During 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:
- 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.
- 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).