“Thank-you very much for your custom, here’s your change, we hope to see you again” – a face to face transaction; money and value changing hands; a personal exchange between seller and customer. More importantly, an opportunity to personally build loyalty through great service and human interaction.

Opportunities to interact one to one and therefore sell, upsell, cross-sell and build relationships are disappearing like shops on the high street! We are being funnelled into shopping malls and, more importantly, online for our purchases.

If you had a complaint in days of yore, you could return the goods and address the seller face to face and more often than not agree an acceptable outcome. Why? Simply because to stay in business they needed you to visit their premises again. They genuinely wanted to keep your loyalty.

In the online “Social Revolution” (SR) world it just isn’t the same anymore. Ratings have replaced genuine thank–you’s ( when you can be bothered to respond ). Five stars used to mean the pinnacle of service or the best quality product. Now it’s just how you feel at the time and its objectivity differs between people and their own personal expectations. A score of five feels to me like “good” not “great” or “what I expected” but not “fantastic”. More critically, is it genuine?

There’s either a sense of obligation to rate something or you just do it without full consideration.

Here’s an example. I’ve done several local trips in taxis recently, particularly back and forth to the local railway station at different times of the day. I have used the same local company for more than 20 years. I would ring up, speak to a pleasant person, make the booking and the taxi would turn up. Great! Simple!

The process then morphed into making the verbal booking and receiving a further confirmation by text that my booking was confirmed, followed by another one telling me the colour of the cab and make of vehicle. Added value, more personal security and more certainty. Really Great! Still simple!

In the SR world, a couple of weeks ago the taxi company actively encouraged me to book using their new App. I downloaded it. It is supposed to know where I live, but the geo-locator thinks I live 10 doors away. I had to manually put in my house number. I was anxious that they may not have the real address and arrive at a neighbours house at 6am! The following morning though, I received the reassuring security text messages and the taxi was bang on time, as usual.

I paid my fare at journey’s end, got on the train and BEEP! The rating message appeared – one to five star!
Hang on a minute! I’m just ordering a cup of tea and a sausage sandwich.
I pressed five stars as they had done everything they contracted to do and the driver and I put the world to rights on the short journey to the station. Great interaction!

I did exactly the same a few days later, same great travel experience. Same five-star confirmation.

However, the request for the rating has now become a chore. I feel obliged to respond. What’s worse, I can book a taxi and nobody will ever talk to me. It’s all down to my personal dexterity now and no need for human interaction.

I class it as “Faceless Caring”. It is not delivering my “ Easier Life” real needs anymore. If they genuinely cared about me, they would either give me a call to say that they recognize I have used them regularly and get some quality one to one feedback and consider asking for referrals ( not sharing the App with a friend) or seek a similar, short interaction when I made my next booking. Simple! Personal!

Loyalty to a service or product and the feedback systems that fuel it must be appropriate and really must address the customer’s real needs for the right reasons and not be there just to tick a few stars.

Russell Wood

Guy Arnold is Founder and Managing Director of Sales Through Service and Investors in Feedback. Russell Wood is a professional trainer and business advisor in the leisure and gaming industry. They are co-authors of of “The Reputation Book” LID Publishing 2017. Find out more at www.salesthroughservice.com or www.waypointleisure.com or email russellwood@waypointleisure.com
Visit our book website at www.thereputationbookproject.com