Because We Are …
Businesses are part of the community in which they exist. And just as we like to behave responsibly with our neighbours – and would like them to do so with us – we also want to be a responsible business. As such there are relationships that exist – just like those that exist between neighbours in a local community – in the business community.
How do you examine the health of the relationship you have with your community?
One route is to start by looking at the external viewpoints of your company. You walk around and look at the issue from many points of view and contexts. What do your neighbours see? What does your community see? What do your customers see? What does the government see? The answers to those questions help you form the communal vision of your company.
What can help you improve that image? – Transparency? Absolutely. It helps you improve organizational design. It helps you form high performing teams that produce positive results every time. It helps you design and mould leadership – and in the process your business function should become more streamlined.
Because We Should…
Transparency is not mandatory but it is something that any responsible business should consider because it affects
- Business growth
- Customer satisfaction
- Product development
- Company morale
- And even local laws
A business that has public support has fewer obstacles, lower risks and greater opportunity.
If a community is a bit like an organism, then what role should a responsible business play in the daily life of that organism? To help it grow, or help protect, or heal? When you couple transparency with caring how you are perceived by the community around you, you may well gain a perspective that enlightens – which might inspire you to want to become a responsible business.
When you look at how your business impacts the local community and you make changes that improve that impact, then what you receive in return, is, in a sense, freedom. Local problems disappear. Social problems reduce. Company morale improves. Product quality increases. Customer satisfaction increases.
There are a number of ways of approaching becoming a responsible business, such as Quality Management Systems and ISO certification. It’s no surprise, then, that these measures and systems require transparency.
When we look at our businesses as they grow and develop in our business communities, we also need to challenge and question. By understanding how our business affects the local community, we can gain insight into product quality and customer satisfaction and many other streams of data that help us manage and grow our company – and be a responsible business at the same time.
The better High-Road
Measurement of customer satisfaction is a significant aspect of today’s consumerism. A key component of customer satisfaction, whether business-to-consumer or business-to-business, is the level of quality your products and services exhibit and which is experienced by your clients and customers. A product that does not fulfill those expectations, leads customers not to trust the overall quality of the product.
Consistency, too, is important. After all, if you have a good meal at a restaurant and then return only to find that the food is cold and served badly – would you use that restaurant again? Maybe, but not usually. You are much more likely to switch. Understanding how deeply customer satisfaction links you to your sales and your market is also important.
By caring about your customers and their opinions, you gain critical insights. Tightening the product quality specifications with a product line means happier customers, but that is only part of the story.
How you deal with customer complaints is another critical step in becoming a responsible business. Customers want to know that you care about them.
How you get there is a journey. It begins by caring enough to make changes.
There are, of course, companies who care only about sales and some of those companies are huge and profitable. They usually have a near monopoly or sell essential items in markets where it is difficult to change. If we aspire to be a responsible business we should not emulate them even if we find ourselves in those situations.
Socially, customers want to support the best or fairest of companies. Transparency is a tool that a responsible business uses to show customers they are fair, consistent, and importantly, human.