by Olsson Center staff
A major U.S. bank announces new fees for checking accounts and customers revolt. Many opt to close their accounts and take their business to competitors. A popular mail movie rental service changes its strategy much to its faithful customers’ chagrin. In both instances, social media and traditional media provide a forum for customers to express their discontent. Each company decides to back down, at least in part due to the protests.
As consumers are becoming more educated they are engaging more with the companies with which they do business. This is especially true with educated millennial generation who choose to support more socially conscious companies. Consumers expect products to be tailored to their tastes and expecting companies to be accountable.
There are other places where we see changing stakeholder expectations impact how business gets done. Customers were used to the same 500 products in grocery stores for decades. With the advent of mass-produced organic foods, many consumers demanded more selection from their grocery stores. We now have more choices for food than we ever had in the past. Customers have made it clear that they do not always take what is given to them, especially if someone else is willing to provide what they want.
We are also starting to see signs of a major shift in the wireless carrier market. Consumers have grown tired of the inflexible two-year contract plans, and some companies are changing their strategy to capitalize on this discontent.
Growing stakeholder demands and technology changes appear to be driving an increase in business accountability. Review websites like Angie’s List and Yelp give consumers a voice they never had before. Transparency, driven by the Internet, is changing how businesses operate. These changes add fuel to the idea that Stakeholder Theory has come into fruition, particularly for customers.