Sustainability: It’s more than a fashion trend in 2012
It’s become very fashionable and trendy to go “green.” There is considerable social pressure to be “green.” Organizations spend money to conform and we recycle even though it costs time and there is no direct economic return to us. Many employees are looking for their workplaces to encourage sustainability. Some employees will choose employers based upon their level of social responsibility and sustainability is certainly a key part of social responsibility.
As a contact center leader or agent, you may be saying “Come on Dave, we already have recycling bins for paper and cans, what else can we do to be more sustainable?” You might even think being “green” is more expensive and while it may be a social and moral imperative, we can’t afford it.
The concept of sustainability has emerged from being or going “green.” Some contact centers have begun to feel social pressure to implement sustainability programs. Very large contact centers often justify the expense based on the PR value. They’re in the public spotlight more often and the perceived benefit to being seen as a good corporate citizen certainly has value. Leaders of small contact center companies may be more reticent because they lack the resources of their larger counterparts and aren’t in the public spotlight.
In this economy, all companies, especially contact centers have to be more pragmatic. If there isn’t a good return on investment, we must refuse to act. This can leave the leaders feeling like they are caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they want to be socially and environmentally responsible. On the other hand, they are aware of the necessity to create, not destroy, shareholder value.
In the same way, there used to be a generally accepted principle that obtaining better quality cost more. Higher quality meant higher costs. Then in 1979 Phil Crosby taught us that “Quality is Free.” That is, if quality is defined as conformance to requirements, doing things right the first time is less expensive than doing it wrong and having to deal with the consequences. A Mercedes Benz may still cost more than a Chevrolet, but you aren’t paying just for quality, you are paying for luxury and prestige. The Chevrolet can be a quality product if it is produced in conformance to the requirements. Getting it right the first time will be less expensive. Actually, quality is better than free, it’s profitable. We are just beginning to view sustainability in the same light as quality. Properly implemented, sustainability cannot only be free, it can be profitable. This makes sustainability accessible to small businesses.
Improving profits through sustainability requires you to begin by assessing where you are today. This link will allow you to complete the sustainability assessment:
Our next blog will address the business strategy and process of sustainability.