Businesses have always relied on customers; whether it’s a local convenience shop dealing in household essentials or a multi-national service company, without customers there is no business. It’s been known for years that the relationship between consumer and company is a two-way street that goes beyond ‘vendor-purchaser’ – as well as a product, people want added value. Loyalty is no longer based on ‘getting what you paid for’ and companies know they need to do more.
The shift in the psychology of purchasing decisions is almost entirely down to the internet. Market dominance or high visibility no longer guarantee a sale; customers go online and have almost unlimited options from anywhere in the world, creating a much savvier consumer. People are focussed on ethical options and green credentials and don’t want to reward unsustainable or harmful businesses with their money.
The peril of not following the customer desire
Ethical and environmental scandals have cost companies and even charities dearly, with recent high-profile events such as the Oxfam scandal and even plastic packaging on cauliflower steaks causing huge problems. The days of suppressing negative stories have almost entirely disappeared, as social media can send a story worldwide, literally in seconds. Social media, however, is the very technology that gives companies the ability to set themselves apart from their competitors by engaging their audience, giving greater insight into company values and demonstrating how they’re achieving their mission statement.
Modern consumers are far more knowledgeable and want to deal with companies that they believe represent them. Increasing business transparency, dealing with openness and honesty and sharing concerns about sustainability, responsibility, fair trade, ethics, the environment and even international aid are all excellent ways to cater to the switched-on, forward-thinking customer and earn their loyalty.
Businesses need leadership and guidance
Businesses must ensure these measures are authentic and fully followed through. Today’s customer is too clever to fall for insincere pledges; these ideals must be part of the company culture and it takes strong leadership to guide every level of the business. Leaders must understand the principles of ethical practice, corporate social responsibility and environmental impact whilst simultaneously communicating their importance company-wide and representing these values to customers.
These concerns are not a consumer fad and the companies that can increase their transparency, bring the global focus on ethics into their industry and take charge to show customers that they not only understand the concerns but are acting upon them are the ones that will gain a competitive advantage for the future.
Here and now is where action is needed
The problem for businesses is that they need this kind of leadership quickly, with the right candidate hitting the ground running. This is one of the reasons that we created a 100% online MSc in Leadership and Management for International Business, helping you to prepare for a career dealing with these issues and affecting real change, and as all modules are delivered online, you can study wherever and whenever you like.
We’ve also removed the need for large, up-front payments, as all courses are pay-per-module and we have six start dates throughout the year, meaning you can begin when you’re ready. The ability to keep your current job and salary, whilst applying what you learn to your current role is incredibly attractive, but for employers, the ability to prove leadership credentials with a prestigious Russell Group Masters degree could make you an even more attractive candidate!
Modern business needs people who not only have the knowledge, but the desire and understanding to steer the company to a sustainable future, and an MSc in Leadership and Management from the University of York could be the very thing needed to do that.
For more information and to begin your application, click here.