Both business and careers have become more cut-throat today than ever before. The information technology age and the disruption of constant change in the work place and business environment has made it difficult for some individuals and organisations to keep up with the ever increasing demands from a well-informed, financially capable and sta
ndard-critical customer/market. Businesses must keep abreast of changes in customer preferences, buying power and trends, in technology, in modes of communication and in their way of doing business in order for them to be in business. Business-unusual is the new norm if you have to thrive in any venture today.
Because of the tough business and professional environment, some organisations and individuals have turned to the worst of tactics to beat competition – mudslinging. This has always been a trend by the less creative entrepreneurs but in recent times the tendency has tripled to desperate heights – catalysed by the rampant use of social media and the wave of freedom of expression as well as product/service reviews. Individuals will not waste a minute before posting their experience of bad service on all social media platforms – with the message going viral in a few minutes and bringing the business to its knees from the comments and a flood of similar complaints. A product that does not meet its standard will receive similar publicity without much though or hesitation from the customers. Great as the response from the public might be or the creation of awareness of places or products to avoid, customers need to be extremely careful what they put out there about any organisation or individual. A few points to ponder on before hitting the send button on your WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever social media platform you subscribe to:
What are your Rights and Obligations as a Customer?
You are obliged by law and your conscience (at the very worst) to pay for the products and services that you purchase at the price agreed upon between yourself and the seller. In addition you must transact in a respectful manner at all times. It is your right to demand for the best from the seller/organisation and should communicate the same with utmost respect and humanity. It is your right to get angry at bad service and sub-standard products and must explicitly express your displeasure in the lack-thereof. However how you do it is also critical. If you have complained once or twice and have not received a satisfactory solution, then you can take it to the next level – either regulatory authorities or bodies that the business is answerable to on their standards. If there is no such platform and you have exhausted the channels of escalation with the organisation, then you can publicly give your reviews on their products and services.
Sometimes the mishaps almost look intentional and criminal – like an unwelcome creepy crawlies in your food, or molding on your favourite yoghurt or loaf of bread, and angry as you are expected to be in such a situation, have in mind that it could be a result of one of many reasons; carelessness, neglect, malice or sabotage by employees or competition or just
a genuine mistake. Most entrepreneurs go into business in order to provide solutions and even though employees and other people fall short of this vision, it was not the intention (most times) of the business to frustrate the customer. Hence the need to escalate the issue to the highest authority (if possible) before splashing it all over the social media. Be considerate also to the cost of damage to the business.
Authentic Vs Attention calling
Sometimes we are tempted to take out our bad-day experiences onto those nearest to us at that moment in a bid to either get attention or just vent out our frustrations. A bad day at home or the office could make the slightest of difference become a disastrous turn of events.
So whenever we raise complaints, we need to reassess our intentions – question our motives and drive as to whether it is genuine or we are just looking for an avenue to vent out or get some social media attention?
We also need to be very careful not to allow businesses to use us as their conduit to hit on their competitors. One business might incite you against their competition and use you knowingly or otherwise to malign the other business. Ensure your source of complaint is genuine and that it is not a tactic to fight competition.
Consequences of defamatory accusations
The law is clear in some countries on the consequences of defamatory accusations although in other legislation’s the penalties might vary according to the degree of damage or the authority determining the charge. Lately, the law is also very keen on persons who circulate defaming messages whether innocently or intentionally. The penalty of tho
se circulating the messages is more often higher than that of the author of the message. Hence your need to exercise a lot of caution before giving you opinion and comment on any social media platform.
Some messages are crafted in such a way that they arouse our anger even before we conclude reading them. Be careful before rushing to give your angered-opinion. If you really must comment, give yourself time to ascertain if it is true and whether your comment or forwarding will rectify the situation. Do remember also that not only is the law hawk eyed on such communication threads, but so are your potential clients, employers or employees.
Technology and the information age has greatly helped us get and share ideas and conversations within short periods. We get enlightened, educated and informed at the touch of a button. Likewise, we get misguided and misinformed in the same breadth. We need to be alert on what we pick out and determine whether it is helpful and necessary before consuming or sharing it. Consequences also await your every action, be sure it is something you are ready to stand up for if called upon.
To your success!