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CSR and Companies Act, 2013 – Responsibility or Compulsion

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The persistent commitment of corporates to act ethically and contribute to the socio-economic development, while refining the living standards of the employees and their families, as well as of the local community and society at large is Corporate Social Responsibility. It is also understood as a way through which companies achieve balance of social, environmental and economic imperatives in order to fulfil – the now global – dream of sustainable development.

In our modern world, sustainable development and inclusive growth have become catch phrases. An ideal situation calls for equal distribution of wealth and equal availability of opportunities for everyone. This, though, is easier said than done. The state alone is not accountable for the socio-economic development of a country, the corporate sector being as crucial cog in the wheel of development as the state. The profits that the private and/or the public sector make are supposed to be shared for the good of the nation. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an arrow in the quiver for holistic development of the nation. It is a mean to an end, the end being socio-economic development. It gives an opportunity to the corporates to give back to the nation.

Unfortunately, we live in a real world rather than an ideal one. Many questions arise when we talk about CSR. Is CSR enough? Is it followed to the letter? Is it merely a vehicle for corporates to build their brand value? To even try answering these questions, we have to have a deeper understanding of CSR.

CSR and Companies Act, 2013

There is a thin line that is drawn between a strategic business management concept, which CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility actually is, and charity, philanthropy or sponsorships. CSR is seen by businesses more as a technique to enhance the image of the brand than actually contributing to the society. It is the same all across the globe, with no exception. Ever since the birth of this concept, the mighty corporates have made fundamental contributions to the society as a whole and built a respectful brand image.

Let’s take the example of India. Before its independence and immediately after it, the social contribution of private companies was mostly confined to religious context, like building places of worship or donating to religious charities. With the liberalisation of Indian economy and surge of young entrepreneurs, organisations began to see beyond religion for their social contributions. Organisations like Aditya Birla group, Tata group and Reliance are some of the note-worthy companies that have made major investments in their CSR. Foreign companies like Larsen and Toubro, Cairn Energy, Coca Cola Company and others have also initiated many schemes under their CSR. These schemes range from setting up hospitals to starting vocational education or self-employment centres. Nowadays many organisations are involved in schemes like developing village industry clusters, adopting model villages and assistance to PAP (Project Affected People), and environment initiatives.

With the bill passed in the new Companies Act, 2013, the age old concept of Corporate Social Responsibility has seen a dramatic change in India. It is no longer a stunt to gain reputation but statutory responsibility that every company has to fulfil. According to the act, every company that meets any one of the following criteria of: a net worth of ₹500 crore or more, or with a turnover of ₹1000 crore or more or a net profit of ₹5 crore or more during any financial year will have to spend at least 2% of the average net profits of the company for CSR. It is also mentioned in the act that the company shall give preference to the local area and areas around where it operates, for spending the amount kept aside for Corporate Social Responsibility activities. These new rules would be applicable from 2014.

To assess the performance of the companies in their Corporate Social Responsibility, Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) have plans to develop India’s first CSR index. This index will also look into the mandatory two percent spending of the corporates as per the new Companies Act, 2013.    CSR and Companies Act, 2013

Although the amended Companies Act, 2013 lays down certain guidelines for the amount of money to be spent on CSR activities it – probably intentionally – stops short of defining the ambit of such activities. The government has left it open for the companies to decide on what activities/programs they would undertake to fulfil their CSR. Sachin Pilot, the Honourable Minister of Corporate Affairs, stated that the government has left the canvas wide open for the companies to decide on their own about CSR activities they wish to undertake to comply with the new norms. He also said the few areas prescribed under the law are only suggestive in nature and it should not be seen as a restrictive list.

After the amended Companies Act, 2013, many believe that the act of social responsibility shall be forced out of the corporates rather than being their natural and dedicated decision towards the society. However, it is imperative to understand the importance of contributions from corporates, as they can radically upgrade a community and the nation. The impact of CSR is not confined to  only social and economic well-being but it spreads to environmental and emotional well-being as well. With a mixed response to this bill from companies, it remains to be seen whether the Indian corporate sector takes CSR as an honest responsibility or merely a compulsion after the introduction of Companies Act, 2013.

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4 Ways to Improve Your Customer Experience

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Customer experience is much more than a one-time interaction. It’s an ongoing process that requires your business to think critically about how you can improve every interaction with your customers. Your customers should feel valued and understood at every step of the way, from first contact to the final sale. If you’re reading this, you know that customer experience is essential to the success of your business. It goes beyond surface-level niceties like “hello” and “thank you.” Instead, CX involves a 360-degree view of how customers perceive your company from beginning to end. These customer experience tips will help you streamline your interactions and give your customers the kind of service they want to return to.

Make it easy for customers to do business with you.

Never make your customers feel like they’re jumping through hoops to interact with you. Instead, make it easy for them to find and use your customer touchpoints—your website, social media channels, or physical storefront. Don’t forget about accessible payment options for your website and store to allow for multiple payment methods. Whether you include options to pay via PayPal or you need high risk merchant services due to poor business credit, pay attention to what you offer.

This applies to your customer service interactions as well. Make sure you have a clear way for customers to reach you through email, phone, a contact form, or some combination of the three. Be sure to include your hours of operation and any steps customers need to take to resolve their issues as swiftly and painlessly as possible.

Make sure your contact channels are functioning well.

Make sure you have a way for customers to reach you both during regular business hours and after business hours (if applicable). Ensure your phone system is working correctly, your emails are always sent, and your website or any other online contact form is easy to use. Additionally, make sure you’re responding to customers promptly. If you’re doing everything else right, but if your contact channels are a mess, you’ll end up with many frustrated customers. No one likes to feel ignored.

Offer solutions to problems, not just products or services

It’s essential to offer products, services, and solutions to your customer’s problems and concerns. When speaking with customers, focus on their challenges and how your products or services can resolve them. Remember that customer service isn’t just about sales. It’s about resolving customers’ concerns about your company, products, or services—even if they aren’t ready to buy yet. Your goal is to create a lifelong relationship, not just a single transaction.

Establish trust through transparency and authenticity

Trust is crucial for building a strong customer experience. Be transparent about your policies and your products—this means disclosing any potential risks or downsides as well. Be authentic in how you interact with your customers. You should always be yourself, even if that means you’re not the best salesperson or occasionally make a mistake. Customers will respect your authenticity, which builds trust and loyalty.

Summing up

If you take nothing else away from this article, this is the one thing you need to remember: your customer experience dictates your business’s future. Your customers don’t just experience your products or services once. They experience them throughout their entire relationship with you. Make sure you’re paying attention to every single touchpoint and listening to how you can improve. Put in the effort to improve your CX, and you’ll see the results in no time.

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David Faraco and Aquarius will create the First NFTs in Solidarity with Nature

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When it comes to the environment, we often think about ways to reduce our carbon footprint or recycle more. But what if there was a way to actually support the environment while also supporting your favorite artist? With NFT, now there is! NFT, or non-fungible tokens, are a new way to collect and trade digital art. And because they’re stored on the blockchain, they’re completely secure and immutable. That means that when you buy an NFT, you can be sure that you’re getting the real thing and that your purchase will support the artist directly. Plus, NFT are a great way to show your support for environmental causes. Aquarius and David Faraco are teaming up to create the first-ever nfts in solidarity with nature.

What is an NFT?

An NFT is a digital asset that is stored on a blockchain. The term NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. NFT are unique, unlike traditional cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, which can be exchanged for goods or services. NFT have been gaining in popularity due to their ability to represent digital assets in a more secure way. For example, an artist could create an NFT of their work and sell it as a digital collectible. The benefits of using an NFT include the fact that they cannot be counterfeited and are tamper-proof. David Faraco Heredia, will be creating the first ever NFT in solidarity with nature. This project is aimed at helping to preserve our planet’s natural resources.

How will David Faraco’s NFT help nature?

In David Faraco’s native country of Costa Rica, nearly a quarter of the land is protected in some way by the government. This includes rainforests, national parks, and biological reserves. Now, with the help of blockchain technology, Faraco is hoping to do even more to protect the environment. Faraco is the founder of Aquarius Crypto Universe, a company that creates non-fungible tokens (NFT). NFT are digital assets that can be bought, sold, or traded like traditional cryptocurrencies. However, unlike Bitcoin or Ethereum, each NFT is unique and cannot be replicated. Aquarius will use NFT to create digital certificates of ownership for land and wildlife. These certificates will be stored on the blockchain, making them tamper-proof and impossible to forge.

What are the benefits of using NFT?

  1. According to David Faraco, the benefits of using NFT include “the ability to show provenance, the immutability of the data, and the trustless nature of the technology.”
  2. He claims that by using NFT, we can “create a more sustainable future for our planet and its inhabitants.”
  3. Faraco believes that NFT “have the potential to revolutionize how we interact with and value Nature.”

David Faraco, CEO of Aquarius Crypto Universe, has announced that they will be creating the first ever NFT in solidarity with nature. This comes as a response to the growing environmental crisis and the need for new ways to support and protect our planet. NFT are unique and cannot be exchanged for another currency. This makes them ideal for supporting causes and organizations, like Aquarius, that are working to make a difference. These NFT will be available for purchase on Aquarius’ website and will help support their environmental initiatives.

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How to segment your customers for better results

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email marketing

Segmentation is classifying your audience by a relevant characteristic. This makes the strategy target prospects that could buy your product and increases the effectiveness of the campaigns.

Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy where segmentation is possible, as the best managers offer this possibility.

Why segment?

Segmentation is one of the marketing challenges facing companies today, because many are not used to it.

Until a few decades ago, advertising possibilities were limited to television, radio and newspaper commercials. These commercials reached all audiences equally. If the commercial was about women’s clothing, it was seen by men and boys alike. But the internet changed that.

Today, digital marketing offers great possibilities to segment the audience, so that everyone receives the information that is of interest and useful to them.

Some examples of segmentation are the following:

  • An appliance shop sends a special discount only to customers who are finishing paying for a product purchased in their shop.
  • A department store sends a toy catalogue to parents subscribed to its mailing list for the Christmas season.
  • A bookshop sends a newsletter with a discount coupon to parents with school-age children at the beginning of the academic year.
  • Invitations to an event on shop in a specific city, but only to subscribers who live in that city.

With these strategies you want the message to hit the target and get a lot of conversion, for this Mailrelay offers tools to segment the list in an easy and effective way. Thanks to this mass email software, you will be able to successfully segment your users in just a few minutes.

How to get a segmented mailing list?

At the time of the campaign, you can include some questions to find out some characteristics of the customer. For example, the name and surname, city, interests, etc.

Be careful with the questions, because they can dissuade the customer from subscribing, so you should only include the most important ones.

After subscribing, the customer may be asked to answer a survey, in which additional questions may be asked, but this should also be done with care, as it may be uncomfortable. It should always be optional and if the subscriber does not answer it at the first attempt, do not insist.

Another strategy to get the information we want is a contest. For this, you have to establish a very attractive prize that the subscribers appreciate very much.

Finally, purchasing habits can provide information. If a customer regularly buys products for cars, we can intuit that they own one, and we can design offers for them.

What are the advantages of audience segmentation?

The main advantage is that you gain in effectiveness, with segmentation you reach the specific customer who is in a position to buy. This allows you to design a direct message that speaks to the customer according to their needs and facilitates the sale.

It also happens that the message does not reach people who may consider it inappropriate. For example, if we have a mailing list with customers from a department store, and we are going to launch a campaign for women’s clothing, the men who receive it could mark it as spam, which would affect the company’s marketing plans.

In addition, segmentation generates greater engagement, as the customer feels that you are talking to him or her about his or her needs and concerns. Talking directly to subscribers is the best way to get closer to them and make them loyal customers.

Recommendations for segmenting your customers

  • If you are planning an email marketing campaign, it is very important that you do a proper and effective segmentation. For this, it is very important that you choose a mailing manager that has good segmentation tools.
  • Establish strategies for each segment of your audience, so that you get new niches to develop your business. Knowing the possibilities of your brand and the needs of your customers is fundamental to design strategies that will be profitable.
  • Combine the segmentation of the email marketing campaign with an excellent social media management, in order to achieve the appropriate proximity to make the relationship between the brand and the public strong. Social media is booming and is also a form of direct communication that can be very cost-effective.
  • The conformation of groups should be established strategically, this can be by gender, location, preferences, socioeconomic level, activity, etcetera. These groups should be very well differentiated and their distribution should be related to the business in question.

How to get better results from a segmented campaign?

If you have established an email marketing campaign for one of the groups you have defined in your list, the following tips can help you achieve better results:

  • Choose the right frequency according to the product and the characteristics of the group. A poorly chosen frequency can be counterproductive, if there are too many messages, it could lead to unsubscribes and if they are too infrequent, the message could be lost.
  • Analyse the metrics provided by the email marketing manager, with this information you will know if the campaign is giving results and have clues about what the problem may be, if there is one.
  • If it is a campaign of several newsletters, you can place a button for the subscriber to indicate if they are not interested in the campaign, that way you can remove them from the campaign and prevent them from unsubscribing from the list.
  • Surveys are a great tool, as they capture relevant information from customers. If they are applied, they should contain only one question, maximum 2, and always a selection by clicking on an answer option. Do not overuse surveys because they could generate unsubscribes.

If you are going to implement an email marketing campaign, segmentation is necessary to get the best possible results. We recommend you start researching today the most appropriate segmentation of your customers. You will be able to achieve great results with just a little effort. 

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