What is a consumer champion?
A “consumer champion” is the name given to an individual or organisation that speaks up for consumers and their rights.
But how do you see a consumer champion?
An advocate for the consumer?
Fighting for consumer rights, a consumer champion will help consumers get refunds and redress for faulty items and poor service. They may help individuals or advise in the media.
Consumer champions will often campaign for change in policies, laws and regulations to improve the experience for consumers. For example, organisations such as Money Saving Expert (MSE) and Which? are currently campaigning for new legislation to force large tech companies such as Facebook and Amazon to protect online users from scams and dangerous products sold on their sites.
An intermediary between you and your customer?
A consumer champion may work as a go between, negotiating between your business and your customer.
An inconvenience to you?
Some businesses may see a consumer champion as getting in the way, when they fight for the customer and want improvements. Some businesses will not listen to consumer champions or act on any of their advice, believing that only they know best.
Some businesses do see the advantages of working with a consumer champion.
For example I took Tesco to court in 2013 but when Dave Lewis became CEO of the group in 2014 I contacted him and over the next 6 years I still continued to criticize but also found common ground.
Tesco and I did reciprocal blogs, I visited the Head Office and had lunch with him and his executive team, he spoke about me in his financial reporting and more. I interviewed Matt Davies the UK CEO and Dave which was put on the Tesco YouTube channel. I put forward questions from customers in a win-win for Tesco and its customers.
What do consumer champions do?
If a consumer champion is well established and credible, they will:
- Empower consumers, providing information and advice through books, online, in social media and in the media.
- Respond to Government consultations such as responses to the Reforming Competition and Consumer Policy Consultation
- Campaign for changes in legislation such as Citizen Advice campaigning for changes to Universal Credit
- Support businesses in improving customer service through a variety of means such as being a member of the Board, supporting the celebration and recognition of customer service staff
- Undertake investigations such as my work in Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Which? regular investigations
- Be completely independent so they will not be paid for backlinks, guest articles, reviews or sponsored posts.
Consumer champion roles are various
Review sites could also be considered as a type of consumer champion. They allow customers to leave reviews on their experience of goods and services. They also provide a “right of reply” for businesses, allowing consumers to make an informed decision about a purchase. These are popular ways for people to research goods and services. The UK government is proposing changes to how review sites are regulated.
Review site examples:
- Google Local Guides,
- Patient Opinion
Consumer Expert examples:
- Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow, Martin Lewis, Simon Calder, Paul Lewis
- Various experts in the media
There are a number of resources that businesses can work with and use to champion the customer, such as:
- ceoemail.com, Citizens Advice, The Complaining Cow, Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)
- Newspaper consumer columns
- Consumer Forums
- Consumer Action Group
- Money Saving Expert
- TV Programmes that investigate and report on consumer issues, such as Dispatches, Panorama, Watchdog etc.
Advantages of working with a consumer champion
- Feedback on customer service performance. A consumer champion will be able to provide the unique perspectives of your customers.
- They will be able to show you ways to do things that work better for customers and therefore increase your sales.
- Consumer champions will be keeping abreast of trends and changes with topical issues. They will be able to provide information about consumer behaviour.
- Involving a consumer champion with your work can increase trust in your company and raise its profile.
- In the same way, it can be used to generate good publicity. For example, quoting a consumer champion in your press releases.
- Consumer champions will challenge your company and every stage of the customer journey. If you are open to this kind of challenge and the changes it could bring, it may benefit your company hugely.
How much do you read articles about/from or listen to consumer champions?
If you would like to know more about working with a consumer champion to increase the benefits to your company’s reputation, finances and also help vulnerable customers, thereby increasing your sales, please see below:
The Complaining Cow – free support for businesses
26/04/22 The Customer Journey – How to make Superfans one hour webinar with Becky Stevenson Business Consultant and Strategist and Helen Dewdney, Consumer Champion.
It takes 5 times as much to gain a new customer to retain one. So work on turning your customers into superfans who do much of the heavy lifting for you!
Join the Facebook Group Increase Sales through Customer Service: Compassion, Care and Integrity A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve customer service.
Free download Customer Service 5 ways to get rave reviews & referrals a few tweaks to your customer service can help you reduce the risk to your company’s reputation, finances and impact on customers and increase sales.
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