Thoughts on Integrity and Customer-Orientation

“In business, everything starts with integrity. Otherwise, it falls apart, though it does take time to find out who has integrity.”- Billie Jean King

Going by this adage by Billie Jean King, integrity has always been that attribute, a leader should possess to build a successful business. You cannot build a true foundation of business if you cannot cultivate that trust in your customers. As per the recent studies by the Global Business Ethics Survey, 33% of the workplaces in a total of 13 countries in the world observe the misconduct of organizations. These misconducts refer to obligatory violations of rules and business ethics to meet the demand for sales and to acquire the global market.

However, the report also suggests that with time, those companies face issues of less productivity and business turnover. On the flip side, organizations with strong ethics and cultures have a more engaging and committed workforce. This results in higher productivity and a gradual increase in turnovers.

Our values guide us in making considerable ethical decisions for the company and let our services be authentic to garner trust and lifelong faith from the customers. The seven sets of principles of business integrity have several aspects to it and can help your business boom. I will throw some light on the principles to tell you why.

Why you should understand the expectations of trust?

“We don’t want to push our ideas on to customers; we simply want to make what they want.”- Laura Ashley

Customers are the actual assets of a business. Without customers, a business has no meaning and purpose as such. But then you cannot have customers and drop them when not required. The secret of running a successful business lies in retaining your old customers. These old and loyal customers are the most crucial marketers of your business. The role of word-of-mouth publicity in growing a business is tremendous.

How important is it to ensure consistent improvements?

“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.”-Tim Collins

Continuous or consistent improvement is a buzzword of the industry. It explains a self-explanatory process of improving the business process to deliver the best to the customers. To work on this principle you have to be logical enough to embrace your flaws and accept the bitter truth. Your rationality needs to come into play to seek changes and advice that may come from your subordinates or customers as well.

In a report titled The Five Trademarks of Agile Organizations, of 2018, McKinsey is of the opinion that an agile organization can be considered more living in today’s time. The agile manifesto suggests that your business plan needs to align values and mission. You should focus more on your clients and reflect on their expectations. Furthermore, you need to unlearn certain business aspects and rather iterate as per the present market needs.

How will you reclaim business with past customers?

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”- Bill Gates, Microsoft

In this intensely competitive market scenario, marketers are always eager to add to more customers. Yet in this race, often the previous ones get replaced. So are you the one who is trying to win back your old customers? I think you need to work on your relevance and reach out to them to know what your customers want. Work on your re-engagement strategies by being vocal about your newest offers, services and periodically offer them discounts.

Why is it so important to accurately promote your organizations?

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”-Damon Richards

Your business communication needs to clearly define your work profile. They should not convey any wrong message about products or services through the advertising content.

A popular quote by leadership theorist, John Adair, goes like: “Communication is the sister of leadership.”

If your organization is unable to communicate the right message to the customers, then your business is at risk of losing your customer base. Competitive markets require you to pinpoint how you value your customers apart from your offerings contributing to it. That is what advertising does; you have to be careful about the words you choose and the skills you apply to communicate the right message and win their confidence.

Does your business need to be visible and responsible to your community?

Let me share with you a small instance of what your connection with the community does. Gus Petersilka owned a coffee shop in Canberra, Australia named Gus’s Coffee Shop in 1970. He decided to lay down chairs and desks outside the cafe for his customers to enjoy a coffee under the sun in the day time. After some days, the Land Department notified him and the next day, chairs and tables were carried off by the the department. With public outcry raised by Gus, the furniture was returned. Since then this set up became a part of the Coffee shop for the long summers of Canberra which remained closed in winter days.

He also regularly participated in public meets and local community affairs. When he died, the chief minister of the state presented a public notice about the indelible achievements of his business and posed him as a great example. However, there wasn’t any mention of his near-poor quality of the coffee. This is because his public connections helped him sell his products and brought widespread likeability.

What is the significance of conducting business with professional respect?

“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.”- Bob Nelson

Research by the Institute of Leadership and Management has to reveal that out of 83% of organizations having designated statements for mutual respect in the workplace, 38% of the managers adhere to it. Moreover, 63% of the subordinates complained of being asked to do tasks against business values. This shows how many organizations have tossed these values in the drawer that needs dusting for application. Contrary to this picture, a 2014-based survey by the Society for Human Resources Management shows that 70% of the employees believe that mutual respect is desirable. It alleviates productivity to offer desirable outputs.


Bottom Line

“Integrity is the human quality most necessary to business success.”- John C Maxwell

If your business is unfailing with the commitment to integrity you will not see failure in money and numbers. A business that sustains itself through all the strife and is able to bring a smile on the faces of people it connects with, builds a loyal community. Your integrity and customer-orientation can take your business to new heights.