Always have, always will. After a really bad experience with customer service, I felt the need to write a post about how much power the consumer has nowadays (I’ll reserve some of the seething snark that I spewed there). We have so many different channels for publicly praising or criticizing a company (or contributing to its success), and yet some companies seem content to use these same channels to promote themselves without listening.
Here’s the great news: we’re moving towards an economy that resembles a sort of social ecosystem where companies provide products or services that improve through the feedback of the customers who benefit them. If your primary market is the public consumer, this means you. Whether you make candy, sell houses or rent cars, you can do it better, and instead of trying to improve in a vacuum, or by using a competitor as your benchmark you can go straight to the people who actually use your product and learn from them. At the risk of seeming like some “aw, shucks” kid from a Frank Capra movie, isn’t everything better when we work together? Companies, do we need to have a talk about what can happen when we assume what people want/need? (*cough* CRYSTAL PEPSI *cough cough* NEW COKE *cough cough cough*) I didn’t think so.
The essential component of conversation (two-way communication) is now becoming a part of the business landscape, whether you like it or not. The ability to adapt to this shift is essential. I’m not proposing that you let everything be dictated by people outside of the company; I’m merely suggesting that consumers be let in. After all, they’re already out there talking, aren’t they?