Updated: Jun 1
Why should you care about sustainability? It is because your customers and prospects care about it. That’s right. They care about doing the right thing for people and the environment. In fact, a joint study by McKinsey and NielsenIQ done in 2020 found that 78 percent of US consumers said that a sustainable lifestyle is important to them. To validate the results of their consumer sentiment survey, McKinsey and NielsenIQ did a follow up study to quantify the actual benefit to companies that embrace sustainability. The study found that products making ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) claims realized a 28 percent cumulative sales growth over the previous 5 year period versus 20 percent for products that did not make this claim.
Of course, continued sales growth is dependent upon the authenticity of these claims. “Greenwashing”, or the dissemination of misleading or deceptive claims to present a false image of an environmentally friendly product is a great way to lose sales growth and customers.
Here are 5 good reasons for your company to implement a sustainability initiative according to the World Economic Forum.
1. Investor demand
2. Consumer demand
3. Regulatory demands
4. Attracting talent
5. Increased Productivity
Research by Gartner found that 85% of investors considered environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues when making investments, and 91% of banks monitor the ESG performance of their investments.
73% of Gen-Z consumers say they are willing to spend more on sustainable products. With the increasing numbers of Gen-Z and millennial consumers, a strategy that includes sustainability becomes more important.
As more countries sign up for net zero carbon emission goals by 2050, it becomes increasingly important to have a corporate ESG strategy to continue to do business in these countries. Some of these countries, including Sweden and Germany, have legally binding requirements to achieve their net zero goals. Getting ahead of the curve by producing sustainable products will help your company stay in compliance with each country’s regulatory body.
A Deloitte study found that 49% of Gen-Zers and 44% of Millennials made career decisions based upon personal ethics. Another survey found that 51% of graduating business students in the U.S. would take less pay to work for a company that is environmentally friendly.
Including sustainability as a core principle in your company, employees will be more motivated to perform better. According to McKinsey and Company, sustainability can reduce costs and affect operating profitability by up to 60%.
So, what constitutes business sustainability?
There are three core principles:
1. Social Equity
2. Economic Viability
3. Environmental Protection
The United Way defines social equity as, “impartiality, fairness, and justice for all people in social policy. Social equity considers systemic inequalities to ensure everyone in a community has access to the same opportunities and outcomes. Equity of all kinds acknowledges that inequalities exist and works to eliminate them.”
A sustainability initiative is economically viable if its economic benefits exceed its economic costs, when applied to society as a whole.
To be an environmentally aware business, one needs to consider more than just profits. Consideration is paid to the impact on society and to the planet. Being sustainable means contributing to the well-being and longevity of the business you operate within, and thereby helping to create an environment where both your business and our planet can thrive.
What is customer service’s role in delivering sustainable products and services to your customers? Here are 5 ideas.
Education and Awareness: Customer service can play a crucial role in educating customers about the company's sustainability efforts, initiatives, and policies. They can provide information about environmentally friendly products, services, and practices, as well as tips on how customers can reduce their environmental impact.
Promoting Sustainable Products and Services: Customer service can actively promote and recommend sustainable products or services to customers. They can highlight features such as energy efficiency, recyclability, or reduced environmental impact. By steering customers towards sustainable choices, they can help drive demand for environmentally friendly offerings.
Feedback and Suggestions: Customer service is a direct channel for customers to provide feedback, suggestions, and concerns. By actively seeking customer input, customer service can collect valuable insights on sustainability-related issues and ideas for improvement. This feedback can be relayed to other departments within the company to drive positive change and further enhance sustainability initiatives.
Waste Reduction and Recycling: Customer service can assist customers with information on proper waste disposal and recycling methods for products. They can provide guidance on recycling programs, take-back initiatives, or provide resources for responsible disposal. By promoting recycling and waste reduction, customer service contributes to minimizing the environmental impact of products and packaging.
Collaboration with Other Departments: Customer service can collaborate with other departments, such as product development, marketing, or operations, to ensure that sustainability initiatives are effectively communicated and implemented. They can share customer insights, feedback, and suggestions with relevant teams to drive continuous improvement in sustainability practices.
By integrating sustainability into your customer service practices, businesses can enhance their reputation, build customer loyalty, and contribute to a more sustainable future. In increasing numbers, customers are aware that sustainability is a direction that businesses must embrace. They know that it is the right thing to do.
With the destruction to communities caused by storms, flooding, wildfires and droughts, much of it brought on by climate change, consumers are looking to suppliers to provide products that are ecofriendly and contribute to a sustainable lifestyle that helps to protect our planet. The people who suffer the most from unsustainable consumption are the poor and disadvantaged. They are the ones hurt the most by the disruption and devastation that a changing climate brings.
Business has a significant role in mitigating climate change as well as supporting causes that combat social injustice. We cannot rely solely on government for solutions. The market sector and not the government sector has the most power to make impactful climate and social change. Business is the most powerful entity within the market sector. Business has the global reach, resources, logistical prowess, and distribution channels to create meaningful change that can positively impact the lives of everyday people. To take a leadership role in ESG, business must evolve from enterprise integration to market transformation. From incremental to transformational. Rather than responding to market shifts to be more competitive, business should enable market transformation, creating market shifts that lead to new forms of business sustainability.
"Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us."
- President Theodore Roosevelt
To learn more about how to deliver exceptional customer service experiences that drive customer satisfaction, loyalty, revenue and profit, please visit Bass Harbor Group’s website at www.bassharborgroup.com.
Patrick Sandefur is the Founder and Managing Director of Bass Harbor Group / Customer Experience Solutions. His 30+ year career in Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, Product Management and Business Development has given him a unique perspective of what customers want and expect when interacting with a brand.
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