Does corporate social responsibility improve customer service, or should companies focus purely on raising workers’ salaries, giving them clear instructions on how to interact with customers, and making them adopt a positive attitude towards their employer?
According to Daniel Korschun, PhD, at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, Professor C.B. Bhattacharya, at the ESMT European School of Management and Technology, and Professor Scott D. Swain, at the College of Business and Behavioral Science, Clemson University, corporate social responsibility improves customer service too.
Customer service refers to the interactions the seller has with customers and other prospects.
The team examined how frontline employees responded to such activities as ethical practices, environmental programs and charitable giving.
The study, “Corporate Social Responsibility, Customer Orientation, and the Job Performance of Frontline Employees“, published in the Journal of Marketing, is the first to trace the effects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) right from the perceptions of the CSR activities to actual job performance.
Korschun gathered and analyzed data from over 200 employees at a major financial services company.
CSR motivates workers differently
“What we found is that CSR motivates employees in an entirely different way.”
“Because CSR communicates the values of the company, it can become a window into the values of the customer.”
Korschun explained that if workers believe that customers share their excitement about the CSR activities carried out by the company, it may be an a conversation ice-breaker and make it easier to talk with them.
Worker confidence improves
“Employees become more confident that they know what customers want. And they become more motivated to serve those customers because they see that they care about the same sorts of things.”
The study found that while raising salaries, giving clear instructions, and other traditional means of improving performance can be effective, so is CSR; it represents a new way to motivate employees who are dealing directly with customers.
“This is an exciting finding for executives because we not only show that CSR can lead to better job performance, but we also document the entire thought process of employees.”
“Now executives can create CSR initiatives that maximize these benefits in job performance.”