By Will Adams, Senior Industry Analyst –
We all want to give back in some way, and many of us do. Maybe it’s a 5K run to help fund Alzheimer’s research or volunteering a few hours a week at a local pet shelter. The neuroscience behind altruism is clear: humans are more intrinsically motivated by giving and helping others because it can cause our brains to release higher levels of dopamine, a chemical responsible for happiness and joy.
Fortunately, utilities and the communities they engage with are the direct beneficiaries of this phenomenon. And it’s one of the leading indicators of Business Customer Satisfaction according to JD Power. Generally, corporate citizenship is a more important aspect of overall CSAT for business customers because the services utilities provide are vital to driving growth and production for local and regional economies. So, while there are several different projects and initiatives that vastly differ in size, scope and focus, there are few concepts to keep in mind:
- Focus on Specific Charitable Efforts at Scale – Sponsoring specific causes such as a 5K run for disease/condition awareness with proceeds going to charitable organizations, research groups, etc. For example, if members of the local community understand that your utility’s corporate executives, employees and other volunteers are participating in raising awareness for an issue, it can have a positive impact on CSAT, brand awareness and trust, loyalty, etc. Interviews, personal stories, etc. can add depth to the impetus behind the cause and why it’s a genuine effort for the utility and its employees to support.
- Make Efforts Viral – Corporate citizenship and positive, heartwarming stories are commonly shared on channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Sharing videos, stories and examples of utility volunteers at homeless shelters, charities like the Red Cross and especially animal-related organizations like the Humane Society can have a big impact on creating goodwill among residential customers to show your company genuinely cares and wants to make a difference in the local community.
- Local Businesses Are Partners in Citizenship – While corporate citizenship efforts may not necessarily have as great of an impact on residential customers, business customers of all sizes want communications about “utility partnerships” to help create jobs, grow the local economy and other programs that can help strengthen the local economy – Girls and Boys Clubs, Boy Scouts, after school programs, food banks, etc. So, approaches to engaging local community leaders can be most effective when utilities “partner” with local businesses.
I’d like to hear about your utility’s goals and objectives related to corporate citizenship and community engagement in the comments section below. How is your utility positioning itself in the local community? What is your utility doing to establish partnerships with local businesses and civil leaders in your area?