“I asked for ‘Grilled Steak.’ And I got Pork. I said ‘No’ to smothered, and got smothered.”
So read a recent restaurant review on the new OpenTell service from Mindshare, which allows certified customers only to express their unvarnished opinions.
The review is available as part of the newly launched OpenTell service, to which restaurants can link. OpenTell offers a public version of Mindshare’s 11-year-old Voice-of-the-Customer platform for privately providing certified customer feedback to companies, mostly in the food and retail spaces.
Only customers who use a validation code printed on a receipt from a purchase can leave a comment about that company through Mindshare’s platform. Expedia, for instance, uses a similar system where only customers can post, but many other sites allow any user -- legitimate customer or not -- to express their opinion.
Each validation code allows customers to leave one comment, and, in many cases, the customer is offered soft incentives such as a free soda to offer their appraisals. OpenTell co-founder and CEO John Sperry told CMSWire.com that client brands “are not allowed to touch or edit” the certified reviews, which reside on the OpenTell site. Every review submitted by a certified customer is posted.
Sperry said that most legitimate comments on review sites “represent the tails” of the bell curve of positive and negative feedback. In other words, some show high levels of approval, some show low and most fall in the middle. But, he pointed out, customers who post reviews tend to be the more highly motivated people who love or hate what they’re bought, from either end of the curve. The soft incentive is designed to bring out more comments from that large, often unrepresented middle.
Building a Review Base
The Salt Lake City-based Mindshare said that 30 to 50 responses are being generated through its patent-pending OpenTell platform every month for every reviewed location. Average ratings, such as number of stars awarded to a location, are determined only from the last six months of responses, so that feedback is fresh. Analytical tools process the comments for phrases used, positive or negative feedback and other insights, which are then reported to the clients.
The new OpenTell service, Sperry said, currently has about 15 brands as clients. It builds on recent Mindshare acquisition Empathica’s GoRecommend technology, which allows customers’ comments to be shared on social networks, as well as on review-based sites like Yelp.
Mindshare’s core business of private feedback collects about 85 million new reviews annually, with most of the company’s 350 clients receiving about three certified reviews on a private basis daily.