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Before joining Microsoft and falling in love with the technology and platform and possibilities that the Azure public cloud provides, I was (and for a 2-digit number of years, gosh) an expert in the contact center and telco market: the technology that companies use to provide customer service on their products. Lately, my focus has been mostly on the customer experience, as the power clearly shifted over the years from the technology and technologists to the end-users and how their perception of experience was contributing to the success (or failure) of a company.
As a part of my customer experience work, I researched how to apply the idea of a Net Promoter Score. I was really drawn to the technique of using a single question to define if something was going to succeed or fail. But the more I saw companies using NPS, the more I realized this approach omitted an entire important set of choices a company can make: green choices.
While a customer is navigating your virtual space, such as a website, mobile app or even your physical store, there is nothing that communicates a green option for the product or the technology that is used to bring that product to the end user.
When I think about my e-commerce experiences, which started back in the year 2000, the closest example to a green option was the energy consumption label on some appliances. I searched the web and found the EU energy consumption labels only apply to the following categories: appliances (dishwashers, refrigerators, etc.), air conditioners, light bulbs, cars, televisions, houses, and tires. When buying a large appliance, this label helped me, as a consumer, to pick the one that was more energy efficient. While choosing an appliance that consumes less energy could be framed as a “greener” choice, in most cases, it’s framed more like a “cost savings” choice.
The point is we need to start doing something at all levels, and little changes can lead to a great impact if we concentrate our efforts in the same direction. Consumers make many small choices every day on the products they buy. In many cases, they have little or no knowledge about the carbon impact those choices have.
But what if the end-user could be more knowledgeable about the carbon impact of their purchases? Thinking of my own experiences as a user, I’d like to see in the foreseeable future something like:
- An energy consumption label (with street-light color code and A to F rating) on computers and devices.
- How recyclable a device is.
- Sustainable software, knowing that the software used in the device was created with sustainability paths and best practices and will allow the user choices on energy consumption.
- Active and real-time information from the energy suppliers about the carbon impact of the consumed energy in my house. A device might be labeled as low carbon impact, but knowing from the energy supplier when is the greenest moment (i.e. the time of day when energy is produced with alternative sources) to charge my device is something that needs to be done at user level and is highly dependent on the location.
Omitting carbon impact information from a product undervalues a customer’s desire to reduce their carbon footprint through their purchasing choices. Adding this labeling opens up a lot of potential for both consumers and companies to make more sustainable choices. For companies, this could even mean leveraging “green loyalty”, which is a marketing technique that can help people feel more active in their consumers’ choices on sustainability.
Today, a customer has the ability to make some green choices, such as conserving water, recycling, using reusable items and shopping bags, etc. Adding labeling around carbon impact would give customers significantly more choice. Despite the upfront challenges in providing this information, carbon impact labeling would allow products with a lower carbon impact to differentiate themselves. This could produce better products as well as a reduction in carbon emissions, and an overall education of technology users to search for the greener option.
Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.