Profit Through Ethics on Product & service information

Does your company provide relevant, evidence-based, unambiguous, easily-accessible product and/service information?

Yes

Treating clients, partners and stakeholders with openness, honesty and respect is essential in our business and core to our philosophy. As such, it is very important to be informative and accurate regarding the services we provide.

We work hard to ensure our service information is relevant, unambiguous and easily-accessible and we frequently review and revise web copy and the supporting digital documents we use to explain what we do and how we do it. This includes explanation of the mentoring service offered to companies and the fee structure. We will also work with participants by Skype or by phone or by email to ensure they gain maximum benefit from the review process inherent in the business tool.

Our service information is not subject to any third party audit. We are not comparable to any other transparency initiative nor, indeed, to many other businesses. As such, our ability to effectively describe what we offer and how this benefits a business that may wish to participate is challenging yet critical to success in what we do.

We have recently launched our new website to provide a more comprehensive overview of our concept, the problems we address, solution, and our clients and partners. We have offered detailed guidance to our clients on moving their company information and answers to the new platform. The website will continue to develop as we improve our offering with greater functionality and better branding. It may take some time for anyone who had participated in Responsible 100 in the past to adjust to our new website, however, we continue to ensure that our service information is relevant, unambiguous, and easily accessible.

We are aware of no national or international legislation concerning the provision of information to support the marketing and delivery of our service.

When information regarding price, quality, services and products is not available, it is impossible for customers or clients to make fully considered judgments about the goods and services they purchase. As such, it is generally considered to be a basic responsibility of a business to provide essential information about its products that is easily-accessible, reasonably complete, not confusing and stated in plain and understandable language.

When selling products and services, certain core areas are generally covered by consumer protection law. In the UK this includes safety, pricing, weights and measures, descriptions of products and services, the contract between a buyer and seller, competition between businesses, intellectual property and counterfeiting.

Businesses that are selling services, to individuals or other businesses, have further obligations and some sectors are more tightly regulated than others. For example, under UK law, the main features of the service being offered should be explicit, if not already apparent from the context. Generally, if the price is not pre-determined, a business must be able to supply a detailed estimate so that a client can use the proposed method to calculate the cost, check the figures and arrive at the price. Service providers may need to provide the terms and conditions used, including information on any contract terms that are governed by the law of a particular country ('the English courts have jurisdiction' or 'this contract is governed by Scottish law'). Further, as an after-sales guarantee may not be imposed by law, it is best practice to make clear whether such a guarantee exists or not.

When working within a regulated profession, best practice dictates that details of the associated regulatory regime be clear. Sometimes, professional liability insurance or a guarantee is a legal requirement. When so, information about insurance cover, contact details of the insurer and territorial coverage should be available to the client. Often, the professional body will provide additional complaint and dispute resolution services to help the public make complaints against professional members and this information might also be made available to clients.

However, consumer protection legislation is not exhaustive. For example, the consumer group Which? has campaigned for many years to ensure that health claims made about an increasing number of foods and food supplements are supported by verifiable evidence. This has been an EU regulation since 2006 but the list of verified claims is still to be agreed.

Even when it is not mandatory, therefore, good practice suggests that businesses should make certain that service information and product labelling provides relevant and fair information. Ideally, any claims that are made about a product or service will also be supported by factual evidence and not be based solely on the opinion of the manufacturer or service provider.

Insufficient, inaccurate or misleading information can damage customer confidence, risk legal challenge, introduce health and safety risks and threaten business reputation.

Answering YES

All Businesses MUST

State any philosophy or key values which govern or influence relationships with customers

Explain how they provide product or service information, e.g. product tags, leaflets, menu information, web pages

Describe what they include in the product labelling or service information, e.g. expected costs for services (as opposed to hidden costs in the small print)

Comply with and mention any national or international legislation that is applicable concerning product labelling and the provision of service information

All Businesses MAY

State whether any of their product labelling or service information is provided and/or audited by another organisation and say which organisation(s)

Answering NO

All Businesses MUST

Explain why they do not or cannot answer YES to this question and list the business reasons, any mitigating circumstance or any other reasons that apply

State what information they do provide if they are unable to meet all the criteria set out above

All Businesses MAY

Mention any future plans regarding this issue

DON'T KNOW is not a permissible answer to this question

NOT APPLICABLE is not a permissible answer to this question

Version 1

To receive a score of 'Excellent'

Service values core to company ethos

Examples of policy and practice which may support the EXCELLENT statement:

  1. Customer service obviously driving company actions
  2. Statement of philosophy or values or principles for communication/service
  3. Using product or service information to help build long-term relationships with their customers/clients
  4. Provide information far beyond minimum legally required
  5. Provides objective evidence about product/service
  6. Collect customer feedback to improve service information
  7. Use third party audit/review to ensure quality/clarity of information provided
  8. Cited as example of good practice by other organisations
To receive a score of 'Good'

Good information essential to delivering business product/service

Examples of policy and practice which may support the GOOD statement:

  1. Statement of philosophy or values or principles for delivering information
  2. Apparent that customer service values are driving company actions
  3. Provide information beyond minimum legally required in various formats
  4. Provides objective evidence about product/service
  5. Collect customer feedback to improve service information
To receive a score of 'Okay'

Customer service information at legal minimum

Examples of policy and practice which may support the OKAY statement:

  1. Provide minimum information (as legally required)
  2. Use more than one way to inform customers of products or services for easy access
To receive a score of 'Poor'

The business acknowledges performance below expectations or unsubstantiated claims made

Examples of policy and practice which may support the POOR statement:

  1. Statement of future intent to improve
  2. Limited information apparent
  3. Unsubstantiated claims made

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