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European Parliament wants to encourage sustainability through a "right to repair"

26 November 2020, 17:46 CET

We live in an age where consumer culture seems to rule the world. People have access to a vast array of goods and they're more than eager to spend their hard-earned money on them. Unfortunately, this behaviour leads to mindless consumption which has a serious negative impact on the environment, affecting the quality of our lives.

Mobile phone repair - Photo by PR MEDIA on Unsplash

The European Parliament has tried to tackle these issues through various measures, and their latest effort to boost sustainability involves the adoption of a proposition for a "right to repair". The resolution aims at increasing the lifespan of purchased goods by promoting reuse and repairs, thus reducing waste.

People buy gadgets, equipment pieces and all types of items every day, but more often than not these products end up in the waste bin sooner than expected because they break down too quickly, repair costs are too high or consumers are not willing to deal with the hassle of fixing them.

On Wednesday, 25th November, the MPs voted for a right to recovery that will encourage sustainable business and consumption in the European internal market. The resolution that was adopted with 395 votes in favour, 94 against and 207 abstentions proposes a series of measures to improve the reparability of products and give consumers alternatives to slow the replacement cycle.

Repairs made easy

The right to repair would make consumers' life infinitely easier when they have to deal with a malfunctioning product. That means consumers will be provided with comprehensive information regarding repair and maintenance options. Businesses should inform their customers whether a certain item can be repaired or not, let them know about the costs for spare parts and where they can be found and provide extended guarantees or guarantees for replaced parts.

The MPs also demand manufacturers to adopt measures that will extend the lifespan of the products they bring on the market, and they call for more transparent and responsible marketing practices when it comes to environmentally friendly claims.

Data provided by a Eurobarometer survey shows that Europeans are rather keen on repairing, with almost 77% of EU citizens willing to fix the products they've purchased instead of buying new ones. What's more, almost 80% of the respondents think there should be a law requiring manufacturers to provide repairs or spare parts for digital devices.

The growing power of consumers

Consumers today are more informed and connected than ever. Since knowledge is power and consumers have easy access to all the information they require, it's understandable why they call the shots.

Empowered by technology and the constant development of new tools that bring the world at their fingertips, consumers are also a lot more demanding than before and companies are having a hard time keeping up with their changing behaviour. They expect businesses to deliver great products and services in a fast and efficient manner while also providing a personal touch. Therefore, it's increasingly harder for businesses to check all these boxes, especially for start-ups and small businesses that run on limited resources.

What businesses can do to meet customers' expectations

However difficult it might be for businesses to meet customers' expectations these days, this is an absolute must for any company that wants to succeed. Where there's a challenge, there's also a solution (or more) that can help with it. The following strategies can prove useful for entrepreneurs looking for ways to keep their customers happy.

  • Knowing your audience

Knowing your audience is the golden rule when striving to meet customers' expectations. It's impossible to satisfy a customer if you don't know who he is and what he needs. Therefore, every respectable business should conduct a thorough research and find out as much as they can about their target audience. The more you know, the better. There are various methods that can help in this respect, from analysing your customer base, to conducting surveys or taking advantage of the benefits provided by the consumer market research services.

  • Reaching the right buyers

Once you have a clear picture of who your customers are, you can start taking action by using the appropriate approach and the right channels to promote your products and services. You have to get your products in front of the right people and not wait for them to find you. It's important to meet customers where they are and engage with them in a way that they'll find compelling and natural. Customers have to be lured, not chased away by aggressive advertising practices.

  • Looking for innovative ways to ensure customer satisfaction

When it comes to customer satisfaction, there's no one size fits all solution, so you have to adapt and be flexible about your offering and the interactions you have with your potential clients. If a certain approach has brought positive results so far, it doesn't mean you shouldn't look for other ways to keep customers happy. Surprise your target audience every once in a while, by providing something they don't expect. Clients always appreciate a business that goes the extra mile to meet their needs.

  • Providing great customer service

Excellent customer service is essential for building a strong and durable relationship with your existing customers and attracting new clients to your business. The people that interact with customers on a daily basis play a major role in the success of a company. This means you have to hire and train the right people and build a great support team that knows how to deal with customers and provide the level of service that customers expect.

  • Building a customer-centric culture

Although the customer support team does the heavy lifting on ensuring customers' satisfaction, every employee can contribute to this endeavour. Companies that build a customer-centric culture and get all their members involved in providing excellent customer experience will get far better results than those who leave all the responsibility to the support team. Approaching every activity and taking decisions with customer satisfaction in mind will help you company meet and even exceed customers' expectations.

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