I’m delighted to feature my first guest post by James Lawther (Squawk Point).

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A friend of mine was going to my home town for a long weekend with his wife.  He sat down and asked me if I could recommend a restaurant to take her to.

The moment I started to write it down he whipped out an iphone (apparently they are the future) and suggested I show him on that.  I didn’t want to look like a complete technophobe so duly complied by Googling the eatery.  The results were a revelation.  Not only was there a Google map with directions and the restaurant’s own web site, but there was also a review site called “the food place”.  Fourteen different people had taken the time to give the place a rating (Amazon star style) and, more interestingly still, five of them had gone to the time and effort of writing an actual review.

The thought went through my head that for pretty much anything I could possibly want to buy, somewhere somebody has set up a review site that revolves around customer feedback.  I started to look:

  • Pubs: Check
  • Builders: Check
  • Credit Cards: Check
  • Airlines: Check
  • Gentlemen’s Clubs (I managed not to look, if you really need to know you will have to investigate yourself)

The power of social media is just mind blowing.  Gone are the days when you will need to ask a friend if they know the name of a good plumber.

Then I started to think through the implications for businesses.  If you run any sort of service business at all and you upset a single customer you run the distinct risk of having it plastered all over the internet.  The only saving grace that the big utilities have is that they are all as bad as each other.  Type Vodafone or O2 into Twitter and you will see what I mean.

The first one to crack the service problem will make millions.

As for my favourite restaurant, 4 / 10; it used to be OK, but I wouldn’t recommend it now, it has gone downhill.

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About James:

James Lawther gets upset by business operations that don’t work and apoplectic about poor customer service.  Visit his web site “The Squawk Point” to find out more about service improvement.

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