You Can’t Stop The Consumer Apocalypse, You Can Only Hope to Contain It


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The consumer apocalypse will not be televised…but it will be tweeted.

While terming the current transformation of more empowered, more emboldened consumers “apocalyptic” may be a little over the top, the speed and spread of it across the world is happening just as quickly and frighteningly as a zombie apocalypse for the businesses affected.

If the Hollywood interpretation of a global zombie invasion is to be believed, the transformation of ordinary humans to insatiable, flesh-feasting attackers would bring broad-scale panic and chaos to society. And according to how zombie tales normally unfold, the transformation begins suddenly and spreads very rapidly across the globe. To a customer contact center, this is akin to a social campaign or complaint gone viral. Just look at J.P. Morgan and their backfired #AskJPM campaign or Amy’s Baking Company’s overly aggressive social media response to their appearance on a restaurant reality show. Once it’s out there, you can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it.

Obviously, a consumer apocalypse would stop far short of an onslaught of the walking dead, but we all know the damage an angry social media mob can do to a company’s reputation.

Information and consumer access to it has shifted the scales of power from company to consumer. So in our always-on, uber-connected world, today’s consumers are demanding more from the companies they do business with, dictating engagement on their time and on their terms. They are fed up with being on hold and tired of having to repeat themselves to multiple people on multiple occasions and sometimes on multiple channels just to get an issue resolved. Empowered by the wealth of information delivered to and managed through their smart phones, consumers have decided to fight back. And a few enterprising companies are helping them. A new wave of applications and services are coming, almost zombie-like, into the customer service scene to do a disgruntled customer’s bidding for them. Here are just a few.

gripeoGripeO – A better way to complain

Let’s start with the appropriately named GripeO. GripeO aims to increase the visibility of a consumer complaint while motivating a customer service response from the targeted company. Complaints submitted to GripeO are taken right to the business to be addressed. Some of those companies are GripeO partners, while others will be contacted by GripeO on the consumer’s behalf. Look at them as contract complainers who will ratchet up the volume and visibility of the issue you have with a company until it gets resolved to your satisfaction – within reason, of course. If this service takes off, it won’t be long before “griping” takes on a life of its own.

CXproCXPro – The Customer Experience Professionals

CXPro bills itself as a customer experience consulting company specializing in both business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer experience consulting. The scope of work spans from in-store experience to mobile experience, as well online. How are they helping bring on the consumer apocalypse? CXPro also has @CXalert, a dedicated twitter feed that encourages people to tweet good or bad customer experiences so they can retweet and “create accountability for both great and poor service.” Unlike GripeO, CXPro’s intent is to create a shamestorm of sorts when bad customer service happens, which gives the company an opportunity to illustrate the need for their services to the company affected. But for the consumer, it provides additional volume to their issue and greater leverage to get a more favorable resolution. – Air your Views is like a Reddit for customer service. Through a dashboard divided into several different industries, users can submit, view and vote on customer experiences others have had with companies. But notes that the site is not a platform for slander. The company bills the site as a clever, economical, and cost-effective way for companies (who have subscribed), to monitor their business and customers. Those companies then have the opportunity to engage and respond to customers on the site. In other words, if you are not a corporate subscriber, you won’t be able to respond to the screamer who is angry that your company’s service technician never showed up to fix the cable.

The good news for those of us in the customer experience industry is that the consumer apocalypse doesn’t have to destroy us, we just have to starve it from what it feeds on: shame service. Reactionary service delivered purely to pull an angry customer off a public platform will only encourage more of them to do the same. This is why GripeO, and others are coming on to the scene. If we can create a service response that lets customer engage with us on their terms, provide information, and resolve issues over the channels they choose… if we can create an omni-channel experience where they can start an engagement on one channel and pick up exactly where they left off on another… the consumer zombies won’t feel the need to run to the digital megaphones and scare us into action.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tim Dreyer
Tim Dreyer, Director of Public Relations and Analyst Relations at Aspect, is a results-oriented manager with over 18 years of advertising, marketing communications and public relations and social media experience developing and implementing media programs, advertising strategy, and marketing programs. Tim's background includes a range of broad cross-functional experience and strong leadership.


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