Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Maggie O'Neill.
As we all come back to our desks and start to think about business in 2012, it’s the 2011 whiplash from large company about-faces that has me thinking. In 2011, the power of the consumer went from “consumer as king” to consumer as the king, CEO, prime minister and more. From Verizon’s most recent U-turn on online charges to Bank of America’s drop of a $5 debit card fee to Netflix’s new company, ha just kidding emails, this has been the year consumers fought back…and won.
Verizon, the most recent example, was the quickest turn-around of all of them in late December. The company decided to charge customers $2 for phone and online payments, hoping to push for more auto payments. It didn’t work and customers walked…and walked loudly. And Verizon changed their minds almost immediately.
So what does this say about companies trying to make smart business decisions in 2012. Looking at what seems like short-minded decisions by these large companies in 2011, it’s obvious that there was a business goal behind them. Some more obvious than others. But who was looking out for the customer? Did they all really think that their service or product was not a commodity in today’s over-commoditized world? A place where a loyal consumer can just sign-off with one click and be lost forever to a competitor?
Also, with all of the listening tools out there, all of the open consumer platforms and all of the noise consumers made with each of the prior company decisions, didn’t someone think about the backlash? Couldn’t each of these decisions have been based more on what consumers were clamoring for – and what they would tolerate – rather than just what the company decided?
So what have we learned from 2011? Well the customer learned that they have more power to make change than they knew, and they will continue to do so unless companies pay more attention to customer service and what their base is saying. As for brand decision makers, we need to listen more, continue to respond quickly, and build business and campaigns with customers in mind first. As for the Verizons of the world, and the rest of us, consumers we can “hear you now.”