We’re in the midst of an economic shift — one where the consumer has become the focal point of the product and/or service. An economy where innovation plays a central role and is built by and for the consumer. Take the examples of Uber, Airbnb and/or Zipcar — where the incumbent industry standard lacks price transparency, gives little value for money and due to few alternatives, consumers are frustrated into booking a service that they’re unhappy with. Why? “Because that’s the way things are done”.

Let it be clear that these aren’t the way things are done. Requesting sympathy would be the same as the music industry scrutinizing services, such as, Spotify. The internet of things, has helped democratize information more than anything else. For those of you old enough, do you remember the amount of money spent on physical albums? What about the corresponding Discman players? Music was an expensive hobby. Only partially due to the higher physical distribution costs and/or production costs of the actual compact disc. But beyond these obvious differences, due to the lack of transparency, we as consumers can no-longer justify the differences between that and the introduction of the MP3. Moreover, the music industry was extremely inflexible with this change. Think back to the days of Napster. I can’t help but think how the brothers Fanning must feel about their sentence, when looking at all the streaming services today. It would’ve been easier to work with the change, rather than to make an example of it. The likes of Spotify have proven this. But yet again, this innovation came from a frustrated consumer and not from an incumbent keeping up.

Let’s have a look at the likes of Airbnb and/or Netflix. Two prime examples of the above illustrated point. The internet has not only democratized information, but has also rapidly and grandly changed the behavior and expectation of consumers. We live in an economy where ‘customer experience’ has gone from a topic you speak about during an annual shareholders conference to something that lies at the core of your everyday experience. We’ve become demanding consumers, that require more transparency, lower costs and a higher service experience. Moreover, we judge our experience on these very same criteria. So it only seems natural that every organization should strive to continually optimize the ‘customer experience’ on a daily basis. Netflix is single handedly changing the way film content is being distributed, consumed and produced. Not because the industry demanded it, but because consumers have started changing their consumption patterns. Similarly Airbnb is yet another example of an organization that has developed a service that should have long-already existed; a simple supply meets demand, as opposed to a “this works, why would I change it” attitude.

So, where am I going with all of this? Such erratic circumstances, require new blood, new employees, new management and new ideas. It requires that consumers stand up and take the same ‘this has to work’ attitude. When organizations like Uber are scrutinized by local authorities (I come from Amsterdam) for their introduction of unfair competition, our response should be that of reaffirmation. Let’s stand behind and support products that provide a more efficient service. An organization, such as, Uber should consider efforts that bring together the new generation of travellers. Engage and encourage their audience with stories that remind them that Uber has helped build and mobilize careers. Whether that may have helped a driver who was out of work, or helped the next junior in line, to reach his interview or meeting on time in an affordable and relaxed fashion. Let’s focus on the daily impact that companies like these make, and push them forward. Let the stories speak for themselves. Let the stories reaffirm the consumer’s opinion. Let the consumer do the shouting that they deserve.

Let us be the ones building the world of consumers! Let’s stand behind and support products that provide a more efficient service.

This was inspired by a real-life story of a colleague who ordered an Uber from the Airport. After taking a toll-road unnecessarily (without the permission of the passenger), Uber immediately followed-up the ride home, with an e-mail that stated this was not supposed to happen. As an apology the entire journey was refunded. The difference that this road choice caused was a total of maybe €2 on a €15 trip. Transparency. A cornerstone of the customer experience that has been lost by the incumbents of every market. Let’s not just sit here and watch from the side-lines. Let’s encourage this.