Last week I wrote about the pitfalls of online review systems and the damage they can do to companies when false reviews, both negative and positive, are published online. You can catch up with that one here.
In the article I explored how the online review system could be better vetted and monitored to try to keep the whole thing relevant and of a high quality. That got me to thinking of other ways in which our own industry could better navigate the world of online reviews. I then remembered something that I wrote a while ago when on a similar topic.
Review the home owner
The idea actually stems from taxi company Uber. Online you are able to review the driver, so as you are choosing your next Uber home, you can see who your drivers are in the area and pick the one you prefer. In return however drivers can rate their passengers. That alerts other Uber drivers as to who is hailing them and whether they want to pick up that passenger or not. Not sure many drivers would want to pick up a 2-star passenger. So would a window and door installers want to sell to a 2-star home owner?
My guess is not.
Most good installers I imagine do their most to accommodate home owners and do their best for them. Most home owners I imagine appreciate the effort made by good people and are accommodating in return. There is however a proportion of the buying public that we all know that no matter what a company does for them they will never be happy. It’s my own personal opinion that the proportion is rising. Unfortunately when a good company stumbles upon a consumer like that there is often very little they can do, but they get the thick end of the shit stick too. Often, negative reviews of the company end up online, despite that account not being accurate and the company having to suffer a negative review.
This is where the ability to review the home owner could make a big difference. Going back to the Uber model for a moment. I know someone who uses Uber often enough for them to care about their rating. Which to me says that it works. They don’t want their rating to slip low enough that Uber drivers will stop picking them up. The model actually works.
Why not have something like this for home owners or consumers in general? If such a site existed where businesses could review home owners after big ticket purchases, like cars, kitchens, bathrooms etc companies would be able to check the rating of the home owner before they decided to take on that lead. The lower the rating the more likely they are to be a problem. Companies would naturally fight for the better rates home owners, and in return, home owners, just as with Uber, would be more likely to be less of a problem to companies in the hope that their ratings won’t suffer.
A chance to re-balance
Some would say that idea could become a stick to beat home owners with, as in a threat to rate them poorly just so the company can get what it wants from the home owner. The same is said about the Uber system. And I would agree. But it works because the exact opposite can happen as well.
As I talked about on my previous post on this subject, it is all too easy for home owners to go online and leave a falsely negative review of a company. It is all too easy for a home owner to threaten a business with a bad review if they don’t get what they want. So I would argue that if that threat exists from home owner to business, then it’s fair that it exists the other way round too.
Online reviews, ratings etc need to be much more balanced between company and consumer. At the moment companies hold very little power to prevent false reviews being posted online. This could be one way in which home owners apply common sense before leaving reviews and comments on companies.
This is a big idea that I have only seen used by one company. But I think if more big ticket industries got behind the idea, it could start to change the way consumers and businesses interacted, hopefully for the better.
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