Consumers have shifted their shopping preferences based on what they perceive a brand stands for across a wide range of areas, from avoiding harsh labor practices, to sourcing non-toxic materials, to paying employees fairly. While big companies spend large amount of PR dollars on communicating their socially conscious practices, small companies find it more difficult to meet this challenge. They often take the approach of choosing a charitable cause or two, writing an annual check and posting gala photos on Facebook.
This approach to having a social mission is a good first step but its impact can be limited. It suggests that doing good means supporting an external cause rather than adopting internal systems and practices that can have a more far-reaching impact on your community. This approach also suggests a clear distinction between “doing good” and building a profitable business, an idea which many sustainable companies have challenged.
A net promoter score (NPS) is a widely used tool to measure one type of impact you are having among current customers. Through these scores, you can monitor your reputation by learning the percentage of customers that are fans, versus those who have a neutral or negative attitude about your business. A high NPS and fan count should help you generate new leads by merely letting people know the likelihood that they will have a positive experience with your company.
While the net promoter score is an important tool to gauge the reputation of a business by closely listening to its existing customers, a different approach is needed to evaluate your social impact on a broader scale and in your community. This is because, whether you are aware of it or not, your business has a social impact on customers and potential customers that can impact revenue.
You are currently succeeding or failing at addressing local social conditions just by your company’s mere existence in the following ways:
- Delivering a convenient, reliable and quality product or service to meet a consumer need or want
- Providing a fair income to employees and revenue for local service providers and sourcing partners
- Developing resident skills and intellectual capital
- Creating a context for human productivity, which is the foundation for emotional health
- Providing an atmosphere for fostering teamwork and friendship
- Offering a healthy physical environment free from toxicity, physical insecurity or danger
- Establishing a visible part of a community’s composition, which impacts community attractiveness, likability, convenience, branding and physical design
Several community needs are addressed by the existence of well-functioning small businesses. When you communicate your social impact along these lines, you increase the perceived value of your business and every transaction becomes more meaningful to your customers. If you miss the mark on this, you are leaving dollars on the table, merely by making the consumer decision and purchase process more difficult and less rewarding.
So, how do you assess and leverage your social impact? First you must apply qualitative and not a quantitative approach to measuring your impact. Then you must identify the areas where you are doing well and communicate how you achieved this to target audiences. Finally, become creative about addressing areas of weakness that allow you to demonstrate progress and make this clear to your target audience as well.
Gaining clarity about your social impact is something that should drive customer growth and loyalty, and you should be able to see this reflected in better NPS scores and increased revenue. It will also help you view your business in new and inspiring ways.
Get control over your social impact. Call us anytime at 203-570-2096.