In 2010, 58% of CEO’s responded that customer concerns and demands were very important to business decisions. At first glance, this may seem odd. Afterall, shouldn’t it be 100%? What’s really interesting, though, is that the percentages that CEO’s responded to employees and government were 45% and 39% respectively. This means that CEO’s find it more important to listen to their customers than their employees or even the government.

Therefore, as customers we must understand that we hold much more power than we often realize. Recently, I had an issue with receiving support from Adobe, Inc. I made several attempts to get a simple issue resolved. I made multiple phone calls, web chat sessions, and web tickets. After several escalations, transfers, and holding, nothing was ever accomplished. I was tempted to give up and resign my attempts to find a resolution.

I instead decided to use my power as a customer to have the issue more salient. I wrote a blog post explaining exactly what was going on and how their lack of support was forcing me, and others, into a situation where we have to choose eBooks based on platform rather than content, and how the customer experience suffers greatly as a result. I made sure to include the Adobe Twitter handle (@adobe) into the title of the blog post. I did this so that every time the post is re-tweeted, it will show up on Adobe’s feed. After rereading the post a few times to make sure it didn’t sound more inflammatory than I intended, I hit “publish.” Moments later, I tweeted the article with one last plea for help to Adobe’s Customer support (@adobe_care).

The result: I tried for months to receive seemingly simple customer support (and I’ve worked in support and customers service for years) to no avail. Within 1 ½ hours of posing the blog post, I received an email from a dedicated support engineer complete with an email address I could reply to, a name, and a cell phone number. It’s amazing how fast things change when we hold companies accountable publicly.

I like to think that my issue with Adobe was fairly minor. If you’d like to judge for yourself, you can find the original post here. However, the implications are much more important. If Adobe responds within an hour of making a complaint public, imagine what we can do when we hold our companies to higher standards with regards to social, economic, and ecological sustainability or when we hold them to higher standards with regards to equality and human rights. We can vote with our wallets, but we can also (and must) vote with our voices. The stage is yours…