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By our actions as a company we are judged in the eyes of our consumers, we must look for what will support the customer and the society in general the most.
Responsibility has many different aspects and focuses, and many different meanings from the many various perspectives of the multitude of people who pause to consider them. Some would call it integrity, some "giving back to society," others would call it having "good business practices which support the focus of the company."
All are aspects of responsibility, and all are valid and necessary, however the aspect which is sometimes lost to the wayside is that of the responsibility to the customer/business relationship; and while all of these focuses are a part of that interaction, none of them deal explicitly with it, or indeed even acknowledge it as a primary focus.
A business itself is founded upon a need, a need of the society, a need within the culture, or a need within the members of the business itself to improve the lives of those around it. Any business which does not fulfill a need, cannot profit, and will not sustain itself. A client or customer is the cultural/societal expression of the need in a form the business can interact with. If we view it from this standpoint, the reason the relationship should be the primary focus of a business comes to the fore. Without acknowledging or indeed forming and developing these relationships we as businesses cannot interact with or fulfill that need.
If we leave this interaction without looking deeper, we deny the human part of our business, and since a need is a wholly human conception, we are denying the purpose of our company's existence. To further degrade the interaction by seeking simply to look at numbers, we make it cheap, shallow, and as a whole we lose the regard of our clients. Though they may continue coming simply due to habit, or to a perception that our business is filling a need, the interaction is no longer as fulfilling or indeed satisfying.
Take a day to day interaction: that of getting coffee from a well known company. A customer enters the shop, is asked what they want, and given the drink of their choice. On the surface this is the whole of their interaction, but there is a much deeper interaction which is taking place. For example:
- The customer chose what shop to enter based on:
Their perception of the company as a whole, where it gets its coffee, how it treats the people who work for it, how many people have been positively affected in their circle of friends/acquaintances, what their experience was last time they entered, how the company has marketed itself, and what it expresses as important... Just to name a few.
- They then chose the coffee for many of the same elements:
The practices of the company and country where it was created, the enjoyment they received from the last time, the word of their friends and acquaintances, the amount of work they are willing to inflict on the barista, etc.
- They receive their beverage in a like manner:
The barista's presentation (tired, overworked, happy, underpaid, supported, content, etc.), the drink itself (good, bad, too hot, too cold, new, old, etc.), and then seek to find a place to drink it either with contentment, disgust, tiredness, happiness...
This illustration is meant to show how much depth goes into so minute an interaction as getting your coffee and how many unconscious factors are involved. Then if you think about how many times you do this, and how often it happens (for most of us almost every day) you begin to understand why the relationships should be more important than even the drink itself.
A quote I love by Chris Riley in his essay on The Cultural Influence of Brands: In Defense of Advertising states, "We do not need products to be symbols of empowerment: We have power." Things are not what people look for to make them powerful or to feel supported; interaction, support, harmony, contentment and respect are the primary goals in most people's hearts from any relationship, no matter with who or what they are interacting with. We could just as easily go to a different shop, we choose to go to the one we gain the most from.
Responsibility comes in when we look at the whole of our purpose, and strive to make every aspect of it that we can, be filled with integrity, honor and thoughtfulness. Each interaction should be focused on maintaining a level of professional dignity and honor, and respect each individual for the unique opportunity to they are providing to give meaning to the business. By our actions as a company we are judged in the eyes of our consumers, we must look for what will support the customer and the society in general the most.
To see more of my company philosophy please visit http://wp.syncopateddesign.com/
Learn more about the author, David Trick.
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