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Why do CSR people neglect customer services? And why that should change

This email from TripAdvisor.com may provide an insight into where customer service accountability is headed.

Here’s the headline to convince you to have a look at it:

“Meals from Hell vs. Food of the Gods”

For any of you who don’t use this site, it’s essential for travel tips and has never let me down.

I once almost fell for the marketing of a holiday firm offering cheap trips to Kenya, until I checked on TripAdvisor.

I found the company slated by many (and I mean many) of its customers for not paying its staff in Africa on time, or at all in some cases.

No wonder the trip was cheap.

TripAdvisor is surely the model for customer service accountability.

It must be only a matter of time before something this clear and credible hits your industry. Unless you are purely business to business.

Whilst Facebook groups and sites like moneysupermarket.com will fill the space in the meantime, it’s sites that move into the public lexicon, such as TripAdvisor, that companies should be even more concerned about.

So if you work in CSR or sustainability, make sure your focus is not just about the environment, community work, fairtrade or diversity.

Customer service, fulfilling your contract with your customer, comes first.

I am continually amazed that it features so poorly in corporate responsibility reporting.

Reporting on it honestly is a great innovation opportunity for a progressive company.

5 Comments

  1. "It must be only a matter of time before something this clear and credible hits your industry. Unless you are purely business to business."

    Hi, I totally agree with all your comments except for this one. I'm unclear how B2B companies might somehow be exempt from customer accountability and customer service. In fact, it's often customer service that makes or breaks the relationship and causes either loyalty or defection.

    Yes, the tenets of CSR — accountability, values, etc — should absolutely radiate through every aspect of the business… regardless of the type of company it is. We need to figure out how to get CSR out of a mere support function into day to day operations. Great topic for discussion.

  2. You make a valid point regarding CSR; however, I agree and disagree at the same time. CSR is usually separated from customer service because of the different goals that each try to accomplish.
    I agree whole heartedly that CSR should never replace customer service. Customers service should always be stellar not matter if the company is large or small.
    I do think that companies would benefit if they revised their CSR plans and looked in their backyards before looking around the world to help. There is a blog that talks about How to do CSR and it mentions just that, http://www.pilmerpr.com/blog/boardroompr/corporate-social-responsibility-how-you-can-do-it-–-part-iii/

    Overall I liked your post. Customer service is vital for the survival of any company.

  3. Jennifer, fair point! I must admit half thinking that saying that might get someone to comment on it.

    So thanks for pointing it out.

    I guess what I was trying to say, badly, is that public pressure, media etc, is less for B2B companies.

    But you are right, suppliers and partners don't last long if their customer service is terrible.

    I should have made that rather obvious point a bit clearer!

    Toby

  4. Smitha Vasudevan

    Corporate responsibility is all about ethics. It must obviously include responsible approach in customer service, employee management, marketing , advertising and other areas of managing an organization and its products or services. CSR should grow up from being a support service, monitoring the social and environmental aspects of the organization to a sustainable approach of managing quality of work life and customer relationship. Customer and employees very much form the part of society the organization's CSR caters to.

  5. Yeah! I agree with you there, "if you work in CSR or sustainability, make sure your focus is not just about the environment, community work, fairtrade or diversity." Customer service is one of the most important aspects of any business. I believe that without customers to purchase the business's products and services, the company cash flow dries up faster than a rain shower in the desert. Thanks for sharing.

    -mel-

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