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Image of cow talking about sustainabilty I was watching an interesting TV show today on sustainability. The show was on real conversations and one of the local hosts was Lisa Giruzzi who I know from the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce. So exactly what is sustainability; the simplest definition  was through Wikepedia.

For humans the definition is the  potential for long-term maintenance of well being, which in turn depends on the maintenance of the natural world and of natural resources.  The show was very informative, providing simple ideas for all of all of us, many I hadn’t thought about. It started me thinking, can a business tie in their green initiatives with their customer service policies? Customer service is based on being able to meet the customer’s needs and desires and these days sustainability is almost on everyone’s radar.

The quality of life in a community includes the economic, social and environment and systems that provide a healthy and productive meaningful life for their residents.  Many companies have a sustainable approach to their communities through their personal and business practices but  don’t share with their customers. I don’t think it’s deliberate,  I think it’s a matter of not understanding the importance of these ideas . Choosing to discuss these   practices not only impacts customers by delivering added value  but influences customers to become more involved with the business.  Through these practices a business can provide   systems that will positively impact the economic, social and environmental systems of their community for the future. Since businesses are considered community leaders, they have a responsibility to challenge outdated practices and innovate/improve products that will industry leaders that will drive change.

Business success is built on mutually beneficial customer relationships; simply, it’s doing the right things for your  customers. One way to do this is to behave in a responsible and ethical manner. By incorporating these principles, companies are building a unique marketing position which incorporates a view of the future.

I like it; doing good while doing the right thing. This is definitely customer service.

Talk with your staff about sustainability and your mission. Add your policies to your web site, blog it and talk about it on your Facebook page and other social media

How does a company do this? Here are a few ideas I gleamed from the show and a few of my own.

I would first explore the agencies within my community that are committed to sustainability/reducing the impact on carbon footprint. USGBC, United States Green Building Council (local chapter) Sierra Club, your local food coop and community gardens to name a few. Joining these organizations will give your business more visibility and new customers.

Give green gifts to your customers. One of the most interesting “toys” is a hand powered remote called a Jog Shuffle. Instead of batteries you wind it up!

Reduce energy by turning off lights and unplugging electronics while they aren’t in use. Install motion detectors to turn the lights off. Use weather stripping around the windows and doors or a “draft snake” to keep the cold out from under the door. Install a programmable thermostat.

Talk about the “green products” you sell, show how they are made and their impact on the environment. Serve hot beverage in real cups.  Are you aware that a paper cup actually can live in the land fill for 4-500 years? Used recycled bags or give away bags with your name on them that can be reused and recycled. Use less paper by sending estimates to your customers on line.

Sell a kitchen; give away a “green cookbook.” The “Adaptable Feast” has recipes of vegetarians and omnivores; something for everyone.

Buy a fuel efficient company vehicle; advertise its efficiency. New health clubs have spin bicycles hooked up to an inverter which bulbs directly into a wall socket and instantly the energy from class participants is converted to power the facility.
The most important thing to do is to invite your customers to join you and market your concern in your place of business, on line and through social media. How about a blog?



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