Published: December 28, 2016 | Comments
Spend time at any industry meeting, or browse the industry headlines and you’ll quickly realize there is a theme of how to boost retention, decrease the increasing costs per call, and increase low employee morale. Call centers have always been challenging to manage regarding the costs of training and employee turnover. Additional stresses facing call centers pivot around the generational shift taking place and the changing values of a younger workforce. While there is no silver-bullet to address the many challenges of the workplace to increase profitability, there are definitely steps that companies can take to limit turnover, boost morale, appeal to customers and do good in the world. Most companies have recognized the value of investing in effective training and certification programs, but there is more to be done. Beyond solid training for employees, customers expect more from the companies they do business with. They want to know that the dollars they spend with a brand or product are helping make a difference. This is where being a corporate social steward can be a net positive to your organization. It’s an investment valued by employees and customers.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
When we talk about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) we are going beyond the corporate sponsorship of a charity golf tournament or sponsoring a sports team. Being socially responsible is about making alliances and partnerships with existing social agencies so that deeper social issues can be addressed. Strategically aligning your organization with agencies to deliver social change is more than brand positioning. It’s a way for you company to exercise its values and mission in tangible ways. If part of your company’s mission statement is to “deliver the highest quality customer service” or to “be the best in the eyes of the customers and shareholders,” then part of fulfilling that mission is to invest in communities that your employees and shareholders live.
How does being socially responsible help the bottom line?
When corporations visibly invest in their communities, those companies become a place where people want to work. When agents are engaged with an employer that gives back, they feel that they are part of contributing to a better community. Companies that value their employees as individuals and community members are more likely to enjoy less attrition, loyalty, and enthusiasm from its employees which ultimately yields higher customer satisfaction. Beyond creating a more productive work environment, being socially responsible is also what customers expect. There are many companies that have taken the lead in CSR practices, including Telus International, Home Depot, Nike and FedEx Kinkos, and in today’s highly competitive environment, being known as a company that works to improve its communities will help set you apart from your competitors. In a study released by MIT a few years back, the authors found that when companies take social responsibility seriously, they enjoy competitive advantages, higher brand recognition and reputation, lower employee attrition and better employee engagement.
What it takes to make CSR work
There has been some pushback from consumers when they feel that a company is flaunting their CSR practices for marketing purposes without offering tangible results. The phrase “green washing” came about when consumers discovered that companies were creating slick campaigns regarding their environmental footprint, when in actuality their messaging didn’t match their efforts or results. For CSR to be taken seriously by consumers and employees it needs to be an honest extension of your company’s values. Developing a CSR ethic isn’t about marketing, it’s about investing in the greater good for your employees, customers and communities. It takes time, commitment and buy-in from all stakeholders and it needs to be woven throughout the company culture to be fully implemented. Telus International has had great success with its CSR initiatives and has seen the positive effects throughout its global offices regarding higher morale, less turnover, and better customer service delivery. Their success is a direct result of making CSR a priority throughout its operations with the help of Impakt, a leading global CSR company. Some of the ways Telus International has incorporated CSR practices into its operations include: focusing on youth and education in Central America, creating international community boards that distribute funds directly to organizations that work within communities where Telus operates, and instituting a Day of Giving.
Consumers are increasingly looking to CSR as a deciding factor of doing business with a company. They are savvy and can sniff out phony marketing regarding CSR practices, so being honest is paramount. While marketing plays an important role in developing messaging regarding your company’s CSR practices, but they are not responsible for its development and implementation. In order for your CSR actions to be taken seriously by employees and consumers, there needs to be clear messaging about your practices and buy-in from all stakeholders. The benefits to being corporate social stewards are clear: happier employees and more satisfied customers. Incorporating CSR strategies into your operations is a win-win and will deliver long-term benefits that boost the bottom line while also enhancing the communities you serve.