Nah, I’m not talking about Iron Man or some other Marval Comic super hero.  I’m talking about you as a consumer.  Your feedback to those places where you spend your money will largely determine your future experience with these same establishments.  


A bit of background:  I listen to a lot of people living or visiting here complaining.  They complain about the taxi drivers, the food venders, the airline they flew in on, and the hotels where they stay.  It seems as if a conversation isn’t complete unless a large part of the conversation is spent complaining.  Yet, when I ask this simple question I’ll almost always get the same look.  The question:  “What did you do about it?”


Oh my, that connotes that you as the consumer actually has some responsibility in how you’re treated.  The dreaded R word is one no one wants to hear.  Yet, it’s unavoidable if you really expect any type of improvement.  You as a consumer need to be actively engaged, plugged in if you will, to the consumer network on every level.  This isn’t much different than your responsibility as a citizen of your own country concerning politics. What, you don’t have much to do with politics?  You don’t vote?  You don’t write letters to your representatives?  Shame on you.  How will things ever change if your politicians never know exactly how strongly you feel about certain issues?   And how will the people you do business with ever know how important certain issues are to you if you don’t tell them?


Example:  I have a new favorite place to enjoy lunch.  They have great food, reasonable prices, free wifi, and it’s a very comfortable place.  I go there to eat, check my email, read, and generally have a relaxing time.  One day I go there and the music is cranked up.  Not the way music normally gets cranked up in Thailand, but still it was loud enough to be distracting.  I looked around and I was the only customer.  It was the employees who were enjoying the music.  Personally I think it’s a bad idea to allow control of the sound system to your employees but that’s beside the point. 


What did I do?  Did I sit there and become more annoyed never to return again?  No.  I have a type of investment in this place as a consumer.  I’ve been there many times and want to go back many more.  I had to exercise my responsibility as a consumer.  Even when I knew the employees would be annoyed with me.  I asked to speak to the manager and when she came I asked a simple question:  “Do you appreciate my patronage?”  She said she did, she listened to my feedback, and I’ve never had the problem again.  Sometimes the employees will even politely ask if the music is too loud.  Yes, this happened in Thailand, the land of lost hearing.


Another example:  I had a great experience at a computer shop.  I could have walked out and not said a word.  But I had such a good experience I envisioned myself going back again.  So I took a minute and asked to speak with the manager and I thanked him for making my shopping experience so great and I let him know I’d be coming back because of it.


Sometimes it’s a major PIA to get through to someone at the right level.  Do you know I have the personal mobile phone number of the President of NEC Thailand?  I couldn’t get any of the lower level employees to understand how I expected to be treated as a customer who spends a large amount of money.  A few days, many emails, and several phone calls to NEC Japan and America had the situation straightened out.  No, I didn’t want to go through the hassle.  But I wanted a local NEC dealer that I enjoyed doing business with. 


My guess, is if we as consumers put as much time and energy into providing feedback as we do complaining, we’d end up having a lot less to complain about.  What do you think?


Until next time..