Community reviews matter for small business owenrs. For instance, if you run a salon and you’re looking for an online email provider, you’ll probably want to check in with other salon owners in your area (or at least other SMBs) to find out which service they suggest.
Alignable, a social networking platform for small business owners, is based on this principle, and invites its hundreds of thousands of SMB users in 7,000 communities to openly discuss pros and cons of marketing technology on the platform. Using over 6,000 ratings shared by SMBs, the site has become a goldmine of informed SMB opinions about the various solutions that cater to small businesses.
This morning the company released its first quarterly SMB Trust Index which shows what small businesses think of a variety of small business technology brands. The index features a Net Promoter Score (NPS), which ranks products and services according to what its user base has said.
“A natural conversation on Alignable could be people talking about Yelp — how it works and doesn’t — and that goes on across the platform all of the time,” Alignable CEO Eric Groves told Street Fight. “So we thought: ‘What if we could [take that] and make ratings and reviews?’”
More than 20 small business service providers are ranked in the Q4 2015 Index. The highest scorer, meaning the one that has the most positive reviews, is WordPress, which has an NPS of 73. Dwelling at the bottom of the list is Yelp, with a NPS of -66.
Groves, who prior to launching Alignable led revenue generation at Constant Contact, says that the NPS you’ll find here is quite likely much different from the one you’ll find internally at a company.
“Last fall OnDeck’s CEO came out and said its NPS score was positive 73. On our page it’s negative 50,” said Groves. “Why is that? The answer is because when they measure their internal NPS, they are likely asking people who got a loan and paid it back. The challenge is that there are a whole bunch of other people in their business funnel that never made it that far. We capture that portion — the people that haven’t converted, et cetera.”
With its NPS system, Alignable not only wants to give insight to small business owners, but also help the technology providers get a bigger (or at least another) picture of how they’re being perceived by users.
“The higher your NPS score, the more likely you are to get referrals and word-of-mouth acquisition,” said Groves. “A lot of detractors means your customers are actually hurting your business.”
Facebook is a company that may particularly benefit from knowing their NPS on Alignable, because they look to be going in the wrong direction, gaining detractors rather than fans.
“In early 2015, Facebook would have shown up in the top 3 to for results, but [their ranking] continues to drop,” said Groves, adding that this is because many small businesses feel abandoned by Facebook.
“Facebook originally spent a lot of time [allowing small businesses to] build up followers so that they thought of it as a customer engagement platform and then Facebook switched gears on them, becoming more of a media company.”
Essentially, Facebook pulled the rug out from under small businesses, making it so they had to pay to have their statuses boosted in order to be seen at all.
“Facebook never said we’re sorry, how can we make it up to you, and it really hurt small businesses because they had looked at Facebook as a vehicle of engagement and all of a sudden it was taken away, after they helped Facebook build all that [consumer] data.”
What Facebook could do in order to improve their NPS is look to give back to the small business community so as to regain their trust.
“If I was advising Sheryl Sandberg, I would say, ‘Look, you’ve lost trust, you’ve had people that built an enormous asset on your platform that they’re no longer using anymore. Can you give them some sort of credit that allows them to boost two of their favorite posts? And help them learn how to use the product in a way that doesn’t cost them anything but gives them value.’ That is how they can build back the trust that they’ve lost.”
Businesses should also consider what small business owners value most. For instance, GoDaddy is above Squarespace and Web.com mainly because of its favorably reviewed customer support. Small business owners are showing that they care more about being personally tended to and guided than they do about sheer usability, said Groves.
Groves said that the SMB Trust Index will be released on a quarterly basis going forward.
Nicole Spector is a contributor to Street Fight.