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Knowing Me, Knowing You: Exclusive Interview with Customer Feedback Specialist, Feefo

Filed under: All Articles > In Practice
By: NMK Created on: June 25th, 2009
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Getting feedback from customers on goods and services is crucial to effective marketing. New Media Knowledge met with one firm which is leveraging the Web to enable businesses to improve their business by better understanding customer feedback.

When Bill Cawley (pictured below) shopped online with eBay in 2005, the seed for a new business was sown. Cawley formed Feefo, which stands for ‘Feedback Forum’, as he believed that eBay could not function effectively without its feedback system which displays whether or not a seller is trustworthy, and thought this could apply to all businesses.

NMK caught up with Cawley to learn more about Feefo.

feefo

Briefly introduce us to Feefo

Feefo, which stands for Feedback Forum, provides businesses with a high-quality and low cost online feedback customer forum and research tool. For consumers, it gives anyone with Internet access the opportunity to find out, ahead of buying, what other customers of a Feefo-enabled business think and feel about its products or service.

It enables any business with a website and customer email database to capture fast customer feedback on the quality of their products and services. However, Feefo is not just a tool for product and service feedback. It enables improved service and product offerings, increases the number of website visitors who proceed to an actual purchase and better search engine optimisation (SEO).

It allows businesses to demonstrate that they trust and value their customers. Feefo asks customers on behalf of its clients the all important question – “what do you think about us?” An open-ended question such as this is the best way of finding out what’s on customers’ minds. If you listen to your customers, then you have your finger on the pulse and are much more capable of refining your offering to cater for your customers’ demands, and adapting to changing conditions. Customers are surprisingly pleased to be asked to give their opinions, and delighted if you take note of them.

How does it work on a practical level?

Organisations register with Feefo through its website. Once they have signed up they then send a list of customers who have bought from them in the last few months. The only information needed is what was purchased, when and the customers’ email addresses. Feefo then contacts these customers to ask them what they think of the client. A short, straightforward, Feefo-branded email, especially designed to register with a low spam score, directs customers to click on a link to leave feedback.

Feefo provides businesses with a quick and instant snapshot of customer satisfaction and also detailed reports of the feedback received. The client is provided with a custom link to use on their site so that the feedback received can be publicly viewed.

Feefo is the most productive feedback system on the market, receiving an average of nearly 20 per cent response rate from the whole customer base. This demonstrates that the system is easy and quick to use.

You say that “altering the rankings in search engines is an empty gain”? Why do you think that? Surely if you can’t be ‘found’ online then you’re less likely find customers to provide feedback in the first place?
One of the benefits of public online feedback is search engine optimisation. Search engines rightly consider new customer feedback to be new and therefore particularly relevant information. The more feedback that is received, the business is pushed further up on natural search engine rankings. Whilst this is great way of getting the business noticed online, altering the rankings in search engines is an empty gain in the long term. A business will only prosper if it can provide a good service.

Customers will only bother to give feedback if they think that the business will do something about it. This is why Feefo provides the business with the platform to directly respond to feedback. The old fashioned values that operated in the corner shop are a good template for online businesses to follow. In the shop, the man behind the counter talked to his customers, and by doing so, made them enjoy buying from him and keep coming back.  He also learnt what his customers wanted, which made him a better supplier as well as a more profitable supplier. This dialogue between customers and businesses is most valuable benefit of feedback.

What’s a great example of Feefo in action?

Clifford James sells men’s and women’s shoes and clothing and is one of the bigger brands of BVG Airflo Group. The company joined Feefo in 2008 having tried, in the past, to collect feedback from customers through a traditional survey with minimal results. Since joining Feefo, the company has had responses from nearly 9,000 customers asked for feedback, and by directly addressing any negative feedback has reduced dissatisfaction among its customers by over 50 per cent.

Of the negative comments received, Clifford James found that at least a quarter were related to delivery problems. This enabled the company to better assess and improve the performance of their courier company. Clifford James also found that customers did not fully understand the return policy for goods and was able to make a few small changes to improve clarity. As a result, customer satisfaction levels improved almost immediately. Customer feedback has not only allowed Clifford James to identify and rectify any problems with their products, customers have also made suggestions for new products which have been acted upon.

Tell me about e-commerce confidence – is there still a way to go to get people to shop online?

The Internet can be both intimidating and overwhelming for customers. Whilst the size of the Web offers a great opportunity for business ventures big and small, it is crowded with thousands of traders, each shouting about their fantastic products and services to grab the attention of roaming shoppers. Not many Internet businesses have a high street presence, or a big brand name like Amazon that is well known. For start-ups and smaller brands in particular, a lack of faith from customers can be a tricky obstacle to overcome.

Recent research by the Office of Fair Trading revealed that almost one in three Internet users are reluctant to shop online due to a lack of trust. Consumers want reassurance that a website offers good products and services in a safe environment. The best way of achieving this is though the testing of people who have bought from the business in the past. Feefo provides a platform for an organisation to show that it cares and is ready to sort out a problem quickly.

Transparency is the key to encouraging online shopping. If a trader has achieved a high percentage positive ranking on Feefo, potential customers can be sure that the trader is reliable. They can also be sure that the business will ask them for their opinion, and that, if they have reason to complain, they can do so in public. 

Customers who have responded positively are not given any incentive to do so, and there is no barrier put in the way of complaining if a customer feels it appropriate. They can then clearly see how the business has dealt with previous complaints, which will help to build trust and confidence in the trader.

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