It’s vital for any company to understand the importance of customer expectations in order to build a successful business model, and the same goes for a philanthropic platform.

Today more than ever before, the customer holds all the power. If a product is flawed or a service does not meet expectations, the customer can share the negative experience with the entire world in seconds through social media. Remember the United Breaks Guitar video? It’s now sitting at over 14 million views.

Frightening isn’t it?! It really is in the best interest of every business to ensure it delivers the very best to it’s customers.

Customers today also have higher expectations for the corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs of businesses. Increasingly, it is no longer adequate for a firm to simply provide a high quality product or excellent service. Consumers now expect businesses to also make tangible efforts to better its local and/global community. They expect corporations to abide by environmental and social ethics and international norms.

The 2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR Study reports that, “91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause given comparable price and quality”. So, it’s in the financial interest of a company to invest its time, energy, and money into a cause that customers and communities can enthusiastically support.

Even though businesses are built in sections, with budgets and accountabilities driving employee actions, customers look at an organization and see only one brand.

IMPORTANT NOTE! When customers look at an organization, they see only one brand.

When consumers assess a firm, they often don’t recognize or take into account the corporate structure. As a result, businesses should use their marketing dollars to create a more unified brand and ensure it aligns with the community expectations on philanthropy.

A customer is always impressed with a firm if it meets or exceeds his or her expectations, and that can only be achieved once a firm takes the time to understand the individual and community expectations of for-profit companies.

Here are three major expectations that today’s consumers have for corporations:

  1. Structural and operational changes are necessary.
    Savvy consumers recognize that meaningful development is fostered from big changes in operations, supply chain, and traditional business conduct. Cone Communications reports that 31% of global customers think companies should change the way they operate to align with greater social and environmental needs.

    So, rather than a company adding a keychain to its product line, with 10% of its profits being donated to a charity, it’s time for companies to rethink their entire CSR and philanthroship strategy.
  2. Become an advocate.
    In today’s world, 29% of consumers believe that businesses should support and advocate for social or environmental development by increasing awareness of the issue and donating products or services, money or volunteering. This means firms should create extensive CSR platforms and incorporate philanthroship into the core of their operations.
  3. The ‘extra mile’ is no longer extra.

    Today, the vast majority of consumers want businesses to go the extra mile by operating in a responsible manner and helping to address social and environmental issues. Customers want to see CSR programs fully engrained into a company’s operations, rather than just tacked on as an afterthought.

    It’s vital for corporations to understand that they no longer exist with the sole mandate to make money for shareholders. Businesses are now expected by consumers to whole-heartedly support social and environmental issues.

“The question is not whether companies will engage in corporate social responsibility, but how they will create real and meaningful impact. Corporate social responsibility is no longer an option — it is emphatically and indisputably a must-do.” – Cone Communications