Businesses produce products or supply services to consumers, but a company cannot exist if no one purchases these products or services. Consumers are the lifeblood of any business and it is essential for a company to develop and maintain a positive relationship in order to find success. The relationships between consumers and businesses can be found on different levels, from how an individual is treated to the way a company is viewed by the community at large.
According to CERP, a European organization of PR professionals, consumer relations are actions taken for “improving consumer confidence in the quality of products and services.” Consumer relations are comprised of planned programs and are significant to professional organizations to achieve consumer satisfaction. These programs include such areas as customer service, public relations and even advertising.
Customer service departments are involved in the most direct interactions with consumers. The people who work in these roles deal with customers, often unhappy ones. It is important for an employee in customer service to handle all situations as diplomatically as possible. Even if the voice on the other line of the phone, or person standing on the other side of the counter, is angry and volatile, a professional needs to keep his composure and be as understanding as possible. To offer poor customer service will only create a negative relationship.
A positive relation with consumers is important on a variety of levels. The way people feel about companies has an impact on whether they will continue to purchase the products or use services the businesses offer. One way to maintain a positive relation within society is to utilize public relations (PR). A PR department or firm is responsible for creating a positive association with the company in the public eye. A major responsibility for PR departments is to trumpet noteworthy accomplishments and actions which serve to enhance the community.
Role of Business in the Community
Businesses are visible entities in the community. They provide jobs and have influence on the local economy and often the government, too. The role of business in the community affects consumer relations. When consumers see a company which is hiring neighbors and improving the community, a positive association is developed. This positive image can be influential for a local customer-base. And if a particular company is employing friends and family, it will help to attract business from local residents who wish to support loved ones.
Donations and Volunteer Work
Businesses can establish positive consumer relations by donating money to charities. Potential customers feel good when a company gives money back and helps others in need. Besides donating money, volunteer work goes a long way towards developing a healthy consumer relationship. When a team of employees from a particular company go out and perform service in the community, it enhances the image of the organization and creates a positive relationship.
Negative Consumer Relations
When a company offers poor customer service or finds itself in a negative light for the public’s eye, it leads to negative consumer relations. Bad publicity, such as a public recall of a product, affects the attitude of consumers towards a particular company. Trust is an important component of consumer relations and when a company loses it, it is difficult to earn back. Negative relations also are formed when a customer receives service which is less than satisfactory. For this reason, all employees who interact with customers must be courteous and professional.
- customer service image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com