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Trust, Goodwill & Confidence

Find out how you can generate loyalty by building trust, goodwill and confidence. Learn why it is advantageous to garner public trust and bank goodwill in advance of an unforeseen crisis. Discover crisis management techniques that help rebuild consumer confidence.

Trust and confidence start with open, honest and transparent business dealings. Making sincere efforts to satisfy all stakeholder needs and concerns can go a long way toward building trust and confidence. So too can integrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) and social ethics into daily practice.

Consider How All Business Decisions Can Affect Consumer Trust

Shaping brand image and gaining consumer confidence starts within the company’s sphere of influence and control. Philanthropy begins internally with the treatment of employees and coworkers. After internal concerns are satisfied, consider the broader needs and desires of other corporate stakeholders. These concerns extend beyond shareholders and employees to customers and suppliers. And they expand outward to the environment and surrounding community impacted by your business.

When considering social and environmental concerns, assess the costs and benefits to your business and to society. Look at the combined impact. For example, when sourcing overseas, consider not only the cost of raw materials, production, labor and transportation, but also thepotential social and environmental harm. Factories that exploit child laborand expose workers to environmental hazards and unsafe work conditionsmay pose serious public relations disasters for brands. If social conscience alone does not prevent your company from employing a factory like this, then the potential financial damage to your brand’s image from adverse publicity should provide added incentive to do the right thing. Producing quality products, in safe work environments, using fair labor standards may cost a little more but it could save in the long run.

Contribute to Business, Societal and Environmental Welfare

There are a variety of ways a business can positively impact customers, community and society. They include environmental stewardship, economic development, community investments, strategic philanthropy, cause marketing, event sponsorships and advocacy. Creating jobs, providing training, and paying corporate taxes arealso means of contributing to the good of society.

Many companies are going a step further. A growing number of global businesses are demonstrating corporate social responsibility by joining “1% for the Planet”. Patagonia’s founder, Evan Chouinard, initiated this voluntary “earth tax” out of concern for the environment. Member companies contribute one percent of annual sales revenue directly to their desired environmental charity.The member company pays a small membership fee to the nonprofit organization. This practice is designed to help solve environmental crises, drive positive change, develop a network of likeminded people, foster new business relationships, and gain recognition for responsible companies. According to the organization’s website, “1% for the Planet exists to build and support an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthier planet.”

There are other ways companies can contribute to the betterment of society that garner trust, goodwill and confidence. At the end of this article, you will find examples of ethical and socially responsible business practices.

Regain Trust Through Crisis Management

It’s smart business practice to accumulate corporate goodwill in advance of a crisis. In crisis management situations, it is better to have the public on your side. Companies that have earned public trust are probably going to receive the benefit of the doubt when something bad happens. The business is more likely to be given an opportunity to correct mistakes when faced with a crisis management situation.

Don’t let the negative aspects of a crisis overshadow positive contributions made by your business. Take the necessary measures to build goodwill and avoid causing harm. When unintentional harm occurs, take immediate action to resolve concerns amicably and with open and honest communication.

To regain consumer confidence and public trust after an unforeseen crisis, own up to mistakes made by your business. Unless specifically advised against doing so by legal counsel, a public apology and sincere remorse can go a long way toward healing pain caused by a crisis. Take the necessary steps to rectify the situation. Compensate victims fairly for any incurred harm. Acting promptly and responsibly with one voice may ward off potential lawsuits. The consequences of not doing so could easily outweigh the cost of facing mistakes head on. Lost consumer confidence and public trust will directly and adversely affect the bottom line. Left unresolved, in all likelihood customers will shift their purchases to more responsive companies.

Use every opportunity to amass goodwill in advance of a crisis. Increase awareness of your business’s social ethics, environmental concerns, and philanthropic deeds. Keep stakeholders informed, particularly coworkers, shareholders and the media. Openness and transparency are key to establishing trusting relationships. Let customers, suppliers, investors and the public know they are dealing with a company that acts responsibly.

Maintain Consumer Confidence

External deeds may not be enough to maintain consumer confidence or earn public trust. Make a commitment to corporate social responsibility and demonstrate care and concern throughout every aspect of your business dealings. Build social ethics into corporate policies and practices. Communicate the company’s involvement through clear communication. Present honest assessments and reporting of sustainable business practices. Social ethics combined with CSR and philanthropic activities can engender trust, goodwill and confidence.


Ideas for Integrating CSR into Business Practice

  1. Contribute to sustainable development by producing quality goods and services using ethical business practices.
  2. Support green development and local sourcing where possible.
  3. Implement fair labor standards and trade practices.
  4. Provide a safe work environment and universal access for people with disabilities.
  5. More efficient use of natural resources and reduction in the corporate environmental footprint to minimize harm to the earth.
  6. Conserve resources, create jobs and provide workforce skill training.
  7. Give paid time off to encourage employee volunteerism.
  8. Offer flextime to give workers leeway in helping with child and eldercare.
  9. Where possible, allow selected staff the option to telecommute to save fuel and reduce emissions.
  10. Use video and teleconferencing to help cut back on travel expenses and reduce fuel consumption.
  11. Provide supplemental benefits for employee fitness and childcare services.
  12. Offer scholarships to advance training and education for employees and their families.
  13. Offer internship programs to provide hands-on work experience.
  14. When cost-effective, subsidize workforce housing and cafeterias.
  15. Donate to worthy causes that support brand initiatives and corporate values.
  16. Establish a charitable gifting program to match owner and employee philanthropic contributions. Designate charities aligned with corporate values and concerns.
  17. Provide community partners access to additional knowledge and resources to help extend their capabilities.
  18. Establish strategic alliances with likeminded individuals and businesses that support similar social and environmental concerns.

 

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  © 2012 Anne Wall, All Rights Reserved.

 

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