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Does Green Make Cents? The Business Case, or lack thereof, for Going Green

Does Green Make Cents? The Business Case, or lack thereof, for Going Green

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Published by: PipelinePublishing on Nov 17, 2011
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© 2011, All informaon contained herein is the sole property of Pipeline Publishing, LLC. Pipeline Publishing LLC reserves all rights and privileges regarding the use of this informaon. Anyunauthorized use, such as distribung, copying, modifying, or reprinng, is not permied. This document is not intended for reproducon or distribuon outside of 
.To obtain permission to reproduce or distribute this document contact
 for informaon about Reprint Services.
Does Green Make Cents?The Business Case, or lackthereof, for Going Green
By Ed FinegoldEnvironmentally-riendly and sustainable businesspractices are controversial. Skeptics will wonderwhether recycling oce paper and shutting o thelights really makes a dierence when colleagues arefying all over the world in kerosene burning, CO2-spewing airliners every day. For communicationsoperators, like most major enterprises in an age o climate-change ear politics, green initiatives arepromoted regularly in external communications. But they aren’t the rst oot orward, in most cases, and itis dicult to nd any evidence suggesting that greenbusiness practices improve customer loyalty andsatisaction in a broad or measurable way.
The Reticent Tree-Hugger
Credo Mobile is a small MVNO, owned by Working Assets and using Sprint’s network, that bills itsel as“more than a network; a movement.” In reality, it’sseveral movements, most o which represent let-leaning political agendas spanning everything romputting solar panels on the White House to boycotting Texas Governor Rick Perry’s prayer event. Its currentcustomer acquisition marketing targets AT&T, calling  the company “right wing extremists” and highlights,among other things, the $169,500 the companydonated to election campaigns “o global warming deniers elected to Congress in 2010.” One percent o every Credo subscriber’s charges go to donations tosupport Credo’s political agenda.From a green perspective, Credo highlights its mobilephone recycling and its use o soy-based ink on billsprinted on recycled paper. The company also claims to plant, “100 trees or every ton o paper we use,”and to oset, “all emissions produced in the shipping and charging o our phones over their lietime,as well as, “the carbon ootprint o our corporateoperations.”Bill Kula, Director o Media Relations or VerizonCommunications, when asked whether Verizon hasmeasured increased customer loyalty and satisaction
Volume 8, Issue 2
 
© 2011, All informaon contained herein is the sole property of Pipeline Publishing, LLC. Pipeline Publishing LLC reserves all rights and privileges regarding the use of this informaon. Anyunauthorized use, such as distribung, copying, modifying, or reprinng, is not permied. This document is not intended for reproducon or distribuon outside of 
www.pipelinepub.com
.To obtain permission to reproduce or distribute this document contact
sales@pipelinepub.com
for informaon about Reprint Services.
among customers who have adopted online billing and payment, admits that the company has, “notdone such a measurement,” but says that, “customerretention is signicantly high among customers whohave adopted online usage.”He says that Verizon knows, “that customers whoengage with our online and mobile properties havea lower churn rate than those who do not,” and thatwhile there are many contributing actors, Verizon,“believe[s] the ‘green’ actor is one o them.” Kulaadds that the, “pace o adoption” o paperless billing,“is slowly accelerating.” Promotional campaigns tend to bump it along a bit aster, he says, as, “usage ormobile billing has more than doubled in the pastyear.” And Kula states rankly that, “while the ‘going green’ actor appeals to a small segment, studieshave shown that customers are more interested insavings or a chance to win ree services.”Verizon has been running sweepstakes to encourageelimination o paper billing and payment methods.The pitch is simple – customers who switch to paperree billing are entered in a sweepstakes to win$10,000.00. Those who also sign up to pay their billsautomatically rom a bank account get a second entryinto the sweepstakes. The secondary messaging  tied to paperless billing – somewhat understatedcompared to the sweepstakes promotion – promotesa green angle.Though the desire to go green may not drivepaperless billing uptake in big ways, Kula points out that Verizon’s wireless segment, “has generatedapproximately $1 million in cost savings year to date.” through paperless billing and payment. So, whilegoing green may not drive uptake in big ways, thereis a measurable byproduct in regards to expensereduction that results rom paperless billing’seciency. Kula urther adds that in a recent surveyo roughly 2,400 Verizon Wireless customers, 61percent said that they would download a smartphoneapp to access account, billing, and support unctionsand would be most likely to view and pay bills, andview and update account proles using a mobile app.
The ‘A’ Stands for ‘Arbor Day’
AT&T has a range o sustainability initiatives that aresimilar to enterprises in many markets in regards torecycling and eorts to reduce energy consumption.AT&T maintains an alliance with the Arbor DayFoundation and takes credit or helping to plantmore than 250,000 trees in 2010. The companysays more than 14 million o its customers, across allsegments, have opted-in to paperless billing; again, this is roughly 10 percent o its consumer customerbase across wireless and wireline, based on guresrom its most recent 10-Q. That uptake translated into667 million sheets o paper saved, which AT&T claimsis equivalent to roughly 96,000 trees. Furthermore, the company recycled more than 3.5 million wirelessdevices in 2010, which is about 12.5 percent less than two quarters worth o net subscriber additions.Whether these initiatives deliver measurablecustomer loyalty or customer satisaction gains isnot something on which the company was able tocomment specically. As much as AT&T makes anadmirable eort to demonstrate its commitment tosustainability, it’s not clear whether customers areexcited by it in ways that translate into sales or loyalty.With that said, green business appears to be a must-have in today’s image-driven market, even i in realityit is a “nice-to-have” or customers.
Sustainable, or Not So Much
Sprint appears to take sustainability seriously. Thecompany has multiple programs, including reewireless device recycling and buy back, to promotewaste reduction. In 2010, Newsweek rankedSprint sixth among its “500 Greenest Companiesin America.” It oers at least three dierent “eco-riendly” wireless phones made with materials likecorn-based bio-plastic and lead-ree paint. On astrategic level, according to Sprint’s website, thecompany’s headquarters in Overland Park, Kansassources 80 percent o its power rom a wind armin Spearville, Kansas, which saves the equivalent o more than 146,000 barrels o oil per year.But here’s the twist – according to an AssociatedPress report dated April 28, 2011, citing Sprint-Nextel,
While the ‘going green’factor appeals to a smallsegment, studies have shownthat customers are moreinterested in savings or achance to win free services.

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