The BV Blog

Passing the Reputation Reins to Consumers

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 11, 2014 12:09:16 PM / by Gwen Wiscount

Welcome to the App and Internet generation, where consumers control a company’s reputation.


Growing up in a family business, it was instilled in me that, “The customer is always right”. I struggled with this working principle in my early years as a teenager, when it was apparent the customer was clearly wrong in certain situations. However, I quickly learned to swallow my two cents, and then smile and agree, knowing exceptional customer service will keep the customer happy and keep them coming back---spending their dollars!

Last weekend I was in a bit of a hurry to get my new closet installed in my apartment. So, I decided to try a task App which was recently recommended to me called TaskRabbit. TaskRabbit allows users to outsource household tasks to trusted people in your community for an hourly wage. I’m not going to lie; the thought of a stranger or two in my apartment made me a bit weary, but thanks to the extensive reviews (100+ reviews!) and the positive ratings majority of “rabbits” received by users just like myself, I was able to have my closet installed on the same day in less than an hour! I was thoroughly satisfied with the Rabbits’ professionalism and execution. Following the completion of the task, I was prompted to provide feedback and a rating on my experience that would deem beneficial for future users.

This experience got me thinking…using Apps like TaskRabbit, Yelp, Airbnb and Uber, consumers directly control the reputation of businesses and their staff. After every Uber ride, users are prompted to rate their driver---no opting out, you MUST provide a rating. And the driver must rate the rider---did you know that?! Need a recommendation for a restaurant or massage therapist in the area? Check out Yelp and see who is highly recommended, who delivers exceptional customer service, etc. It’s no surprise that almost 80% of consumers trust online review sites, such as Yelp, with the same confidence as personal recommendations. 

Companies have always welcomed guests and consumers to drop their feedback in a little box on-site or by mailing or emailing concerns to the company directly. We are still informed that “this call may be recorded to ensure quality assurance” for management to critique their call centers and/or sales teams’ performance to keep the brand and marketing content consistent. However, in today’s world of Internet and Apps, feedback and customer reviews are instant and in real-time, continually promoting or damaging a brand’s image to future consumers.

Here are a few advantages and disadvantages when giving the business’ reputation reins to the consumer. That is, whether it is initiated by the company or provided by free-will...also known as social media.

Reputation Reins: Apps soliciting consumers to rate and review.

+ Advantage: Keep the brand consistent by expecting any extension of your company to uphold principles and values of the brand.

- Disadvantage: We all have a bad day once in a while. Unfortunately those reading the reviews won’t know the difference.

Reputation Reins: Free-will customer feedback...SOCIAL MEDIA!

+ Advantage: Consumers spend 3+ hours every day on social media. If a product, place, or service makes them happy, they’ll share it, tweet it, Instagram it, and then they will watch how many likes and retweets they receive. If the customer had a bad experience and is displeased...keep reading.

- Disadvantage: Social media spreads like wildfire. Anyone remember, United Breaks Guitars? 14.3 million viewers do.

I believe companies today must embrace (and teach!) the age-old practice of “The customer is always right” ---even if they must grin and bear it. If any extension of your company objects to this belief and demonstrates their objection, be prepared to have an instant hit on your measure of customer service and your brand’s reputation as a whole.

What other advantages and disadvantages do you see with the App initiated reviews for a company’s performance?


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Topics: Sales

Gwen Wiscount

Written by Gwen Wiscount

Gwen Wiscount is a Partner at Blarney Ventures, and currently serves as the Director of our Boston office. With a background in both sales and marketing, Gwen's knowledge of growing companies is outweighed only by her drive and ambition.