What Are Consumer Vigilantes?

by Jay Deragon on 02/24/2008

What Are Consumer Vigilantes?The March 3rd issue of Business Week the cover story is titled “Consumer Vigilantes” which addresses the power of the social web in revealing stories of both poor and good customer service.

The article says “For companies that don’t tend to their customers, the consequences can be dire. Consumers frustrated by the regular fix-it channels are increasingly employing vigilante tactics. Whether they’re making YouTube (GOOG) videos or posting account numbers on blogs filled with digital rants, more and more consumers are getting companies to respond on their terms. We tell the story of Paul English, one of the original consumer vigilantes, whose Web site Gethuman.com cracked the code for circumventing the call center and helping consumers everywhere get to a real live human being. Finally, we check in with blogger Jeff Jarvis, who famously took Dell (DELL) to task for its service on his blog BuzzMachine. He weighs in with a column on how companies can put all that online aggravation to work for them.”

Right across the page from the main article is a full page advertisement for “The Customer Collective“, another community run by our friends at Social Media Today, kudos to Robin and Jerry. The advertisement promotes the upcoming Webcast with Doc Searls and myself. The full article about “Consumer Vigilantes” is worthy of the read in that the primary message is that the social web empowers consumers to express dissatisfaction with any product/service, any company anywhere and from one to one to millions.

Has the Message Gone Mainstream?

Mark Kerrigan, a blogger at “The Communications Factor”, tells a story where he wrote a post complaining about Comcast and within 24 hours had a response from a customer service manager at Comcast who has subsequently engaged with Mark numerous times. Kudos to Comcast.

Micheal Orshan, a conversationalist on Facebook, has set up over 50 groups on Facebook titled ” Conversations on (name the top 50 brands)” with the aim of creating conversational rivers around both the good and bad experiences consumers have with these brands.

The Business Week article highlights the top 25 companies that have outstanding customer service support, as determined by the customer, and addresses how these companies have removed barriers so that customers can talk to real people and get their issues resolved.

So back to the question, “Has The Message Gone Mainstream?”. The answer to this question lies with the consumer however the heightened awareness the article by Business Week brings to both companies and consumers adds significant value to two fronts.

  1. The increasing power of the social web
  2. The need for companies to become more consumer friendly

The networking dynamic, both online and in the physical world, will fuel conversations sparked by the Business Week article. In a Feb 20th article in Business week titled “Social Media Will Change Your Business” the writers add more fuel to bring the message mainstream. Like any other media Business Week will gauge its subject matter relevance based on reader response rates. When readers, lots of them, respond then the media takes notice and continues to write stories relative to the subject matter that draws readers. If you haven’t noticed yet Business Week has been consistently writing stories relevant to the social web and the subsequent dynamics and issues. Kudos to Business Week.

So, if you want the message to stay mainstream then don’t stand on the sideline, jump in and write about the Business Week articles both in your blogs and respond to theirs online. Let the conversations continue to swell……..

What say you?

Image originated from Businessweek.com


Carter F Smith February 24, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Social Media -Will- Change Your Business! Businesses that capitalize on and thrive in The Relationship Economy will not use a business model that resembles that of a traditional business. The businesses that have been retrofitted for The Relationship Economy will have the basic building blocks of traditional business models, addressing their Infrastructure, Offering, Customers, and Finances, but there will be some highly unusual additions. When you think about a Relationship Economy business, think hybrid.


Jason Rakowski February 24, 2008 at 5:23 am

I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

Jason Rakowski

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