Customer Retention and Referral – OwnerListens

OwnerListens is an application that consumers can download and use to provide feedback to business owners anonymously and business owners can use to get realtime feedback on how they are doing.  The owner can respond to the customer’s feedback and potentially improve customer ratings on sites like Yelp if the experience was negative.  I personally know a lot of business owners do not like sites like Yelp because most people only take the time to write negative comments.  OwnerListens gives those owners a chance to avoid the public comment by receiving and responding to customer feedback directly.  OwnerListens is still in Beta mode and has an app for Apple and Android products.  They also have a blog and facebook page that they seem to be pretty active on.  The app is free to both customers and owners and looks like a more featured owner version (i.e. multiple accounts/emails) will be available in the future. 

The company seems to be using customer referral as their primary customer acquisition strategy for owners. They have a weekly contest where consumers provide feedback to owners through an online portal for a prize.  This helps attract owners because OwnerListens will then go out and find the business owner and send them a note with the feedback asking them to sign up for the service.  The contest could also help gain customer users of the service by word of mouth and social media.  The OwnerListens profile on Angel.co has good progress reported on the number of owners who have signed up for the service, so their customer acquisition strategy appears to be working.

For customer retention, I think the application in itself is the best retention method.  An owner who uses the service is only going to continue to use it if they get regular feedback from customers and are able to use the feedback to improve their business.  To help with retaining the owners that use the service, OwnerListens provides them with signs, cards, and stickers to display at their establishment advertising that they use the service and advise customers to use it to provide feedback.  OwnerListens also is currently analyzing all their 2012 feedback and providing a top 10 list of feedback and useful tips for small business owners on how to deal with that type of feedback.  The blog entries are well put together and could be a useful customer retention tool for owners, especially newer small business owners who have little experience in the industry.  Finally, it looks like the more featured version of the application for owners will incorporate a lot of the feedback OwnerListens has received on functionality that will help with customer retention, although most likely at a cost…but they have to make money somehow.  I think most business owners would be willing to pay for the service to avoid low ratings on sites like Yelp.

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