March 22, 2011


Unhappy customer
What if your dissatisfied customers could fight back?

They can. They have the tools to create and share content. They might even catch the attention of the media and politicians. And drown out good news about your company.


Here's an example: Internet access. In the US, all monthly plans provide at least  250 GB of data (often unlimited) but in Canada penalties start at a measly 40 GB (see the Globe & Mail). US plans are also cheaper.

Whatever the explanation, the optics look bad.

Internet access has become a necessity — much like electricity and water. Canadians are the world's heaviest users but pay heavily for relatively slow access and low usage caps. This combination makes Internet providers profitable. There's no real competition to spur progress.

Consumers are fighting back. Over 471,374 have signed a petition asking for unmetered Internet access.


The current battle is with the phone companies but cable is hardly immune. You can watch cable TV 24/7 but not their competitor, Netflix. Internet caps get in the way. Watch this video.
When Hitler looks like a hero, you've got a PR problem. By the way, Fortune named Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, 2010 Businessperson of the Year.

The iPhone vs AT&T

Intermediaries have a tough time. We're generally ambivalent about
  • which brand of gas goes into our tanks
  • which home phone company
  • which mobile phone network
  • which TV provider (satellite or cable)
Yet we're upset when we don't get the service we expect.

Incentives like air miles may affect behaviour. One provider may have an exclusive (e.g., Bruce Springsteen's E Street Radio was only on Sirius satellite radio).

Look at the iPhone/AT&T issue (an interesting read). Apple offered capabilities that buyers wanted and AT&T couldn't deliver. There's no reward for trying.

Who Rules?

You may not react to consumer outrage but that doesn't mean you've won. If your clients stay because they have no other choice, that's hardly a long term win/win.

If you're an intermediary, how can you WOW! your customers? Even if you don't have to do this (yet).


PS If your customers rebelled, do you have a way to make your voice heard?

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