Customer Experience and Balance of Power

Social Media protestDuring the last few years we witnessed tremendous political impact of social media on politics, both in  government and corporate realms. The examples abound from the social media fuelled Arab Spring demonstrations and political campaign funds collections, to the well publicized resignations of corporate leaders.

The role of social media protests focused on removal of specific individuals from their positions is somewhat troubling. It brings distant and horrifying memories of lynch mob parties and witch hunts. The fact that today’s victims are not physically harmed and cannot see the faces of their tormentors, does not make this practice fair or progressive. However, these protests were very effective in achieving their goals so far.

I wonder if this approach would also be as effective in compelling businesses to treat their customers better. Organizations and agencies that are charged to protect consumer interests are not doing a very good job for variety of reasons. Imagine Comcast customers start to protest the proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable via a heated social media campaign. There are two reasons why the customers, and consumers at large, would consider to join such protest:

  1. If this proposal is accepted by the government agencies considering it, Comcast will be allowed to control both what content their customers consume AND how they get to consume it.
  2. Some consider Comcast to be the worst company in America.

I am not sure how this title was “awarded” to Comcast and don’t vouch for accuracy of the process that reported this distinction, but according to 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings, the TV Service Providers are firmly on the bottom of the poll as a group. Our own measurements produced Comcast social NPS® ratings below the Time Warner’s that are not particularly high either. However, this article is not about Comcast – it is about effectiveness of a social media protest and its potential application to consumer rights. If you are a lucky person who did not have a personal customer experience with the US cable companies you may want to see this video



Customers have been flooding social media sites with their complains about Comcast for years. Yet, the government has consistently allowed  them to acquire competitors that may have provided comparatively better experiences to their customers.

It appears that protests against faceless corporations do not produce the desired effect – provide better customer experience or let others do it. What will happen when consumer rights’ activists learn to become more effective by targeting specific politicians of the Senate Judiciary Committee, or other such agencies, who vote to allow a specific corporate merger that is detrimental to customer experience?

When and if this happens, the first political demotion or resignation will signal to businesses that their customers are not their assets, to be acquired or sold, they are the stakeholders and should be treated as such.

Social NPS® is an algorithmic estimate of customers response to the question – “On the scale of 0-10, how likely would you recommend this product to a friend or a colleague?”. It is produced by applying Opinion Mining technology to online CGC (customer generated content).

NPS, Net Promoter, and Net Promoter Score are registered trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld.
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8 Responses to Customer Experience and Balance of Power

  1. Rob Jackson says:

    @Gregory. Enjoyed your blog post! It will be interesting to see if social networks mount an offensive to block the Comcast, Time Warner merger. Consumers shouldn’t expect the quality of customer service to improve. We track the customer service quality of nine different Communications companies including Comcast and Time Warner, and Comcast ranks at the bottom in almost every category.

    Love the Amy Schumer video!

  2. Bawa Grover says:

    Interesting post Gregory. You do raise some fundamental questions that regulators and M&A analysts and buyers/sellers could do well, to factor into the M&A permissions & valuations, i.e correlation of CX with business profitability and long term business success. In other words business valuations should now also factor in CX scores & customer perception scores, which I Know your SAAS software & CX measurement tool, so adroitly measures. Warm regards, Bawa

  3. Gregory says:

    Thank you Rob. Glad you liked it. I wonder which communication company comes on top in Service Quality in your surveys? In our analysis of on-line reviews the quality of customer service is just one of the attributes of customer experience. We detect that the Comcast customers hate the billing experience even more than the service/tech support.

    Good comedy is not only funny, but also prophetic. This video illustrates how company that provides horrible experience “kills” customers AND employees.

  4. Gregory says:

    @Bawa – I’m glad this point resonates with you. There are some interesting works that connect Customer Experience to profitability and therefore valuations of companies. However, many business leaders forget that “there is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer.” – Peter Drucker. Today’s leaders like to use the term “customer acquisition” that betrays their fundamental flaw – they do not see customers and employees as the stakeholders. This approach is unsustainable and the CX measurements, obtained independently, can serve as proverbial canary in the mine.

  5. Christine Crandell says:

    Interesting article. While social media does impact how companies behave, voting with your wallet is a more effective way for customers to force a brand to change. Assuming the brand is listening at all.

    Change is hard for companies, especially customer experience. Many consultants will tell you that you only need to fix those few interactions that are broken; that is really bad advice because it doesn’t fix the root cause. Companies need to understand the lifecycle journey (and experience) that customers value. That provides context for prioritizing what to fix first. You might find that the first area to fix isn’t your call center’s ability to resolve questions on Twitter but rather the IT systems so everyone has access to a single version of the truth.

    Let’s abandon NPS scores and quick fixes and first invest in understanding the customer, through their eyes. You might find this article interesting on NPS

  6. Gregory says:

    Christine, you make an excellent point in your comment, and a few excellent ones in your article. However, IMO abandoning measurements (you do not seem to advocate the use of any alternative metrics to NPS) will not result in better customer experience. It is like abandoning scores in sports in favor of color commentary – each has it’s role in the process. In fact, I believe that properly applied metrics can help to create a “single” version of customer experience for all silos of an organization. I also agree that ethnography is the best method for obtaining a narrative of customer experience for the journey mapping, as you passionately expressed in your article. In fact, my company “mines” such analog narratives for algorithmic interpretation into metrics for organizational use.

    The important thing to remember that there is no one perfect tool for “fixing” holistic issue – that is what “experts” are famous for – “to a hammer everything looks like a nail”.

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