Business Ethics continue to decay?


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I believe business is at a turning point and this will affect the way organizations have to deal with the Customer Experience. Let me explain, we all know people are habitual creatures, we do the same things until something occurs that makes us change. This change can be quite rapid when something happens that is traumatic and emotionally scars us.

It appears that the current and continued difficult state of the European economy, the manner in which some organizations are conducting themselves and the subsequent consequences for many people is now emotionally scarring people. This is changing the Customer view and who they can trust. People can see whole countries struggling with Debt Mountains; unemployment is through the roof and many people being plunged into poverty. Why is this happening? We all know this is due to the actions of a relatively few greedy people. The resultant recession is causing much hardship. Recessions are normally a relatively short lived phenomena but not this one, it seems to be going on and on in Europe with no sign of coming to a swift end. People are now saying ‘enough is enough’ and they are changing their habits. For example, people are not entering into so much debt as before. People are questioning whether they can trust large organizations. The former CEO of BP shares a similar view when writing in the Daily Telegraph recently.

I wrote about this in a bit of a ‘rant’ blog ‘When household names lie and cheat and the Customer Experience, a few weeks ago. I stated that I thought the integrity of business is being challenged with these and many other examples. Since then even more issues have surfaced. For example; senior exec pay increased by 12% last year but those fortunate enough to have jobs have their average pay only increasing by 1%. People are simply asking, is this fair? Only today we learn Barclays bank will pay penalties in the UK and US of £290m ($450m) for trying to rig the key interest rates at which banks lend money to each other.

As a consequence of this distrust for organizations we are seeing other habits change. A friend of mine (twitter@palayo) brought this research from Neilson to my attention. ( It shows 92% of consumers AROUND THE WORLD say they trust ‘earned media’ (word of mouth, friends and family’s recommendations) above all forms of advertising. This has increased by 18% since 2007. Note; the financial crisis started in 2008; I suggest the two facts are interlinked. Customers not trusting organizations and an increase in people turning to recommendations through people they can trust. In addition 70% said they trusted online consumer reviews, again with an increase of 15% in 4 years. My belief is that Customers have been emotionally scarred by the troubles we face today. Their behaviour is changing and this will not be the last change that happens with consumers as they question the integrity of organizations.

In my view this means that business needs to change the way they deal with Customers. They need to be much more transparent, open and honest if they are to regain Customer support. They need to understand, in the main, they are not trusted by consumers and build their Customer Experience accordingly. Finally they need to embrace the new way Customers are getting recommendations, via their family and friends, via social media and via online recommendations and design this into their Customer Experience, emotional scars take some time before they are healed.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


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