Businesses Beware Of Consumer Activism

Businesses Beware Of Consumer Activism

What a cheek! You know the feeling. You go to a business and all you get for your hard-earned cash is poor service. Afterwards you realize you’ve wasted your time and your money. Your’e annoyed and irritated because you didn’t get what you expected. What do you do?

Some people go back to the business and complain. They tell the manager about the bad service and perhaps the business tries to rectify the problem by giving them their money back. That was what happened in the past but today things are very different.

The digital generation dislikes confrontation. They are connected with the world and their anger and disappointment is voiced through all the social media channels they have access to. Today, people don’t like to confront businesses about their bad service – they Facebook, Tweet, Foursquare, Instagram, Linkdin and Pinterest. If you are a business owner and you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about then you are in trouble.

You see, in the past people didn’t have these outlets for their frustration and they confronted a business directly. Today, by the time a customer has walked out of your shop they have told their average 3,000 connections almost immediately, and these social media interactions are having a much bigger impact than you might think.

A business has one chance to impress a customer. People don’t want to complain anymore in person because it takes too much effort. It’s much easier to bitch in 140 characters and press the send button. The result is almost immediate punishment for poor service. Whether you like it or not, this is the reality of today’s connected consumer.

Consumers have become much less tolerant of poor service. Time is valuable and most people have busy lives. They don’t have time to have protracted arguments with businesses about their service or to give them lessons in customer retention. Consumers give their money to business in good faith and expect good service. Nay, they demand good service.

Businesses that understand this and embrace this new reality actually benefit from it because they do what they are paid to do, give good service, the first time. They ensure that no customer leaves their premises if they’re not happy. They do it right the first time. The result is that they get the positive Tweets and the good social media comments. They get the mentions and 5-star ratings. They get new customers that read the raving reviews.

Here are some interesting facts about how Social Media affects purchasing decisions:

  • Consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.
  • 53% of consumers who said they use Twitter to recommend companies or products in their Tweets, 48% bought that product or service.
  • 15,100,000 consumers go to social media channels before making purchase decisions.
  • 49% of consumers use Facebook to search for restaurants.
  • 74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions.

The immediacy that Twitter offers has made it a firm favorite with consumers looking for fast responses to customer service queries.

Just today I walked out of a restaurant in a small town and before I reached my car all my friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, connections on Linkdin and followers on Foursquare had read about the good service I received. Many hundreds of people that will visit the town sometime in the future will see my commentary and it will influence their decision to go to that restaurant or not.

Businesses need to take their customers very seriously, much more so than in the past. The digital generation has a zero tolerance for poor service, and rightly so.

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European Union Hates South Africans

European Union Hates South Africans

When the European Union was formally established in 1993 when the Maastricht Treaty came into force no one could imagine how tough life would become for South Africans traveling to Europe.

The Schengen Area is the area comprising 26 European countries that have abolished passport and any other type of border control at their common borders, also referred to as internal borders. It mostly functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy. The Area is named after the Schengen Agreement. Countries in the Schengen Area have eliminated internal border controls with the other Schengen members, and strengthened external border controls with non-Schengen states.

Herein lies the rub. They have substantially strengthened external border controls for many countries that they deem undesirable. Unfortunately South Africans are also deemed undesirable and this is evidenced through the extremely painful and onerous process that South Africans have to go through to get a Schengen Visa.
With many thousands of South Africans traveling to the EU each year, spending millions of Euros one would think that South Africans would be welcomed with open arms in Europe. Unfortunately the exact opposite is true. The embassies are incredibly unfriendly and in some cases downright hostile. Each South African applying for a visa is treated like a potential illegal immigrant. It seems that the EU is convinced that we are all going to apply for asylum the moment we land there.

Understandably the many criminals in our beloved country is the cause of this horrible state of affairs. Pat Cunningham, CEO of South African Fraud Prevention Services, said there was firm evidence to show that organized crime had become involved in the illegal procurement and forging of South African passports, and that SA passports were “flooding” into hands of international crime syndicates.

“The South African travel document has become the number one choice for criminals and people smugglers; even Al Qaeda terrorists have been caught with South African passports on them. Identity theft is currently the number one crime in the United States and Europe and there is clear evidence that South Africa is following this trend. There are organised crime syndicates in various parts of South Africa using the most modern equipment available on the market to provide anything from a fake Passport to a forged University Degree”, he said.

The lack of security measures built into South African passports and identity documents made them among the easiest in the world to forge.

Even though this is the case, one has to wonder why an organisation such as the EU is so incredibly low tech and unsophisticated that it cannot distinguish between legitimate travellers and criminals. For example, even though I have travelled numerous times to Europe they continue to make the process difficult and clearly don’t have the means to flag me as a frequent traveller to the EU.

One easy way for the EU to solve this problem is to create a VIP Visa or something similar that is issued to frequent travellers that have gone through a proper screening process. This way legitimate tourists will be fast tracked and the obstacles removed.

The process to get a Schengen Visa has become such a pain that many people avoid the EU entirely. Many South Africans prefer to travel to countries where there are no visas required.

One has to wonder why the South African government is allowing other countries to bully South Africans in such a way. Many European countries do not require visas to enter South Africa. There are more than 2m Europeans that visit South Africa annually. If South Africa stood its ground and imposed the same harsh visa requirements on EU countries it won’t be long before these onerous requirements by the EU are relaxed. In addition we should consider actively boycotting the EU. Perhaps a campaign called “Don’t travel to the EU – They don’t want us there” will be effective in getting the message to them.

Until something changes it will remain difficult, costly and time consuming for South Africans to travel to the EU. In the future I will be looking at spending my hard-earned Rands in countries that make it easy for me.

Countries where South Africans don’t require visa’s.

  • Antigua and Barbuda – 1 month
  • Argentina – 90 days
  • Armenia – Visa on arrival
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados – 6 months
  • Belize
  • Benin – 30 days
  • Bolivia – 90 days
  • Botswana
  • Botswana – 90 days
  • Brazil – 90 days
  • Burundi – 30 days; obtainable at Bujumbura International Airport
  • Cambodia – 30 days
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile – 90 days
  • Colombia – 180 days
  • Comoros
  • Costa Rica – 90 days
  • Djibouti
  • Dominica – 6 months
  • Dominican Republic – 30 day tourist card must be purchased on arrival.
  • Ecuador – 90 days
  • El Salvador – 90 days
  • Ethiopia
  • Fiji – 4 months
  • Gabon
  • Gabon – Visa not required for children under 16
  • Grenada – 3 months
  • Guatemala – 90 days
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Guinea-Bissau – 90 days
  • Guyana – 3 months
  • Haiti – 3 months
  • Honduras – 90 days
  • Indonesia – 30 days
  • Iran – Conditions apply
  • Ireland
  • Israel – 90 days
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan – 30 days
  • Kyrgyzstan – 30 days
  • Laos – 30 Days
  • Lesotho – 30 days
  • Madagascar – 30 days
  • Madagascar (Visa on arrival)
  • Malawi
  • Malawi – 90 days
  • Malaysia – 90 days
  • Maldives – 30 days
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius – 90 days
  • Micronesia – 30 days
  • Mozambique
  • Mozambique – 3 months
  • Namibia – 3 months
  • Nauru Georgia – 90 days within 180 days
  • Nepal – 90 days
  • New Zealand – 90 days
  • Nicaragua – 90 days
  • Oman
  • Palau – 30 days
  • Panama – 180 days
  • Paraguay – 90 days
  • Peru – 180 days
  • Philippines – 30 days
  • Rwanda
  • Rwanda – 90 days
  • Saint Helena
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis – 3 months
  • Saint Lucia – 6 weeks
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – 1 month
  • Samoa – 60 days
  • Senegal
  • Senegal – 3 months
  • Seychelles 1 month
  • Singapore –  30 days
  • Somalia
  • Somalia – 30 days provided an invitation letter issued by the sponsor has been submitted to the Airport Immigration Department at least 2 days before arrival.
  • South Korea – 30 days
  • Swaziland –  30 days
  • Tanzania – 90 days
  • Thailand – 1 month (air) / 15 days (land)
  • Timor-Leste – 30 days
  • Togo – 7 days Benin
  • Trinidad and Tobago – 90 days
  • Tunisia – 1 month
  • Turkey issues e-visa for 3 months
  • Tuvalu – 1 month
  • Uganda
  • Uruguay – 90 days
  • Vanuatu – 30 days
  • Venezuela – 90 days
  • Zambia
  • Zambia – 90 days
  • Zimbabwe
  • Zimbabwe – 3 months