Think ethics don’t matter? According to a study by 23red, 91% of consumers say brand behavior is an influential factor in making purchases. Can you afford to lose 91% of your business because your company isn’t interested in ethical practices? I didn’t think so.
If your company is not trustworthy your chances of establishing customer loyalty will be severely diminished. What is the most important thing you can do to embrace business ethics, create loyalty and foster trust? Find a higher purpose and commit to consistent ethical principles.
A company whose only focus is their bottom line is too willing to compromise strong leadership, employee respect, and customer relationships. When business ethics are set aside so the end can justify the means everyone suffers – the company, its employees, and the consumer. If making money is your only focus, be prepared to fail.
Having credibility is a huge competitive advantage. Having a purpose beyond making a profit distinguishes your company. According to five years of research by Ethisphere, organizations with strong ethical principles also yield higher profit margins. On the contrary, unethical behaviors (even if not technically illegal) damage an organization’s image and reputation causing low morale, employee turnover, and customer loss.
You may think it’s okay to cut corners, tell little white lies, or disregard respect here and there. You may assume customers are not clued in to what goes on behind closed doors. But, your actions always have consequences and are at risk of being noticed and called out. Today’s customers are tuned in to every aspect of your company. More than any other tool at our disposal, social media highlights areas of mistrust and lack of ethical principles. Whether or not you are actively involved on social networks, your company is a topic of conversation. In the digital world your ethics and ethical deficiencies can be uncovered and disseminated in seconds.
The question you should always ask is: If this made front page news how would it make me look? How would it affect our brand reputation? Would I be ashamed? Embarrassed? Top leaders must commit to establishing an ethical environment. Observing a code of ethics and maintaining high standards translates into long-term relationships and loyalty.
With these things in mind you should first, use consistency and strong ethical principles to build a foundation for trust. Second, develop a strong code of ethics to cultivate openness and honesty with your customer and employees. Finally, add value by maintaining high standards and ensuring leadership values are consistent with your organization’s code of ethics.
By adding value, cultivating oppenness, and providing consistent principles the consumer becomes more loyal and supports the growth of your company. They also develop a sense of belonging and a shared concern for your success. The real bottom line is that companies must make business ethics a top priority. If you have any hope of building loyal relationships, brand advocates, and a strong company supported by strong leaders your principles cannot be compromised. Lack of ethical principles is the single biggest threat to customer loyalty and the success of your company.