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How to Improve Customer Engagement & Trust with CSR


Michael LeBouef, the author of How to Win Customers and Keep Them for Life, once said:

“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” 

But while most businesses recognise the importance of pursuing a customer-focused approach to business, many struggle to keep their customers coming back.

In an attempt to do so, they try all kinds of methods to improve customer engagement and develop their trust to no avail. As they soon discover, many customer engagement and trust building methods are not only cumbersome, but are also largely ineffective. 

So what’s a business to do?

Try creating a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. 

Yes, in addition to helping businesses to boost their bottom line, increasing employee engagement and retention, and supporting talent acquisition, CSR can also improve customer engagement and trust.

If you’re keen to learn more, keep reading. In this article, we’ll delve into what research says about the relationship between CSR and customer engagement and trust. By the end, you’ll understand why CSR is such a vital component when it comes to building customer engagement and trust.

Why Improving Customer Engagement Matters

A couple on a shopping trip with the woman holding shopping bags

Before we take a look at what research says about CSR and customer engagement, let’s first establish why it’s worth improving customer engagement in the first place. 

Simply put, greater customer engagement is associated with propelling greater returns for businesses. 

For example, research from Gallup has shown that fully engaged customers represent a 23% higher premium in terms of share of wallet (profitability), revenue, and relationship growth over the average customer. 

Gartner’s research has also drawn similar conclusions. That is, increased customer engagement positively impacts everything from customer loyalty to customer experience.

With all of this in mind, it is hardly surprising that greater customer engagement is a goal for most businesses. 

How CSR Improves Customer Engagement

Two employees analysing customer engagement data on a laptop

As we will now explore, corporate social responsibility is one of the most effective—yet underutilised—customer engagement methods you can take advantage of.

A CSR program offers your company the opportunity to support charitable causes that contribute to the betterment of your community and society as a whole. By doing so, your company will not only be able to demonstrate to customers that it takes pressing societal issues seriously, but also that it adopts a values-driven approach to business. 

The reason this is critical to customer engagement is that customers are increasingly seeking information about businesses’ values and responses to societal issues. They’re also increasingly basing their buying decisions on such information.

For example, according to a study by Cone Communications/Ebiquity, 91% of customers worldwide expect companies to do more than make a profit; they want companies to operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues as well. Research from Deloitte has also shown that younger generations, “often put their wallets where their values are” by starting or stopping relationships based on companies’ responses to societal issues.

In addition, research shows that CSR can enable companies to develop a good reputation with customers.

The key takeaway is that if you want your company to thrive, you can no longer ignore customer demand for businesses to contribute to societal change. By implementing CSR initiatives, you’ll be able to illustrate to your customers and prospects that your company is playing its part. 

As many businesses have not yet recognised how important CSR is, this can also be a powerful way to set yourself apart from your competitors.

Why Improving Customer Trust Matters

Woman shopping for clothes considering two different long sleeve tops t

Trust may seem like an intangible concept for your business to focus its efforts on building. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that a large body of research points to the strong relationship between customer trust and buying decisions. 

According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust? study, 81% of customers said that their ability to trust a brand to do what is right was a deal-breaker or deciding factor in their brand buying decisions. 67% agreed that while a brand’s good reputation may get them to try a product, they will soon stop buying it unless they come to trust the company behind the product. 

Customers were also found to be far more likely to purchase from, remain loyal to, advocate, and defend the brands they trust. 

As if those reasons weren’t compelling enough, trust was even singled out as a key metric for business success in the current COVID-19 landscape.

How CSR Builds Customer Trust

Launching a corporate social responsibility program is a fantastic way to build trust with customers. 

In line with other major studies on the matter of customer trust, researchers from Forrester recommended that customer trust can be earned by “showing customers that you’re prioritising people’s well-being ahead of the company’s financial needs.”

In other words, if you want to develop customer trust in your company and take advantage of its associated benefits, CSR can help by exemplifying your company’s commitment to social change.

Needless to say, building trust takes time. It’s also something that needs to be constantly nurtured, particularly in light of research that shows how COVID-19 has contributed to a significant drop in customer trust, as well as customer energy in brands. 

Concluding Remarks

Corporate social responsibility is clearly a formidable avenue for building customer engagement trust. Unlike quick fixes or superficial strategies to improve customer engagement and trust, CSR demonstrates that your company is genuinely committed to supporting the community and improving the world we live in. 

If you’re ready to launch your CSR strategy or are looking for a practical way to improve your existing efforts, Catalyser’s employee giving platform can help. In fact, we’ve supported leading businesses, such as  King & Wood Mallesons, AMP, Vodafone, and EnergyAustralia, to make their CSR programs more impactful. 

Catalyser’s customisable design and world-class features make it easy for organisations of all shapes and sizes to reduce CSR administration and increase employee engagement in giving activities. To discover how Catalyser can help your CSR program, book a personal demo with our team or reach out to us at