In our last post, we talked about the motivation for starting Bizyhood and why it will be so special. We highlighted three metrics that can more accurately measure the value of a business in the eyes of its customers. This post will go into more detail on how these three metrics will be surfaced on Bizyhood.
1. What customers (in particular my friends and local experts) think of a business
Ratings have traditionally been based on a relatively arbitrary “star” basis. Most often, it’s a 5 star system. The problem is that everybody’s own internal rating criteria is different. For me, I won’t give 5 stars unless everything was impeccable; literally, the best experience I’ve ever had (or very close to it!). A truly good experience will get 4 stars, a business that does what they should (but no more/less) gets 3 stars. If I had a few problems, then 2 stars. And only if the business totally missed on all expectations or did something unreasonable/unethical (like my contractor from a few years ago) do I give them a 1 star rating. Do you rate like this? Many probably do, but just as many do not.
Bizyhood will not be offering a 5-star system. Rather, we’ve classified businesses into specific categories. We’ve also identified three rating attributes that are important metrics for that particular business category. You will rate each of the three attributes based on a three point scale – you liked it, you are ambivalent, or you didn’t like it. Restaurants (for example) will be based on Service, Quality, and Ambience. There is no perfect rating scheme, but this model gives better context and also makes the rating less arbitrary.
Typically, when I visit a business review site, all I see are random reviews from people I don’t know. What’s worse, when I visit a remote location away from my home (where I won’t know much of the local business climate), I have no idea of the sensibilities of the people reviewing these businesses. Do they share my own perspective on what makes a business good or not?
What would be most helpful is to be able to see what my own friends and what locals think of businesses. Some sites are starting to do this by allowing you to link your Facebook and/or Google+ accounts to their sites, but they aren’t going far enough. You should be able to sort and rank businesses by these social filters, as well as easily engage with your own social networks on a rating site so you can get truly trusted information from people you know.
If I’m traveling out of the area, I’d like a little more intelligence as to the locals doing the reviews. Are they experts or just random reviewers? Any help the site can give me to filter out the noise is most helpful.
2. Customer Loyalty
This is another major miss by the existing rating sites. Why can I only rate a business one time? If I go to a Dry Cleaner regularly, shouldn’t I have the option to rate *every* interaction? Perhaps I will learn that my Dry Cleaning experience on Tuesday’s isn’t as good as it is on other days. Also, when somebody is researching a business, isn’t the number of times a customer has visited or used the business highly relevant?
Also, from a large retailer perspective, practically every business has a frequent shopper program. I would imagine that savvy small businesses want that same ability but either don’t know how to provide it or can’t afford it.
Bizyhood will not only allow users to rate a business multiple times, it will highly encourage it. A business should want to get feedback on every interaction, especially if it only takes a few seconds for their users to give it. In addition, users that take advantage of this feature will also gain insights into their own purchasing habits and trends. Using the example above, I might learn that I’m not having good experience with my Dry Cleaner on Tuesdays and stop going that day. I might want to share my top local restaurants with some friends coming in from out of town. I’d also love to see special promotions and coupons available to me as a loyal customer that I might not get otherwise.
3. How businesses respond/communicate with their customers
This is my biggest disappointment with existing rating sites. I can easily see what users think of a business, but I have NO IDEA what the businesses think of the reviews/ratings they get. Do they care? Do they ignore them?
I want to get a feel for what the business is like when I go to these review sites. If they get a particularly bad review, I already know it’s likely (a) somebody who never even visited their business but was either paid or has a bias to say something negative, or (b) somebody who truly had a bad experience and wants the world to know. For me, it would say something if the business could genuinely respond to these negative reviews. It would also say something to me if they could respond but simply refuse to.
This type of interaction should absolutely be part of the business rating – how responsive the business is to their customers. And it’s completely lacking with online review sites. We believe that if reputable businesses can have an equal voice on a rating site, their need to get their parent/sibling/partner to give them SUPER AMAZING, UNBELIEVABLE, NEVER BETTER 5-Star ratings will go away!
As we already mentioned, there are even more benefits to providing data like this, which I’ll go deeper on in future posts. Suffice it to say that these benefits will help the business as much as it helps consumers.To that end, we’ll be adding even more capabilities to help businesses manage their relationship with customers and greatly aid in word-of-mouth marketing that will totally change how they can communicate, using the power of the Internet, web and our deep desire to communicate online.