“Don’t worry, Customer Disruption is Upon Us”

Imagine you’re on the phone speaking to a cable company representative trying to cancel your service. Midway through the call, you realize how terrible your experience is going so you decide to record it. Perhaps to play it back to your friends in the event that you can’t find the words to describe the experience. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Ryan Block the Gdgt founder and AOL Vice President of Product. Now, for those of you that haven’t heard this story, there is amnesty for you. You can still check out the viral recording. The point of this exercise is to illustrate how the dynamics of business customer relationships are forever changing, and with those changes, customers are becoming more empowered to be disruptors. Long have we focused on industry disruptors like Apple and Tesla. I recommend checking out the 2014 CNBC Disruptor 50 for a solid list of industry disruptors. These companies are forcing their competitors to change business strategies and scramble to find new ways to compete. A consequence of these restructures is companies begin to focus more on how they can differentiate themselves from their competitors and win out new business rather than focusing on how they can positively engage with their customers. It becomes more about what feature they can add here and new pricing packaging they add there to be more competitive. However, what often goes unnoticed by brands is recognition of the digital age we are living in — where consumers are the empowered beneficiaries of these rapid technology advancements.

Consumers today have smart phones, tablets, notebooks, 4G LTE and quick access to information. We have all become disruptors because we can quickly manipulate public opinion with two clicks; one for record and the other for share. Like Ryan Block, consumers share their experiences with brands on social media and review boards like Yelp and G2Crowd. Often times, as marketers, we forget that we are also consumers. We look at metrics, CTR% and ROI to gage success of campaigns and soon realize the companies that win in the end aren’t the companies that are focused on just the bottom line, but focused on positively engaging with their customers and giving them what they want. Focusing on customer engagements that foster superior customer experiences make for loyal customers. Consider these two examples of companies who understand customers are the disruptors.


With 27 million subscribers in the U.S. and 33 million worldwide, Netflix goes down in the record books as the first non-network to win an Emmy award for it’s original series “House of Cards”, in the category of Best Directing last year. It’s amazing to consider the evolution of this streaming service. This year, they are disrupting the television industry even further with an outstanding 31 Emmy nominations for “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.” How are they doing this? By applying customer intelligence (CI) to big data and giving viewers what they want. The New York Times echoed this sentiment when they ran a story “Giving Viewers What they Want.” In the article, Jonathan Friedland, chief communications officer for Netflix, shared why the company has been so successful. “Because we have a direct relationship with consumers, we know what people like to watch and that helps us understand how big the interest is going to be for a given show. It gave us some confidence that we could find an audience for a show like ‘House of Cards.’”


Amazon arguably has risen to the rank of disrupter by providing customers with superior customer service. Rated #1 in the National Retail Federation Customers’ Choice Awards, Amazon gives their customers what they want across many channels. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos recently stated, “If you’re customer focused, you’re always waking up wondering, how can we make that customer say, wow? We want to impress our customer- we want them to say, wow. That kind of divine discontent comes from observing customers and noticing that things can always be better.” (Geekwire) Customers are having conversations about your brand and buyers have more power now than ever before. With online reviews and mobile web access, your customers likely know more about your products and services, your pricing (and that of your competitors) than you do. As customers become more active on social media in this new era of customer disruption, brands need to discover unique ways to positively engage with consumers to foster brand loyalty. Those who don’t will be left behind.

Welcome to the Age of Customer Disruption!

If you’d like to learn more about customer engagement, be sure to connect with me!

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreramsey

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndreRamsey

Please leave comments here. I’d love to hear about others experience with customer disruption.

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