You know those comfy chairs that you sometimes see in shops, right by the fitting rooms? They are simply a great idea. ‘This shop manager gets it’ I always think whenever I come across one. Paul - a good friend of mine - shares this feeling. He recently went shopping with his wife. He had just settled down in a leather armchair, when a woman - a complete stranger - asked him if the dress she was trying on suited her. He said it did and, relieved, the woman made her way to the till. This scene was repeated with several different women in the next half hour; Paul enjoyed that unusual experience. In fact, he noticed that his feedback was more closely taken on board than it would be at home. Does that sound familiar?
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After that half hour, he jokily suggested to the shop manager that he should come back every Saturday. The ‘mystery advisor’ could be a useful addition to the existing mystery shopper. Not only are unbiased opinions and recommendations very effective, but people actually actively seek them out.
We all know comparison websites such MoneySuperMarket, GoCompare Independer.nl, iens.nl, and Skyscanner. I am almost certain that pages including reviews are among the most visited pages of these websites. Whenever I am looking for a restaurant or a hotel, I always find myself clicking on the reviews. Word-of-mouth advertising is still effective, including the online kind.
Sharing and reading experiences online - in the business-to-consumer markets, is the most natural thing in the world. The business-to-business domain has not reached that stage just yet, but my prediction is that in the next five years, you will be checking reviews on the internet before making your business purchases. There are already some comparison websites where you can compare different software suppliers, and which feature the inevitable reviews. In a few years’ time, you will also find overviews of IWMS suppliers.
Will your decisions then be entirely dependent on online reviews? Probably not. After all, there is a lot more to the purchase of a business application than there is to booking a table in a restaurant or shopping for new clothes. It goes without saying that you are properly prepared, aware of the pros and cons of the various suppliers, and that you may even have had a look to see what other users are doing. All the necessary ingredients are there; the crucial factor for your definitive choice now depends on the people you talk to. They have to be able to make the application fit into your organisation and business processes in such a way that the benefits that are promised do actually materialise.
Whoever is best able to make this happen, is the party that I as a potential buyer would have the greatest confidence in, because that ‘x-factor’ is, in my experience, essential for a good start of any new working partnership.
So that leaves us with one last question: will you review this blog entry?