The concept of corporate social responsibility or CSR is based on three dimensions which serve as its three pillars. These are the economic, social, and environmental responsibility. For a company to successfully practice CSR, all the three pillars have to be balanced and should be based on obligation and accountability.
Social responsibility is the most current dimension of CSR in which corporations take active participation in social issues and community affairs. The target of responsibility is the stakeholders which includes the customers or the buying public. The perception of offering respect and satisfaction to customers is nothing new to businesses but being responsible to customers creates an impact on profitability.
The consumers are more than essential to the business because without them, putting up a profit-generating firm is useless. Customers buy the products or services which they think can benefit them. It simply would not work if there is no support from the buying public.
Responsibility towards Consumers or Customers
So, how can an organization extend CSR to customers? Talking about responsibilities, a company’s obligation to the consumers are broader compared to other stakeholders; it may even take into account giving good value for money. The primary expectation of consumers towards the corporations is a stable supply of goods and services. So, companies must meet that expectation by delivering the right product or service with desirable quality at the right time, right place, and fair price.
Other responsibilities that companies have towards consumers are improving the standard of living through delivery of high quality products as well as treating the customers equally in the different aspects of the business interaction. And of course, customer satisfaction is no longer a plain objective of companies but it has now turned into a responsibility as an important factor for a firm to succeed. The powerful “word of mouth” advertisement of a company product or brand is proven to be effective in increasing product sales and revenue.
Customer satisfaction, simply put, is how the customers are properly dealt if, for example, they have complaints and queries. Companies are obliged to deliver prompt and courteous attention to such issues. They must keep a fair advertising and trading standards and not mislead the consumers into something that is not true. Firms are also responsible for providing the buying public with complete product, service, and company information to both existing and potential customers.
The Impact of Product Quality and Supply to Consumers
The stable availability of product supply or service is the primary expectation of customers then followed by product quality. These two factors must be given utmost attention in order to fulfill social responsibility to this external stakeholder. For companies to address these needs there are certain aspects in the business structure that should be taken into account. The supply chain is a big player in meeting the primary consumer expectation. Given the adequate supply and availability of raw materials and goods for producing good quality products and services, scarcity will not be so much of an issue.
Quality, on one hand, is also partly determined through the quality of raw goods and materials a company uses for its products. Although consumers have various buying preferences, majority would still choose a good quality product at a fairly high price than sacrifice quality which can eventually turn out to be more costly due to repetitive buying. Many companies aim to have product or service quality patented with international quality standards.
Purchasing Power of Consumers towards CSR Practices
Even if we say that the buying decisions really depend on the customers in the end, ethical business practices still add plus points and increase a good reputable image to them. For the most part, businesses adapt towards their customer’s wants and needs. However, if gaining profit is all there is to the existence of a certain business without fulfilling social responsibilities, your customers may eventually look for firms that have similar product quality but this time with a better customer service approach.
To reiterate, the nature of business now goes beyond gaining profit to establishing a connection with the stakeholders in order to gain general acceptance from the larger community. This only means that the customers’ roles have evolved from the central target as buyers to equally important stakeholders who have a great contribution to the success of any corporation.