serve a group of community leaders and financial investors, and they gave it to the men and women that are fighting to protect that community.  I don’t know about you, but the next time I have to stay in Colorado Springs, The Broadmoor will be the first place I look for a room.  Now, on top of amazing customer service, luxury accommodations, and fine dining, they can add socially responsible to their list of attributes.  Countless other businesses are selflessly opening their doors or donating supplies and services to people who have lost everything.  This is what their customers are going to remember when they’re trying to decide where to board their pets next time they leave town, or which local restaurant to grab dinner at on their next evening out.  Don’t you want to be that business?