The old adage of “the house always wins” is a thing of the past. It’s no longer the case that consumerism comes at an inherent price for the individual that is always in favour of the business providing the product or service.
In no small way fueled by greater knowledge and insight on the consumer side, which has been enabled by an endless supply of information and connectivity from the world wide web, the consumer’s voice is less a factor and more a definitive decider if a business succeeds or fails.
And, it’s not only startups or smaller companies that need to heed the warning of the consumer, but also the large companies are forced to listen.
There is a word for this: consumer activism. Wikipedia describes it as a process in which individuals seek to influence the way goods or services are produced or delivered.
It is seen as a countermovement to globalisation and the adverse effects this brings along. Some might think that consumer activism is solely a generation Z and Millennial enterprise, but research has shown that also an older generation is taking part.
And being a consumer activist has become easier than ever, with social media used as an amplification channel forcing companies to respond. Consumers will also vote with their wallets. It has happened in the past, and it is still happening now.
If you look at financial institutions and their history, you will describe a rather seclusive and privileged industry steeped in tradition. “Money makes money” is the motto that counts, which also means that it used to be next to impossible to start a new bank, for example. Until a few years ago there was the bank’s way or the highway.
Only if you have significant funds, you will get ahead of the queue, and you could sidestep standard practices. This led to an internal focus that wasn’t consumer-focused, to say the least. Nowadays, with financial tech (fintech) companies breaking the mould, the emphasis has been put back towards the client. App-based banking with everything focused on customer service has gotten all the traditional banks scrambling to catch up.
The same goes for mobile telephony operators. The very first mobile phone contracts would work on a “use it or lose it” principle, where you would lose the minutes and text allowance you paid for if you didn’t use it in the same month of allocation, the industry is now moving towards principles of fair usage model.
Allowing consumers to rollover minutes and data, or just offering additional services that add value to the consumer is now standard practice. Roaming control is a massive factor in this is an area as a business you can side with your customer to provide maximum value.
Understanding that a mobile phone is so much more than just a device to call and text with, but a critical device that enables consumers to live their lives the way they want it puts communications providers in a pivotal role. Taking control of that responsibility, embracing IPX thinking and framing the business as a responsibility will see communications providers lead industries in many years to come.