Richard Mullinax, Global Managing Director, Energy ＆ Utilities at FleishmanHillard, published an article on LinkedIn with insights specific to the energy industry. Read the entire article here.
|The Authenticity Report – US Headlines
|US consumers changing expectations of Customer Benefits
Expectations of Customer Benefits (better value, customer care, innovation) are down year over year in the US. Consumers are switching their previously very high expectations of innovation to better value and to a lesser extent customer care. This also holds true for each country studied.
The frenzied demand for innovation is calming in the US
While consumers in more than half of the industries studied still rank innovation as their No. 1 driver, expectations are down from last year. The drop-off is especially evident in the technology sector where numbers have fallen sharply.
Transparent pricing is key to better value
Consumer expectations of better value rank No. 1, 2 or 3 in nearly all of the industries studied (19 of 21 industries). Surprisingly, how transparent a company is in its pricing is even more important than being cheaper than competitors. Consumers don’t want to be surprised by hidden costs after purchasing a product or service.
Consumers expect more from US company management
Expectations of Management Behavior (doing right, consistent performance, credible communications) are on the rise, accounting for 26% of what shapes consumers’ perceptions about a company in the US. In the past, company management was accountable primarily to investors and regulators. Consumers now have greater power to demand accountability too. Executive performance and conduct are critical to meeting consumers’ increasing expectations of Management Behavior.
Almost half the companies studied fall short, or only just meet, consumers’ expectations of doing right.
At a time when it’s more complex than ever for CEOs to do the right thing, consumers don’t see companies following through. By far the best way for a company to demonstrate its commitment to doing the right thing is to operate its business with the highest ethical standards. To make this stick with consumers companies need to stand behind their products and operate transparently.
Companies need to work harder to communicate more frequently and credibly with their stakeholders.
Over 40% of companies fall short, or only just meet, consumers’ expectations of credible communications. But overall, expectations of credible communications are not highly ranked. This shortfall may be driving down expectations. Companies that do communicate well will have a competitive advantage.
Though expectations remain low, they are on the rise compared to last year’s study. (Based on 10 of the 15 industries common to both studies.) Our previous study showed that in almost all industries, consumers looked for companies to be more open about their processes and practices. Technology was the exception, where people wanted communications that make it easier to resolve issues or problems.
Expectations around care of the environment are on the rise from last year
Consumers have higher expectations of companies’ role in taking care of the environment. Their expectations on average have increased over the last year. (Consumers have higher expectations around care of the environment in 14 of the 15 industries common to both studies.)
In the US care of environment drives advocacy for more companies than any other driver
Peoples’ support or opposition for companies to increase their business presence and employment opportunities in their community is most strongly linked to their perceptions of how well or poorly a company takes care of the environment. There are strong correlations between local advocacy and care of the environment for more companies than for any other driver. These relationships are both positive and negative: consumers are very willing to advocate for companies that are seen to take care of the environment – but won’t for companies that don’t.
To take care of their employees US companies are expected to offer comprehensive benefits more than just a pay check
People expect companies to provide employees comprehensive benefits that take care of lifestyle and offer peace of mind. These benefits packages are believed to be more important to employees than compensation plans that reflect simply their market value in dollars.