Consumer is King, Believe It or Not. Now Act Like One

Ever heard the line “Consumer is the king”? When I was growing up and was in middle school, I saw my dad’s company slogan on his car. It said “Customer First”.

This leads to my early childhood belief that big companies do think about their customers and are not solely engaged in profit making. Now, in my late mid-thirties, I better understand the dynamics of corporate world. It’s about balance between keeping customer satisfied and increasing profit.

Those top 1% income earners get paid for doing just that, managing money and resources to keep customers and shareholders happy.

You might tend to think they are more tilted towards shareholders, and you are right because shareholders are the bosses. We tend to agree to with our boss’s demands. Company executives are bound to listen to shareholders first. Nevertheless, if customers are not satisfied, in no time the shareholders would also become dissatisfied.

Look what happened to Netflix. Millions of their old trusted customers started fleeing. (don’t forget to check my post on why you shouldn’t use Netflix and Netflix vs. Blockbuster movie pass). This reaction of rebellion from the customers led Netflix to reverse some of the decisions and the CEO was forced to take a cut in his stock options.

Consider this recent Forsee consumer satisfaction survey of online retailers. I am not surprised to see Netflix at the receiving end with biggest decrease in customer confidence.

I tend to believe that my Netflix posts (which receive a sizable Google search traffic) fueled an    exodus of customers from Netflix as well. Now, have a look at this snapshot of a customer satisfaction survey. No doubt, Amazon is at the top.

So far, I have bought numerous items through Amazon, from DVD’s to a living room table. My Amazon experiences have been very positive.    I never experienced poor customer service and the prices were reasonable.

On the other hand, I see companies like local cable operators (including Comcast and Time Warner, which I used in past) or a few cell phone companies (like AT&T), who always tried to get more money out of my pocket. What eventually happened was a discontinuation of service.

Realize that you are the king

A few years ago, there were public protests against Wal-Mart when they stopped selling certain brand products. Wal-Mart eventually gave in and restocked those items. Just a couple of months back, Bank of America reversed the $5 ATM transaction fee, giving in to the huge outcry. Then the Verizon $2 online payment fee! Consumers didn’t take more than a few hours to make them realize the wrong decision.

Now, if the consumer wants to be treated like a king they should act like one.  The consumer should voice their likes and dislikes. The consumer now has a collective voice, thanks to the social media and a relatively easier access to mainstream media. A customer or a group of customers can raise their voice and have them heard by organizations globally pretty easily these days.

Consumers, unless you express your discontent, nobody, including the shareholders will take notice  of your annoyance. The top 1%, executives, won’t even feel the need to satisfy the shareholders. Guess who suffers at the end!

How to lodge a consumer complaint

You don’t have to occupy a certain place in your city; you don’t have to demonstrate on street at all, you can register your unhappiness, your annoyance or your protests from your living room.  Do you know how ForSee came up with the satisfaction level of online retailers?

It’s the surveys that were conducted online and the people answered them sitting in their living room. Don’t worry if you do not have access to a survey. There are research agencies that are fed with consumer complaints received by various third-party/volunteer registrars. These agencies then produce white papers, reports, charts and trends which are then consumed by media.

Your complaint would definitely find its way to become a data in a survey for sure, at the minimum. You should lodge complaints and state the facts with your true knowledge and understanding.

The following are a  few places where you can lodge your complaints, Federal Trade Commission,  Consumer Complaints AgencyBetter Business,, Consumer Affairs.

If you are a blogger, you can always write about your discontent and dissatisfaction, can’t you? Then promote it via Twitter and other social media. Believe me, if your tweet has spice in it, in no time it reaches editorial boards across media organizations. Here’s one good resource on how to use twitter.

Before lodging complain, give negotiation a chance

Everyone deserves a second chance. I always give the provider/seller a second chance with the hope that they will learn from their mistakes. Before you lodge your complaint or raise your voice to  the outside world, provide the business with another chance to provide you with better treatment or a better product.

Contact them via every outlet possible and make your points clear. If the business fails the second time, it will only add more meat to your complaint.

Don’t forget good feedback

If you are happy with the way you are treated by a business, praise them in whatever way possible. I recently wrote an article about a good customer service at Chase. Unless we as consumers don’t encourage good business practices, there are   no guarantees  that it will continue.

Often positive words about a business are used as a source of advertisement; everybody loves positive word-of-mouth advertisement. You may also receive some preferential treatment in return for your opinion.

Good words going around for a particular business makes its competitors take a note and make them improve their own business practices. Who wins? It’s you, the consumers.

Be judicious, know your powers and demand what you should deserve. At the end, you are the king!

P.S. I received an email which asked a question, whether the word ‘king’ is sexist. No. It is not. Replace it with ‘queen’ if you like, ‘king’ was just a paraphrase I used.

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  1. says

    I love the fact that consumers have the collective voice in the industry – that the retailers actually have to fear whether someone’s an online ‘somebody’ who can influences hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people with just one disgruntled chuff. I mean, the most recent example of this is Ocean Marketing, but the reasons to have good customer recovery measures in place is growing because of social media.

  2. Monica says

    You are absolutely right that consumers have more of a voice, and are willing to express displeasure when given poor customer service.Most companies are taking notice, and are working on improving their customer experience. However, I can think of several companies who still have terrible customer service: AT&T, Comcast, and DirectTv. Wish they would get a clue!

    • says

      I am still sticking to AT&T. I didn’t have bad experience with AT&T yet, though. I have read reports about their customer service, not very best of class service.

  3. says

    As a consumer I know I have powers, but it goes only so far. I hate TicketMasters convenience fee to print tickets on my printer! They give ripoff a new meaning! Nothing much I can do here but hope they meet their Netflix someday like Blockbuster did!

    Ok, I know Netflix has been taking a lot of flak lately, but I still prefer them over Blockbuster and their crazy fees!

    • says

      It’s actually Ticketmaster revenue model, without this fee they don’t survive. You can always book the ticket on face value from event host’s site.

    • Monica says

      Oh, good call, I hate Ticketmaster too! And what is with the prices of concerts and shows anyway? I would go to them if it didn’t cost me hundreds of dollars.

  4. says

    Companies only work on customer experience if it is profitable, that’s the way I see it anyway! If they can cut customer care and still make the same profit they absolutely would!

    As for consumer power it is showing it can work with the recent GoDaddy and Bank of America stuff :).

  5. says

    The internet and social media has made it easy to voice your power. I was never shy before the current wave, by writing letters, calling or in store confrontation to get what I want. Now social media can change policy. I love it!

  6. says

    As a customer of your blog, I humbly request that you change your social sharing icons at the bottom of the post. There are too many and they are too small; it took me four tries to find the Twitter button so I could retweet this great post. I then had to manually edit the tweet because it did not even include your Twitter username nor the title of the post! :)

  7. Winn @ Stock Income Method says

    Companies are working on customer experience because most of us when we shop online, we rely on customer review of the product so much that if a item has negative feedback we tend to back off from it! The internet provided us to shop around and compare price easily, customer service is a major decision maker.

    • says

      Online reviews are definitely playing bigger role these days. Also its now easier to mobilize your opinion through social media.

  8. says

    Like your logo. :-)
    Yes, consumer is the king. However, let’s not forget that we still need to be nice. Just because we feel so… royal,it does not give us power to be obnoxious and abuse our power.

  9. says

    Without customers, businesses would fail. There comes a point when their product or service is offering is so good – or they have so few competitors – that they can get away with stuff for the short term. But if they’re smart, they’ll listen to legitimate complaints and take action.

    It’s important to recognize our power as consumers. Not abuse the power though, as people who complain to take advantage of others are different. But once second chances have been given as you suggest, it’s ok to complain.

  10. says

    Over the past few years I’ve worked myself into a place where I’m not afraid to speak up as a consumer when I see something wrong. Like when ATT wanted to charge me a fee just to continue to be their customer for another two years. Got that one removed. The Internet certainly empowers us to speak louder than ever.

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