May 2013

The hidden substitution threat

Organisations constantly need to adapt to survive, and in today’s environment they often launch projects or products to seize opportunities or to respond to threats in their business environment.  A key question is “how can organisations establish which new projects, products, or opportunities they could consider focusing on?”   When faced with a dilemma like… 

Woman with megaphone shouting to a globe

Fix it before they tweet it

Woman with megaphone shouting to a globeIn the past, being a retail consumer may have felt like somewhat of a one-way street.  If a company wasted your time or delivered you with a poor experience, your options were limited.   You could complain (but would the company genuinely listen?) You could take legal action if the issue was severe enough (but do you really have the time and money to do that?) Or you could write to newspapers and consumer magazines.   If you’re anything like me, 15 years ago if you received poor service you probably just quietly switched to a competitor, and then told a few friends too.  If the organisation was large enough, it probably didn’t even notice you leaving – it carried on churning customers, probably unaware at the collateral damage created along the way.


Fast forward to today and things feel extremely different.  As a consumer, I’m able to compare prices and propositions far easier than ever before using online comparison technology like Google Shopping or LoveMoney.  Not only that, I can very quickly share my opinion about any product or service on any number of consumer forums or “gripe sites” that exist as well as letting hundreds of people know through social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc.


Quite sensibly, organisations of all sizes – whether large corporate or mid-size – are engaging with social media in a proactive way.  They are analysing sentiment and may even tap into social business intelligence.  All of this is extremely valuable, but I want to ask one question:


Why wait until a customer Tweets it before fixing issues?


I saw an exchange on Twitter recently from a customer and a budget hotel chain.  The exchange went something like this (I am paraphrasing, and have changed the names to protect the identities involved):