Bernice Hurstt, Managing Partner, Fine Food Network
Online retailers sometimes struggle to know how happy customers are. They don't always get direct feedback, positive or negative, and don't often have time to chase it themselves. Feefo, a UK-based start-up, has set out its stall to address precisely this need, however.
Feefo (Feedback Forum) claims to be the only independent forum customers can use to either praise or criticize online retailers. The platform mimics the way eBay enables customers to rate sellers.
Bill Cawley, who started the business in 2006, explained to RetailWire that Feefo asks retailers to send them details of sales, each of which then generates an email to the consumer requesting feedback. Customers can rate both products and service. Retailers can then respond, immediately and publicly. Comments and responses are posted for all to see.
In addition, customers can spread the word about retailers who may not yet be participating by posting comments under the company's Feefo Grapevine platform.
A visit to the site found reviews of 560 online retailers. The wide majority, including bigger players such as Marks & Spencer and Amazon, do not participate in the Feefo program although reviews were available under the Grapevine program. But a handful of retailers have partnered with the website.
One early member, Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts, has had more than twenty thousand comments in the past year. Founder Nick Wheeler said in a statement, "Feefo gives your customers the chance to rate your product and service... Whatever they say, good or bad, is posted immediately onto your website for the whole world to see. Feefo is independent. We cannot edit or change customer responses in any way. I was worried at first - to say the least - but am delighted to see that 99 percent of our customers rate our service excellent or good. I shall not rest until we hit 100 percent!"
Tyrwhitt's website includes a Feefo logo so that customers know where they can go to see what other shoppers have said about their experience.
Mr. Cawley believes that Feefo can be particularly helpful during the current difficult situation for retailers as they try to retain customer loyalty.
"Feefo is aiming to be the TRUST mark for customers to rely on. At present we have in the region of 20 percent of customers providing feedback - usually positive, sometimes not. We believe our response rates are so high because it is quick, transparent and honest...eBay buyers have been using feedback published on the eBay website as part of their purchasing decision for years. Amazon customers are the same. Feefo offers all e-tailers the chance to provide that same level of service."
Discussion questions: What do you think of customer feedback websites as a way for online retailers to gauge customer satisfaction? Should retailers be partnering with such program providers? What hurdles do customer feedback websites face to work successfully for online retailers?