Executives today often talk about the importance of creating an exceptional customer experience — and for good reason. Surveys show that customers who feel well-served by a company will become more loyal and ultimately spend more money. Not to mention, bad customer experiences can be expensive. One extreme example happened in 2017, when a major airline lost $1.4 billion in value overnight after one passenger’s bad experience went viral on social media.
While the growing attention to customers’ needs is an encouraging trend, executives may overlook some of the most fundamental aspects of what really drives customer satisfaction. That’s where our annual survey results can be especially helpful.
Every year, JUST Capital polls the American public to find out what they care about most when it comes to business practices today. One clear takeaway is that customers, along with the products and services companies offer them, are essential to just business. People want companies to look out for their best interest and employ ethical business practices. More specifically, they want companies to prioritize the five following actions.
1. Make Safe, Reliable Products That Do Not Harm
Americans want companies to make products that are not harmful to health, the environment, or society while also being reliable, safe, and durable.
Companies that focus on creating safer and more reliable products will benefit in several ways. Not only will they avoid costly recalls, fines, and lawsuits, but they will gain customers’ trust and loyalty.
Procter & Gamble, a product safety leader in our 2020 Rankings, has more than 700 in-house experts whose sole job it is to ensure the human and environmental safety of its products. In recent years, the company has worked to ensure the fragrance ingredients in its household cleaning and other products are safe and added detailed ingredient information to its product labels.
2. Prioritize Customer Privacy
With major data breaches making headlines daily, consumers have become sensitive to how their personal data is used, stored, and shared. One recent survey from IBM’s Institute for Business Value found that 87% of consumers think companies that store personal data should be more highly regulated.
The stakes can be high: Some high-profile brands have lost millions of customers due to privacy concerns.
Our annual survey suggests this is an opportunity: Consumers want companies to have transparent customer privacy policies, along with the assurance that their personal data will be stored securely.
Want to learn more about protecting your privacy online? Click here to find out what companies are leading when it comes to customer privacy.
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3. Price Your Products Fairly
The Internet makes it more obvious than ever when a product’s price isn’t aligned with its value — or when companies are playing around with their pricing structure to maximize profit. Consumers’ trust in a brand nosedives when they discover a product is unfairly priced because of anti-competitive practices such as price fixing or collusion.
Ultimately, consumers want to feel they’re getting good value when they buy things, and people won’t return to brands that trick them into overspending. Pricing should feel straightforward and transparent.
Teradata, a technology company offering analytics solutions, ecosystem architecture consulting, and hybrid cloud solutions, has been especially customer-friendly and transparent in its pricing strategy. All customers have access to an analytics platform called Vantage that features consumption pricing. This allows customers to start with zero upfront payment and zero financial obligation. Customers pay for only what they actively use and consume. They can track usage by department, and they don’t have to forecast user demand — resources scale automatically and as needed.
4. Be Fair and Inclusive — and Show It!
Companies that discriminate against certain groups of people, whether based on sexual orientation, income, physical ability, ethnicity, religion, or age, are increasingly being called out publicly for discriminatory practices — sometimes leading to boycotts and other damaging actions.
Consumers today increasingly expect companies to be unbiased and treat them fairly, regardless of the executives’ or employees’ personal beliefs or biases. According to recent research from Accenture, about 70% of millennials will choose one brand over another if that brand demonstrates that it values diversity and inclusion in its offers and promotions.
Given the importance of inclusion to consumers today, more companies are focusing on it. Telecommunications company AT&T, for example, makes customer inclusion a big part of its diversity, equity, and inclusion mission. Among many initiatives, the company has created assistive technologies such as mobile phone screen-reading systems for blind and low-vision customers and emphasizes serving non-English-speaking customers in their preferred language.
Procter & Gamble talks about the importance of inclusion and the challenges diverse populations face in its marketing campaigns, including its 2018 Emmy award–winning ad called “The Talk,” which featured African American mothers talking with their children about racism. While the ad elicited mixed reactions, our research shows that the public wants to see companies take bold stands on social issues like this.
5. Never Tell a Lie in Your Advertising
Consumers expect brands to be honest in how they present themselves in advertising — and not twist the truth with misleading claims. Companies that are authentic and transparent in their marketing will ultimately endear themselves to consumers.
Toy maker Hasbro has won several honors for its ethical practices, which include its commitment to responsible advertising to both parents and kids. Beyond making sure its advertising is appropriate and respectful to its audiences, the toy and game maker also supports programs that teach kids’ media literacy and the tools and intentions of advertising.
As companies look to improve their customer experience and overall satisfaction, before anything else, they should first make sure they’re doing these five things.
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