In times of digitalisation and oversupply, the balance of power on the market is changing. It is no longer only the market performance itself that is relevant for a purchase decision, but customers nowadays demand added value that goes beyond the actual performance. With the help of successful customer communication, companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors. As Paul Watzlawick said, you can't not communicate. It's the same with customer communications.
Customers increasingly want sustainable products that are environmentally friendly and ecologically produced. If a company acts sustainably, it is obvious to communicate this action to the customers as well, since the public interest in sustainability is increasing. While some companies still take a critical view of the issue of sustainability, it is still a decisive sales argument. With sustainability strategies, companies can gain a market advantage over their competitors. However, it is important for a company to communicate its sustainable actions credibly. Only if a company really lives and represents sustainable action in the long term does it appear authentic. Customers quickly notice when something is more appearance than reality and so a well-intentioned campaign quickly becomes greenwashing and the social media Shitstorm is not far away. Long-term, sustainable action is not only an important criterion for customers, but also for employee satisfaction and retention. However, in order for companies and customers to communicate on the same wavelength, customer needs must be determined in terms of sustainability. In the following we will show you some examples of how companies can use their sustainable actions for customer communication:
The stronger the interpersonal communication, the more effective the business relationships. For customer loyalty it is important to build up emotions and transport feelings so that the customer has the opportunity to identify with the company or product. Some people may have the stereotypical image of sustainability in mind in the form of green meadows, green banners and recycled paper. Sustainable action can be quite individual. The customer must be clear about how a company stands by sustainable action and how it defines sustainability for itself. For example, a storytelling approach is suitable so that the customer is not only confronted with definitions, figures or facts. Small videos or stories from the everyday life of a company employee can be used to define in a personal way what a company is already doing in order to act sustainably. Many customers may not even be aware of the extent to which sustainability is anchored in the corporate culture or may only see sustainable action in relation to a finished product. If, for example, an employee tells or shows how to travel to work by public transport or bicycle because this is encouraged by the employer, the issue of sustainability becomes much more tangible for customers.
Donate revenue to sustainable projects
In order to distinguish themselves from their competitors, companies can, for example, donate part of their revenues to sustainable projects. Since sustainability is such an enormously important factor in the purchase decision, customers are more willing to buy a product from a company that is committed to sustainable projects. The Sustainability Council website , for example, awards prizes to projects and initiatives that promote sustainable development in society. The projects on the website with the quality seal Project Sustainability are awarded by RENN (Regional Network Offices for Sustainability Strategies) in cooperation with RNE (Council for Sustainable Development). If a company communicates its willingness to donate to new and existing customers, customers are made aware of the company and positively influenced. As a further positive effect, such a campaign creates a dialogue with other companies. If the competition also notices how much sustainability scores, they have the opportunity to follow suit and also to commit themselves to sustainable action. This creates greater awareness of the issues of environmental protection and sustainability.
Actively involve customers in sustainable development
The following still applies: The customer is king. So that he feels perceived and valued, it is a great opportunity to actively involve customers in sustainable development. This is not about marketing a product, but rather about raising public awareness and strengthening acceptance for decisions relating to the company. If corporate decisions are made transparent and the customer is involved, this creates trust. On digital platforms, but also at trade fairs and events in particular, the opportunity can be created to conduct a dialogue with the customer. While the customer on the one hand feels valued because his opinion and feedback are desired, companies can also benefit from the dialogue and receive valuable advice and suggestions for their own actions. Authenticity and transparency are the be-all and end-all in customer communication, as problems and weaknesses are openly addressed by the company and an incentive is created to talk about them.
Open day/trade fair
Trade fairs and events or an open day offer a good opportunity to establish a direct customer relationship in times of digital communication. Here, small areas can be set up in which customers can obtain specific information on the topic of sustainable action within the company. In addition to general information, the previous points can also be integrated here and, for example, sustainable projects can be presented. By using screens or iPads, customers can be explained and shown how sustainability is implemented in concrete terms. One can explain why the company decided to send emails instead of printing flyers. Visually prepared information graphics or information videos offer themselves, in order to point out, to what extent the dispatch of enamels benefits the environment. Here, for example, it could be visualized how many trees have remained standing or how many printing costs have been saved. If you follow this up and show how the saved costs are used for sustainable action, a satisfied customer is guaranteed.