Organizations still have a long way to go to to fully integrate the social web to connect to their customers. Here are some great examples, curated by Hult International Business School and Center for Innovation, Excellence and Leadership (IXL Center). Their book Connectivate! is a collection of real world stories from 54 innovative companies whose breakthroughs are changing the world.
By leveraging today’s confluence of technological and analytical breakthroughs, these companies connect people, businesses, governments and entities in novel and meaningful ways, capturing win-win propositions on the value chain. These companies have created a new economic context, increasingly accessible in a space-time singularity called Always Available.
Real world stories about innovators and innovative companies are an important way to learn, and we place high value on them at Innovation Excellence. The next case study in our Connectivate! series is:
ANGIE’S LIST – Online Service Shop
Find the best local service provider through reviews that I can trust
WHO NEEDS IT?
People and businesses that are looking for the right contractor across different service categories. Users willing to get the right service or solution to complement friends’ and family members’ references and recommendations.
WHAT IS THE CONNECTIVATION?
Angie’s List connects both consumers and local service providers by compiling, organizing and making available reliable information on local service providers.
The online referral site contains local service companies such as home improvement contractors, auto mechanics and health care providers enabling users to choose which companies to employ or avoid, based on ratings and reviews from previous consumers’ experiences.
WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE?
People used to go to the yellow pages to find local service providers. Others used to ask friends, neighbors, and family for referrals. These referrals were based on a single interaction, making it difficult for a consumer to confirm a word-of-mouth recommendation before making a purchase decision.
In 2010, the company generated $59 million in revenue and had a net loss of $27.2 million. As of June 30, 2011 the company offers 550+ service categories, and has 820,000+ paid memberships nationwide. The company filed for a $114 million IPO in November 2011.
Build a place for users to get the real scoop on local service companies to get reliable information on which companies to use and which to avoid.
- Changing Lifestyles: Due to a slower economy more people are turning to remodeling instead of buying new homes, encouraging people to look for and choose contractors.
- Integration: It is said that in New York City alone 10 billion products and services are offered, making it difficult for consumers to choose the right service or solution according to their needs.
BASIC HUMAN NEEDS
- Maximizing Wealth: Consumers are always looking for the best available solution/service to do a job fast and right the first time, without spending too much time looking around for the right provider. Consumers are always looking for affordable services that guarantee high quality standards.
- Convenience: It is easy to use and simple to connect with the right contractors and service providers.
WHY THEY ARE WINNING
The company doesn’t allow anonymous reviews and it offers certified data collection to prevent companies and providers from reporting on themselves or their competitors.
- Subscription: Pay-up-front — users select a membership plan and term (monthly or annual), when the company is new to a city it opens a free membership trial creating a grass roots memberships that allows the company to build the list; members then have the option — versus the obligation — to renew their membership.
- Customer loyalty through convenience: Users have access trusted contractor and service provider reviews.
Web page with a subscription-based user-generated reviews of consumer service companies.
Access to local reviews, live support through a call center, and access to the complaint resolution team (a team that will intercede if a home repair or health experience goes bad).
Services are accessible by members on the Internet, by smartphone, telephone or text message. Also through the call center and the monthly magazine.
Consumers looking for services such as: remodeling, furniture repair and cleaning, movers, appliance repair, auto repair services and pest control. Consumers looking for healthcare providers.
Angie’s List partnered with the healthcare blue book that offers a free guide to fair healthcare pricing, in order to expand Angie’s service offering within the healthcare sector.
image credit: angieslist.com
Dr. Hitendra Patel, Ronald Jonash, Steve Wyatt and Victor Fernandes are co-authors of Connectivate! Companies Innovating in New Ways to be Always Available; and members of leadership and the team at IXL CENTER, the Center for Innovation, Excellence & Leadership at Hult International Business School.