The power of one voice can make enough waves to disrupt any business foundation, especially when that voice is heard all over the Internet. Consumers are slowly starting to show their hand to big businesses and it is leaving business owners quaking in their boots!
A recent report from Reuters has spotlighted one of the millions of unsatisfied consumers that have taken it upon themselves to stand up and say something about outrageous business practices. Twenty-two year old Molly Katchpole is a Washington D.C. resident who knows how to practice her First Amendment Rights as she sits at her computer and connects to the Internet to share her disapproval in certain business practices.
She and countless other consumers across the globe have been utilizing social media like Internet sites and blogs to express their dissatisfaction, and it works. These disgruntled individuals make their opinions very clear by starting small fires on the Internet with petitions and postings that receive a wide and powerful audience. These petitions and postings become viral within moments after being posted and the last thing businesses want to see online or read in the newspapers is negative feedback, and so they buckle.
Katchpole talks about some of her online engagements and says, “My Verizon petition was only up for about eight hours before they backed down.” Having only graduated from Roger Williams University this past spring, Katchpole has already led the charge against a number of “unfair” business practices, including the Verizon Wireless two dollar surcharge for, “the convenience of paying bills by phone or online.” Katchpole posted a complaint on a website called Change.org and within hours the posting had received one hundred thousand hits.
Businesses like Verizon Wireless and Bank of America have been no match for Katchpole, who has organized petitions online that have put both companies in their place with consumer complaints. The power of the consumer is a dangerous tool that most companies have learned to respect and fear. Branding firm Ries&Ries president of Atlanta, Georgia, Laura Ries has made the statement, “Consumers have always had a voice, but now it’s louder and it spreads so quickly because of social media.”
Social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, are social networks that can get people talking about small things like Youtube posts to big issues like ridiculous business practices. Petitions have always carried a lot of pressure for businesses, and online petitions are deadly when they can reach hundreds of thousands in hours.
What’s more, rival businesses have taken notice of these petitions flying around on the Internet and have been using these same petition sites and complaint blogs to advertise for their companies. This strategy takes advantage of their competitor’s downfalls and is slowly converting new customers to their companies.
Big and small businesses alike need to remember that the customer is always right. If not, they will soon find themselves faced with media surges and outrageous petitions and statements of dissatisfaction from their once “loyal consumers.” Who knew the voice of the little guy could be so powerful?
Author Byll Monahan, 24, is a graduate from Cabrini College in Radnor, PA. He is glad to see social networkers using the Internet for something positive and glad to see the power of different people all working together to accomplish something important.