Following on from my post on online reputation services, I have interviewed Will Paterson, founder of Plebble. Â We talked about Plebble and the future of the online reputation business
Please give us some background on your product and companyÂ
Plebble was co-founded by me and my brother James. Â We launched Plebble.com in January 2008. Plebble.com is a website where consumers can rate and comment on the level of service and the value for money provided by every business in the UK. Â Consumer ratings are used to help other consumers find the businesses that give the best service/value and avoid the worst. Â Plebble also acts as an online meeting place between consumers and businesses, which helps businesses understand what their customers think of them and allows businesses to engage with their customers on a peer-to-peer level. Â Plebble has the dual benefit of helping consumers get better service and businesses gain stronger loyalty and reputation.
Who is your main target market?Â
Although Plebble.com is open to any business in the UK, our main targets are big consumer brands and brands that sell commoditized products such as broadband, mobile, utilities, banks, etcâ€¦ Â These are sectors where consumers often receive the worst service but where service levels are a key distinction point for businesses.Â
Do you have any plans for integrating information from multiple sources e.g. eBay and amazon feedbackÂ
We are looking into integrating information from multiple sources. It is unlikely however that we will integrate eBay or Amazon feedback. Â This is simply because of the complex nature of eBay feedback and Amazon ratings principally being focused on products. Â Â
I notice that you charge for some services on your website. Â Whilst you are trying to boost users, wonâ€™t this put people off?Â
We operate a â€˜freemiumâ€™ model whereby businesses can sign up for free and use many core features for free, however we charge on a simple credits based system for some features. Â We also gift new members free credits to encourage them to use the service. Â So the barriers to use our service is extremely low. Â This is simply to encourage business adoption. Â We think it would be a mistake to market the service as a completely free service to businesses and then try and implement payments at a later date.Â
How do you see the market for online reputation services evolving. Â How soon before all online retailers are using services like PlebbleÂ
Plebble is Â directly targeted at giving consumers a place to air their customer service experiences and designed to put consumers and businesses together. Â There are however a vast number of platforms where consumers can share their opinions about businesses for example other review sites, forums, social networks etcâ€¦. Â With a growing number of consumers posting their experiences online, retailers and other businesses wonâ€™t be able to pick one platform to engage with, they will have to engage with the platforms that their customers choose to go to. They will also have to know the rules of engagement on individual platforms. Â So I think we will see a much greater adoption of platforms like Plebble coupled with a rise in solutions that help businesses engage with multiple platforms.Â
Attitudes are changing and businesses are seeing services like Plebble as opportunity rather than a threat. As such adoption is growing. Â Itâ€™s difficult to predict when an industry standard will be achieved, but the market is heading in the right direction.
Plans for the future?Â
Our plan is continue to develop and improve Plebble.com. Â With reference to the approve question, we are also planning on helping businesses understand and engage with their customers through their own bespoke needs. Â We are doing this through Plebble Systems www.plebblesystems.com