Consuming: The Vocal Consumer
A conscientious consumer is a vocal consumer. A vocal consumer voices their desires when purchasing products. If a product is unacceptable or outstanding, the vocal consumer voices their opinions.
Keys to Becoming a Vocal Consumer
The basic premise of the vocal consumer is the belief that most companies want customers to be satisfied with their products and services. In this super-competitive economy, business success relies on satisfied customers. Vocal consumers understand that companies want feedback on their products and are willing to give it -- both positive and negative. Conscientious-vocal consumers understand that their feedback is not limited to the function and features of the product but also includes the conduct and actions of the companies and countries that produce the product.
Rule 1: If you criticize bad products and services, you must also commend good products and services.
Companies want customer feedback both positive and negative. Thats how they improve their products and services. Assume they want your feedback and give it to them whenever possible. The smart (and ultimately successful) companies are listening.
Rule2: Tell someone who cares!
Sometimes its difficult to know who in a company is interested in your feedback. In face-to-face discussions, talk to the most senior person available. Managers generally care more than staff and owners care more than managers. Always voice your opinions (conscientious and otherwise) to anyone that will listen.
For maximum impact put your thoughts in writing and address the correspondence to a senior company official (start at the top). Written letters (signed letters, postcards, or email) are always the most influential method of communicating your ideas. When managers make decisions a stack of letters are always more influential than "somebody said."
Rule 3:Dont get mad, get even! (Its not personal.)
When communicating your criticism never let anger get in the way of your message. Anger will hurt your credibility and your message will not get heard. If your problem is a traditional consumer product problem, work with the customer service person to resolve it (be on the same team approach). Most customer service people can exercise a great deal of discretion when dealing with customer problems and angry customers seldom benefit from it.
When thinking about creating a personal boycott, carefully think through the personal boycott steps. And remember the written word is more influential than the spoken word.