Stronger customer support for companies that care for their workers

By our African Marketing Confederation News Team | 2024

Businesses can unlock significant goodwill among more empathetic customers by supporting employees in times of crisis, study finds.

Hospitality businesses that treat employees with care and empathy during times of crisis can activate considerable brand loyalty and generate future business among customers with high ethical idealism.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

This is according to a new US study by researchers at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. The results are published in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, a peer-reviewed academic journal. 


Melissa Baker, an Associate Professor, and her co-authors found that firms confronted with a crisis not of their own making – such as a natural disaster or global pandemic – can unlock significant goodwill and brand loyalty among more empathetic customers by supporting employees. 


Take for example, the Covid-19 pandemic. The study finds that hospitality companies that cut executive pay, rather than laid off or furloughed employees (a temporary cessation of paid employment) as an initial response to the pandemic were more likely to benefit from brand support, goodwill, positive word-of-mouth, and planned future purchases from customers with high ethical idealism. 


This helped to create a loyal and lucrative customer base for the long term, the researchers say. 


People will support brands they believe in 


“Customers are supporting brands that they believe in,” Baker states. “These customers can be the most loyal, which then equates to better positive word-of-mouth, more purchasing, and greater overall support for that brand.” 


The research indicates that more altruistic efforts by companies did not yield the same brand loyalty results among customers with lower ethical idealism.  


“Our findings provide a clear message that hospitality firms need to look at both the short-term and long-term consequences of their actions,” Baker observes.  


“You have to save the money so your business can stay afloat, but also understand that not taking care of your employees, particularly at the expense of keeping CEO pay high, may affect your long-term brand support.” 


The researchers note that their findings give credence to the old saying ‘heroes rise in tough times’, and that this appears to be a case of consumers evaluating corporate efforts to protect employees more highly because of the hardship that companies must also face. 


“It’s harder to quantify employee productivity and emotions, but hospitality is a team sport, and business is a team sport, so you have to have great employees and need to support your employees for your business to be successful,” Baker adds. 


You can find out more about the customer support study, titled ‘Heroes Rise in Tough Times: The Role of Ethical Idealism, Empathy, and Firm Responses to the Covid-19 Pandemic’, here. 

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.