Green energy vendor cultivates customer ratings

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For some businesses, public comment about their products and service quality is something to be feared. But for one b-to-b supplier, customer reviews have become a way to strengthen relationships.

GoGreenSolar is a Los Angeles-based boutique supplier of green energy products. Contractors and homebuilders account for about 60% of GoGreenSolar’s business, which has become an increasingly crowded marketplace, with many big competitors selling green products.

GoGreenSolar decided that customer service would be one of its distinguishing qualities. Last July, it contracted with RatePoint, developer of customer rating software and services) to enable customers to rate, online, their experience with GoGreenSolar for all to see.

The RatePoint service, which costs GoGreenSolar just $18 per month, includes a custom page on the GoGreenSolar site, where customers can rate its performance on a one-to-five scale. RatePoint acts as kind of a Good Housekeeping seal of approval on the process.

Its back-end service verifies that customer reviews are genuine; it also provides a means to arbitrate disputes. All valid ratings, both good and bad, are published on the GoGreenSolar site.

GoGreenSolar has collected more than 20 customer reviews to date, nearly all of them five stars. The ratings pages quickly became one of the site’s most popular features, said GoGreenSolar founder Deep Patel.

Having the ratings validated by an independent third party is critical, he said, adding, “Customers need trust.”

GoGreenSolar is proud of its 4.91 average review rating, but it doesn’t fear negativity. The important thing is to get customers to return to interact with the company. Many customers disappear once a transaction is completed, so the rating system also works as a method of extending the relationship beyond an individual sale. This is an important, hidden value of the ratings program, Patel said. “We have an opportunity to have a dialog after the transaction. That’s a sales opportunity,” he said. “People who leave reviews often come back and buy more stuff.”

Even the occasional dissatisfied customer is an opportunity. Unhappy customer experiences often can be resolved by conversation and incentives. In fact, GoGreenSolar expects to respond even more aggressively to negative reviews than to positive ones. “You can have a dialog, resolve the issue and show people that the company is actively seeking to make things better,” Patel said. “Reputation is what’s going to make us successful.”

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