Importance of Integrity in Business

To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity”.Douglas Adams

Irrespective of size, or range of products or the seemingly best customer service there is, a company is nothing if it does not maintain integrity in business dealings. Companies must remember that starting or running a business with the sole purpose of making money is not a sustainable or even moral way of doing business. Customers are very easily able to see through the farce of ‘politeness’ that is covering unethical dealings and dishonesty.  Integrity in business or otherwise cannot be equated with anything else, but when a company displays integrity, it increases its chances to grow and make huge profits and have a loyal customer base. Integrity in business is easy to overlook but its repercussions can have far reaching negative effects, which any company would never want to face. We know that customers are happier doing business with people they like and trust and integrity in business yields enhances both trust and likeability in customers. It is about taking ownership for both the good and bad, being consistent in what your company says or does and treating both internal and external customers with respect.

Integrity in business is not just about ‘saying and doing the right things’ when you know that someone is watching or will realize otherwise.  Integrity in business (and otherwise) is about doing what is right even when no one will know the difference. In a company, it would mean making it a core part of the culture, the very air that everyone breathes and a habit that is ingrained in each one. With integrity at the helm of business, companies can ensure long term success and sustained profits, since not only customers but also employees will see its value and stay on with the company for a long time.

With digitization and the surge of the importance of the internet and online transactions, integrity in business dealings and protection of data has taken on a new meaning. Customers provide confidential information about themselves to companies for the purpose of business transactions and unless the company treats this information as sacrosanct, there can be no integrity, trust or reliability. No customer would do business with a company that cannot safeguard its information and in the present market scenario, customers are inundated with choices not just of products but also companies willing to do anything to attract more customers and business and so have no reason to accept anything but the best.

In our opinion, integrity in business or in an individual is not something that can be ‘learned’. It is not a subject to be taught – rather it must exist as an essential trait in the persons working in a company to make the whole set up of the company trustworthy. Integrity in business must, like all vital traits, start at the top. As we discussed, employees emulate what they see the leaders doing and if they perceive their leaders being dishonest and lacking integrity, this is the culture that will permeate throughout the company and without doubt be extended to customers. Integrity is not a tactic or strategy – it must be a given – it is about dealing with customers, with a conscience that sifts the right from wrong even if the customer is unable to make out the difference. However, long term both integrity and dishonesty surface – while one is extremely appealing to customers, the other will ensure that customers leave and let others know of your company’s ‘grey’ dealings.  What happens when even one customer posts an instance of dishonesty on social media for all to see? Worth thinking about!

It is strange that a company would indulge in unethical practices and digress from integrity in business. Strange because customers are a smart group and can easily see through and will lose no time to ensure that everyone else knows too and the negative affect will tarnish their reputation, cause massive losses financially and make it hard for them to attract or retain customers endangering the very survival of the company. Would you risk so much for one unethical transaction? As a company are you aware of what constitutes integrity in business?

  • As we said, integrity in business for a company begins at the top. The leaders of the company must strive for integrity in everything they do. They must be open to suggestions and use the feedback to grow the company and the culture of integrity and trustworthiness. They must be willing to take responsibility for the actions of the company as a whole and treat everyone with respect and honesty.
  • Companies that know and live by the fact that customers will do business only with people they can trust and depend upon will ensure that integrity and transparency in dealings are their hallmark. It is not hard for customers to detect dishonesty or integrity and they will express their views on both. Companies that apply integrity in business are steadfast, don’t need to waste time trying to cover up their misdoings and have more time to focus on business vitals like innovation and customer service.
  • Despite a company’s best intentions and high levels of customer service, there will be times when things go wrong. The company’s integrity in business will be put to the test in these circumstances and the truly honest ones will take complete responsibility of the lapse and do whatever it takes to make it better. They will honour all their commitments to the customer irrespective of tough situations – this is bound to make the customer smile.
  • Ensure that all your documents, agreements, print advertising and social media content are unambiguous and spell out clearly every small detail. This ensures that there is no room for any information to be misconstrued or misread.
  • Strict guidelines and measures must be in place especially while in accounting and book-keeping. These records must remain error free and be able to serve as a crystal clear example of your company’s integrity and ethical practices. They should be open to audits and scrutiny without any fear or reason to hide.
  • Integrity in business also translates to each person in the company treating everyone with the highest level of respect. This must transcend level and position in the company, titles, background or any other possible differences. Each person must maintain a professional and respectful demeanour and any deviations must be dealt with severely – but this is only possible when the people in the highest rungs practice integrity with all.
  • Giving back to society and remaining mindful of the environment is also a crucial part of integrity in business. Both employees and customers view ‘responsible business’ as extremely alluring and are more willing to work with a company that understands its responsibility beyond its business and building confines.

In our opinion, integrity in business or otherwise is a mind-set – you either have it or do not and no number of consequences will get you there unless it comes from within. Success is pre-determined for companies that practice integrity – better products, higher and sustained levels of customer service and a willingness to take responsibility to keep improving almost guarantee success.  When customers trust your company they are sure to get more people to do business with you. A customer’s trust is worth its weight in gold and actually has no limits on what a company can achieve when there are a large number of customers who can trust your company blindly.  For a company it also means that your employees will be people willing to put in more than their best to help you succeed because they see the benefits of trusting your company.  There is no doubt, that integrity in business goes way above any measurable strategies and brings with it infinite opportunities that will all lead to success.

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