Becoming An Empowered Consumer

By: Lora J Adrianse

How many times have you said to yourself…"I just wish that company would treat me like they appreciated my business!"?

For many years I trained Customer Service Reps at a large corporation. There is no doubt that it was during those years I personally became a consumer with rather high standards and expectations. It was also during that time that I realized my only point of power (as a consumer) was to take my business elsewhere if I didn't get the treatment I deserved. While it may not sound like much, take a minute and add it up!

How much do you spend at your grocery store in a year?

How much do you spend at your local gas station in a year?

How much do you spend at your Dr.'s office in a year (make sure to include what your insurance pays)?

Are you surprised?

Whether we consciously think about it or not, we are all consumers of companies and businesses who profit because we choose to do business with them.

The key word here is "choose", and we'll talk about that later.

Some of the smallest businesses do a fabulous job teaching their employees how to treat their customers. Maybe it's the place you stop for coffee on the way to work in the morning. You go in, the coffee is hot and fresh, it's neat and tidy, the cashier has a big smile (even if it's really busy), and they even take the time to thank you for your business.

Then there are some of the larger companies (not all). They have mission, vision and values statements on the walls. In the employee lounge area there are posters that say something about their commitment to quality and service. Yet, when you reach the customer service or check out person, they appear lifeless…no enthusiasm, no eye contact, and virtually no acknowledgement…and god help you if you inconvenience them by asking for an explanation or a price check.

Decide right now to become an empowered consumer and give your business to those who treat you like they appreciate your business. Here's a strategy to get you there:

  1. Create a list of all the places you do business. Don't forget to include subscriptions, financial institutions, and even your handyman.

  2. Next, rate your satisfaction with each business on your list (5= Very Satisfied - 1= Not Satisfied).

  3. Review your ratings.

  4. If there are ratings of 1 or 2, take your business elsewhere…immediately.

  5. Businesses you rated 3 should be considered in the danger zone. If you choose to stay with them, at least give them some feedback on what they can do to improve. Review them again in 6 months.

  6. Repeat the process annually.

My point…you deserve to be treated with respect and appreciation, and you have a CHOICE! If you exercise that choice, you serve us all as consumers. Don't settle for less!

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