Sustaining customer relationships with green communication

It is widely agreed that the world needs to act quickly to tackle global issues such as climate change and inequality in our societies, Paragon’s Head of ESG Lucy Klinkenberg-Matthews explains how businesses can play a role.

Sustaining customer relationships with green communication

New email alert on laptop, communication connection message to global letters in the workplace.

Businesses are adopting more sustainable practices across their organisations and value chain, and it will be collaboration across value chains that will accelerate the drive to Net Zero. It is important to consider all areas of your business activities, including how you communicate with your customers.

90% of customers have decided to make more sustainable choices over the last five years, and consequently businesses are under greater scrutiny to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. Businesses need to communicate with their customers through a wide range of channels to meet their changing demands. Like any activity, communicating with customers, whether through printed or digital communications, generates a carbon footprint.

The carbon footprint of customer communications

Consumer research shows that the majority (59%) of people prefer to receive communication from brands via email. A staggering 333 billion emails are sent every day across the globe and the use of email communication suits brands in three distinct ways: it’s a simple lift, it satisfies the request of most customers, and finally, it is seen as more environmentally responsible than using postal services that deliver physical communications. It is important to remember that there is still a carbon footprint associated with delivering an email, and while there is research to suggest this is lower than delivering a printed item through the post, the addition of sound and video or a complex call to action can increase that carbon footprint significantly.

In neglecting the carbon footprint of emails, many companies are guilty of contributing to mass email traffic that frequently has minimal commercial impact due to its ‘see what sticks’ approach. The number of emails that go unread is extortionate, leading to the flooding of inboxes and the impact of each email being lost.

How to reduce excessive communication

Consequently, you need to focus on creating a greater commercial impact through communications via a more streamlined approach. This involves thinking critically and strategically about what your customers need and want to receive. By streamlining your customer communications, businesses can improve customers’ perception of their brand, improve customer engagement and retention, and reduce their carbon emissions.

Prioritising considered communications

Customers want to feel valued. This means being more targeted and tailoring the volume, channel and content of communications to customers’ specific requirements to ensure you are meeting their needs.

Suggestions like going digital-only often prove untenable in practice, and this of course won’t completely eliminate your business’ carbon footprint. Consequently, there is a need for an omnichannel communications approach that balances flexibility with satisfying customer preferences.

Approaches that incorporate physical and digital mail enable customers to decide for themselves which forms of communication they want to receive. Customers wishing to receive physical mail can still do so, while those who want to go digital can do so too.

Forming this balance is crucial, and it’s worth remembering the type of information being communicated when considering what form it should take. Important documents often require physical copies, while generic marketing communications are more effective in digital form, for example.

Calculating the carbon emissions associated with your communications is a really valuable exercise and helps drive responsible decision making around the formats, stock, and data management that can reduce the carbon footprint of a printed communication, or help inform decisions on digital communication strategies.

Communication is a vital part of a business’ strategy, so providing transparency around the associated carbon and environmental impact can help drive responsible strategies that improve customer experience and brand reputation while reducing the environmental footprint.

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