Marketers face a twofold challenge in dealing with the issues discussed on this article, First, they must increase their level of knowledge of the nature of the issues, and second they must design organizational elements to respond to the constitution effectively.
Understanding the Issues
Many marketers are not aware of the issues and just how unfavourable situations are perceived to be by some consumers. Business people usually cite the possible defensive positions regarding consumer protection issues: (1) the number and seriousness of consumer problems suffered by the general population is not significant (2) only a small, vocal minority of consumers complain about the problems they experience with products and services are resolved to the satisfaction of the consumer.
Data from a nationwide study of households do not support these contentions, however. Instead, there appears to be a need for the private sector to upgrade its complaint handling capabilities. For example, among households which initiated complaint action about their more serious complaint problems, over 40 per cent obtained unsatisfactory results. Additional evidence indicates that consumers and business people are not on the same wave length with regards to their perception of consumer problems. A report comparing opinions of executives and consumers on various consumer issues revealed several studies which showed much consistency and indicated a large number of consumers disagree with executives about various issues. For example, there is disagreement over the adequacy of current levels of product quality and safety. Moreover consumers lack confidence in advertising and look to government intervention to improve it. In addition there are wide variation in executives and consumers views regarding the adequacy of the product information, corporations for consumers, and the need for additional government regulations. Only 5 per cent of consumers think that American business is listening to them and striving to do its best. Almost one third think companies and executives are too greedy.
This suggests that business must educate the public about the operation of the marketing system the benefits of free enterprise and the limitations of government intervention. Business people also need to assess and modify their policies and practices in order to improve products and services offered to consumers.
Businesses clearly have a responsibility to help protect the rights of consumers. Some organizations have produced a bill of rights for their customers as illustrated in Table below for a television cable company. More business people are tiling consumerism seriously and addressing the issues on a systematic and continuing basis. In the past however, such action was not the first thing to occur when businesses were threatened with government regulations.
One recent study surveyed various corporate responses to consumerism. Overall, the results reflected a poor response to consumer needs.
1) Few corporations had coordinated programs of response to consumerism.
2) Most industrial manufacturers believed consumerism did not influence.
3) Many firms claimed to have always been consumer oriented so consequently, consumerism did not affect them. This seems to imply an apathetic attitude towards the movement.
4) Many firms where highly defensive about consumerism and viewed it as a battle between the seller and the buyer
An example of a Customer Bill of Rights
Our commitment to customer service has never been stronger and we are willing to guarantee it. As a customer of Louisiana Cable vision, this is what you may expect from us:
1) Prompt and courteous service will be provided by helpful and informed customer service sales, installation construction and technical personnel.
2) A No Risk Money Guarantee — wherein of for any reason you the customer are not completely satisfied within the first 30 days of service just call us within those 30 days. We’ll disconnect your service and refund all of your money no questions.
3) You will receive a reliable and high quality television signal.
Source: Consumer Behavior