Between shareholders and customers, who is more important. Well on the face value, the former seems to very key to the success of a company.
You must must be used to large corporations with publicly listed shares having a separate department dedicated to investor relations.
For serious companies, the compelling case for an investor relations unit is beyond mere tokenism forced by a regulatory requirement. The unit is staffed with some of the best financial communicators and analysts whose energy are channeled to providing shareholders, investors and other sundry parties strategic information about the financial welfare of a company.
For well run small and unquoted companies, investors and shareholders are also catered for through periodic quarterly reviews and management meetings.
These two scenarios point to a fact that information is the life wire of any business whether small, medium, large, private or public. The continuous provision of such quality information to shareholders and investors engenders trust of all parties concerned.
A struggling company with huge losses can still raise funds either through new rounds and rights issue if its shareholders, creditors and investors trust such company. Trusting a company is assurance that the team behind the name are capable enough to turn the tide. That trust can only be earned when people are harmed with the right information.
If companies spend a great deal of care to inform their shareholders and investors about the state of their business; how many companies are as truthful to their customers?
Apart from advertising messages, sales driven promotions and ‘all well and dandy’ greetings on their birthdays’, how many companies share key challenges, emerging product and service risk factors and sustainability issues with their customers?
Just like shareholders and investors, the lack of information gives room for speculation and in-coordinate sentiments. However, while shareholders express their displeasure and lack of trust via a share sell off or cutting of stake, customers internalise their resentments, in their sub-conscious, they develop apathy towards companies and brands they trust less.
These feelings are bottled up for one day You will only know how strongly hated you are the day you have a scandal.
Companies must take their customers seriously just as they treat their shareholders. Customers are even more important to a company as there will be no shareholders standing should customers abandon a company.
The saying that customers are king should be taking beyond the lip service. As a matter of fact, customers are everything.