How CSR Inspires Better Customer Service

How CSR Inspires Better Customer Service

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes can have an impact on employees’ performance, according to an article on HRE Online.

The publication quotes a recent study led by Daniel Korschun, assistant professor of marketing at the LeBow College of Business at Philadelphia-based Drexel University. The report appeared in the May issue of the American Marketing Association’s Journal of Marketing. The research project focused on how 221 frontline employees at a large financial services provider responded to CSR activities, for example charity donations or environmental protection programmes, and how these initiatives affected their job performance.

What the study found was that CSR initiatives can help employees establish a connection with their boss or senior management representatives, as well as with the customers they serve. This stimulates employee engagement and can lead to better customer service.

HRE Online quotes Korschun as saying that CSR can alleviate the tension frontline employees experience when they have to act as mediators between the company and customers.

According to Korschun, when employees believe their corporate leaders are as passionate about CSR programmes as the employees themselves, staff find it easier to bond with their employers. Similarly, when employees discover that customers hold the same values, they are, as Korschun puts it, ready to “move mountains” for those customers.

CSR programmes also serve as ice breakers, sparking informal conversation between sales people and customers, Korschun notes.

Adam Zuckerman, practice leader at global professional services firm Towers Watson, wholeheartedly agrees with the findings of Korschun’s study. In Zuckerman’s view, CSR activities can positively affect employee performance. Finding about their organisation’s CSR programmes, employees may start viewing leadership in a positive light while also developing a sense of pride in their company and becoming inspired to offer better customer service.

According to Zuckerman, Korschun’s study is important in that it provides evidence of how the actions of company leaders influence the performance of employees.

But while employees get excited about CSR activities, they often don’t have a clear understanding of them. Employee awareness of CSR programmes ranges from 20% to 70%, with employee knowledge remaining rather vague even at the higher end, Korschun says.

HR can play a key role in acquainting current and future employees with CSR activities, says Katy Moore, director of corporate strategy at the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers. HR can do that by posting messages about CSR programmes on the company’s website, as well as in employee newsletters and on recruitment web pages. Acquainting new recruits with CSR opportunities matters as it shows job candidates that CSR is important to the company.

Spreading information throughout the company about CSR programmes is important, but how those programmes are managed is of great significance too, Moore notes. Senior executives need to be authentic about CSR if they want frontline employees to be inspired by such initiatives.

Moore also praises Korschun’s study, saying it confirms beliefs that CSR can help attract, keep and stimulate both employees and customers.