Employees and customers are every business first community, along with the whole supply chain partners and providers, physical neighbors and local authorities. Today, businesses have more reasons to embrace their communities - in this connected economy, without them there would hardly be any business.
Social responsibility is becoming more important, not just as a bullet point or a check off box on the annual report or corporate brochure. Those companies that are able to anticipate the values of their customers, super serve them and never waver have the opportunity and permission that such intent and actions create. One such company is the Body Shop.
I wrote about Anita Roddick at the time of her passing in September 2007. Ms. Roddick believed in the power to do good and communicated that commitment in The Body Shop's mission statement, "To dedicate our business to the pursuit of social and environmental change."
She had the reputation of a fearless and challenging businesswoman who believed in putting forth solutions. One of the vehicles for those conversations on environmental concerns is The Body Shop Community Trade initiatives, which made fair or community trade relationships more mainstream with 42 projects in 26 countries and aiming to develop more.
"How can I bring values into an industry that is certainly not values-laden?" That is the question she posed in her biography. She inspired many to do something. Her business transparency in the sourcing of the products' ingredients was a smart move and her insight as to corporations needing to open their doors to consumer power voluntarily were both ahead of the times.
Maybe that belief came from being an entrepreneur at heart. Dame Roddick, as she was called, talked about how that is something you cannot teach – how do you teach to be an outsider and "march to a different drumbeat"? However, there are certain qualities common to entrepreneurs; among them is the ability to be a great storyteller.
The Body Shop has been defining the customer experience by telling a different story – one of vision, responsibility, and care. By doing that, they have turned an idea into reality; people and customers come first. Today at Fast Company Expert blog we discuss how thebodyshopusa could improve its customers' experience on Twitter to make more connections.
In this National Day of Service, we can learn to do the same by pledging to put our skills and talent to work for the community we serve - that of our readers. Some ideas:
- Get to know your readers better every day. This will help you send business their way and share resources with them. I use personal welcome messages for first time visitors who leave a comment to get the dialogue started.
- Connect people in your network with each other by creating projects and opportunities for them to come together and help each other. In this manner, you strengthen not just your network, but the whole community.
- Join or create worthy initiatives like Blog Action Day not just to raise awareness, but as a participant in using the tools to help with the fund raising necessary to make the ideas work.
- Find ways to mentor students and young professionals by helping them with job interviews, career transition, references, and business tips. Perhaps you can make this a barter and ask them to teach you the use of some new technology.
- Barter services with your network. In tight economic cycles, the barter system is one of the best ways to help each other look good if there is no money to go around. This will also give you a chance to learn how you work with someone else.