I have come across several online reputation management systems recently, all of which seem to be missing a trick or two. This is sad as one day these systems will be to web in general what feedback is to eBay (hmmmmm, perhaps that is damning with faint praise).
There are a lot of products out there which allows customers to give businesses reviews. Sites like Qype and trusted places are built around local business reviews and are primarly offline in focus. From a directory point of view, with their richer content I can see local search services like these giving slow moving monsters like Yell.com a run for their money, however their review service are pretty basic. For example they do not pull information in from any other sources (e.g. RSS feeds) or in any way ensure that the customer are genuine.
Plebble is a site totally based on giving rating of businesses. It is more interesting in that it provides more information on a business and greater opportunity for the business owner to customise their profiles. However, where Plebble is going wrong is in trying to charge for parts of this service too early. Consumers are not yet using these services en masses, and until their do, there is no way that anyone is going to bother to pay. Niggle.co.uk is a similar service.
A more interesting, if slightly bland service is eKomi. This service claims to give a feedback experience like eBay and Amazon. Certainly it does have the advantage over those mentioned above in that it contains reviews from genuine customers, and not just anyone with an opinion. Where I think it fails is in having none of the search facilities of sites like Qype. it would be nice to bring some search functionality to allow users to find businesses with the best profiles.
What I would do…
- Integration with established reputation management systems. I am very surprised that no reputation management system has integrated in with eBay and Amazon feedback to provide an overall view of the feedback on a business.
- Pull in other sources of information. A really good system would pull in information such as company registration details from companies house.
- Rich profiles. A company should be able to sell themselves by creating a compelling profile
- Search. Finally, customer should be able to find the company with the best reputation.