What does it mean to be honest and fair with customers?

By 22/10/2018Blog, Uncategorized

Ahead of Blueprint’s What does it mean to be honest and fair with customers?’ panel event on November 7th, here’s our take on what honesty and fairness with customers looks like and the barriers and behaviours that lead businesses to fall short. We welcome your views and invite you to share any questions or topics you would like to see discussed at the event. You can download the full paper ‘What does it mean to be honest and fair with customers?’ here. 

What does it mean to be honest and fair with customers? How can business enable customers to make better-informed choices?

  • More than one in three (35%) people expected to face at least one consumer problem each year
  • Problems customers experience cost the UK economy £23 billion a year
  • Research shows consumer problems have clear economic and psychological impacts highlighting the need for clear and accessible routes to redress

We spend over £1.2 trillion on UK goods and services annually. Given this, some level of customer problems is perhaps inevitable. However, the current and disproportionate level of damage this causes to both individuals and the UK economy is not.

Citizens Advice research paints a stark picture, in which people in the UK face frequent and serious problems with products and services, and suffer significant and often severe health and financial impacts as a result. The findings also highlight the resulting impacts to the UK economy both in financial cost and lost productivity at work. Just considering the lens of severe customer problems represented in Citizens Advice’s report – and recognising that many problems go unreported because of the barriers to doing so – it is clear that there is a great deal more that businesses can and must do to be honest and fair with customers.

Blueprint’s thinking does not offer shortcuts to the answers but does paint a picture of what a business thinking and acting in this way might look like. The Principles can act as a start point for a discussion about what it means for a business to be “honest and fair with customers”.  Here are some illustrations of the behaviours this might involve:

Seeks to build lasting relationships with customers

  • There is a clear understanding of the importance of building relationships with customers reflected in many marketing campaigns. However, there is much more that could be done, and business has an opportunity to take the lead in this area, rather than waiting for regulation.

Deals honestly with customers, providing good and safe products and services

  • There is a raft of regulation to help protect customers from unsafe products. However, there are still businesses which aim to do nothing more than comply with the letter, rather than the spirit of the law, in dealing with their customers.

Openly shares its knowledge to enable customers to make better-informed choices especially in situations of information asymmetry or power imbalance

  • There is an increasing demand for companies to be more transparent about their pricing, their sourcing, how environmentally sustainable and how healthy their products are, and to deal fairly and promptly with problems and complaints. The opportunity that this approach presents is becoming clear in the growing number of start-ups, from challenger banks to energy companies that differentiate their products by offering customers easier access to information.

During the evening discussion we are organising on 7th November 2018 there will be an opportunity to participate in an open discussion about how to meet these challenges and hear diverse views on how to achieve this. Please do send us your thoughts in advance (email: enquiries@blueprintforbusiness.org), or share them during the discussion. Please download the full paper or sign up for the event here.