Customers need to know that there is a difference between "Speaking Up" and"Speaking Out" and knowing which one to do and when can be a difficult road to maneuver. Businesses also need to know the difference between the two and must work hard to keep their customers "speaking up" rather than "speaking out".
If you "SPEAK UP", you (as a customer) are sharing with a responsible party your concerns on an issue/situation of importance to you, in order for said party to be able to correct the issue/situation, before it gets out of hand or a becomes a larger problem than it may already be. We see businesses with 1-800 numbers, email addresses, or web links asking customers to "speak up". Some offer incentives like chances to win $$ or get a free item with your next purchase. The customer "speaks up" believing that the comments they share, positive or negative, will somehow impact that business for the better and that someone higher up is listening. The customer may also "speak up" at that moment, asking for a manager/supervisor, in order to remedy the situation more immediately.
But if a customer chooses to 'SPEAK OUT", you (as a customer) are saying that the concern you are raising goes beyond a typical (even reasonable) response from said party and that you feel the need to go outside the normal realm to voice your concern. The customer may still have contacted a manager/supervisor to address the issue right away but, for whatever reason, feels that they must "speak out" even more. Here is where the possibilities for the customer to be heard get endless. Not only can the customer use the 1-800 number, emails, web links to share their concern, but can also use other avenues to support one of the most basic principles of consumerism..."hit them where it counts...in the pocketbook (or profits)".
The customer has untold options to pursue when they make the decision to "SPEAK OUT" and this is what each business should fear and work hard to avoid. A business should never let a situation get out of hand and go beyond the "speaking up" level. Customers have the power to make or break (surely to bend) the will of a business. We have seen businesses "bend/break/retreat" when they try to insert their religious or political beliefs in their dealings with the consumer...we have also seen businesses completely "disappear" when they felt their were not at risk or did not have to listen or change with the consumer.
Do you remember these businesses below and their "iconic" logos? Some of these businesses were around for 50 to 100 years...some had hundreds, others thousands of stores, some of these stores provided a great service to their communities and customers, but something caused them to fail.
THREE THINGS BUSINESSES SHOULD ALWAYS REMEMBER: 1) if you take "good customer service" out of the equation...you will lose a "consistent" customer;2) if you take "corporate response/responsibility" out of the equation and force a customer to "speak up"...you will lose a "loyal" customer; and 3) forcing the customer to "speak out" due to the actions/in-actions of the business...your customer base will "stop growing".
Quite simply...a business will not fail if it has a consistent, loyal, and growing customer base. But will fail if one or more of these begin to dwindle.Businesses need to decide if they are going to work with a customer or against a customer when a concern/issue is raised. Making the right choice will decide that businesses future.
CUSTOMERS who choose to SPEAK OUT have the power to influence the future of a business. If you choose to SPEAK OUT, be sure to have the following on your side...TRUTH, FACTS, PROOF. You must be willing to continue the fight, but also have a willingness to compromise if the opportunity arises.
Here are some suggestions for customers to keep in mind when they choose to STAND UP and SPEAK OUT!
Facebook: Use your wall to speak out. Use your cover photo to speak out. Use groups and pages to speak out. Get your friends to do the same. Post your issue/concern on relevant pages. Use your alumni pages, your hometown pages, any page that you feel won't block or delete your message.
LinkedIN: Search your network to find for those employed by that particular business who should hear or be made aware of your concern. Send them a connection request and speak up. Go to groups (ones that are by business interest or by location) and speak out.
Better Business Bureau (BBB): File a complaint and express what you feel will resolve the issue. Search the database to find out if other complaints have been filed.
Government Related Pages: If a cleanliness issue, contact the local Health Department (as they do inspections of food establishments), or City Inspection (if you think the environment is unsafe or not up to code), or your elected officials (if you want to complain about licensing issues).
Credit Card Companies: If you paid with a credit card, contact their customer service and explain the situation, find out if you can dispute the charge when the business fails to provide the service or product.
And the final way to SPEAK OUT...don't ever GO BACK!! Not for a fundraiser(even if it is a good cause), not for a birthday celebration (even if it is a relative/close friend), not for any reason (stick to your decision), and at every opportunity SPEAK OUT and SHARE YOUR STORY.
DID YOU KNOW?
A&P Stores - 16,000 stores (peak) to 301 stores (today)
Arlan's Stores - 100 stores (peak) to 0 (today)
Dog N' Suds - 600 stores (peak) to 17 (today)
Woolworth Stores - 3000 stores (peak) to 0 (today)
Red Owl Stores - 441 stores (peak) - 0 (today)
Montgomery Ward - 600 stores (peak) - 0 (today)
Dutchland Dairy - 17 stores (peak) - 0 (today)
Zayres - 400 stores (peak) - 0 (today)
Gimbels - 53 stores (peak) - 0 (today)
Burger Chef - 1050 stores (peak) - 0 (today)