With social media sites already providing a “voice” for people to air their view, Service Hero sets itself apart as a totally neutral and independent entity for all feedback – regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. Faten Abu-Ghazaleh, President of Service Hero, took some time off from her busy schedule to tell Tempo her new inspired startup Service Hero.
TEMPO: Tell us about Faten Abu-Ghazaleh. How do you describe yourself?
Faten: I am a seasoned marketer with experience in retail strategy, service excellence, market research and customer relationship management. My passion is to understand how a company can earn the respect, satisfaction and loyalty of its customers, and how it can really understand the hot buttons that can help them meet those expectations. I have had a conventional career in banking for over 15 years where I ended up becoming assistant general manager in Kuwait’s leading bank. Then I transitioned to consulting and entrepreneurship with our unique start-up, Service Hero. I studied political science as an undergraduate but then got my MBA with a focus in Marketing from NYU.
TEMPO: We saw your site: www.servicehero.com and it looks like a cool concept! Users get to give their feedback on some of the top brands in the UAE. Could you tell us more about Service Hero?
Faten: In my previous career at the National Bank of Kuwait we used to run a lot of market research that enabled us to really understand what our positioning was with our customers and the areas we needed to improve upon. We set up a service quality program that my team was responsible for in which we constantly monitored ourselves compared to other banks and service providers.
When I discussed our findings with the CEO and other executive team members, we were always asked questions that we didn’t always have answers to. For example: “What index do we compare to?” or “Who is the service leader in Kuwait?” or “Which industry is a leader that we can learn from?”
When I left to join our own consulting firm, these same questions came up whenever I set up customer service programs for hospitals, schools and banks. So we came up with the concept of a national customer satisfaction index in Kuwait that is similar to the long running and the well-respected American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). We were inspired by that index, but we are unique in the way we ask the questions and collect the data. In our third year of operation, we actually became partners with the ACSI. It gives me a great sense of pride that the Service Hero index is the only national index in the Arab world, and that it has been running for seven years (it is in its first year in the UAE).
TEMPO: Describe the process – how do users share their thoughts in www.servicehero.com ?
Faten: The idea is that we need to collect votes or assessments from real customers, so we created the online survey engine as the platform to collect feedback. We then went about running digital promotion campaigns to collect assessments.
So a typical consumer would see a Service Hero advertisement online and would click to arrive at our website and register to leave his or her feedback. It is entirely up to the consumer to choose which brand they want to evaluate.
Once they are done, they get to see the star rating for that brand based on all collected assessments as well as consumer comments about it. Additionally we send out emails to consumers, use social media to attract them, and encourage companies to rate the brands. We also participate in fairs and events such as Comic Con, which was held in early April in the UAE, where we invite visitors to rate the event as well as to familiarize themselves with Service Hero.
TEMPO: Users could already voice out their concerns directly via the official Social Media pages? What makes “Service Hero” different from posts made on social media networks?
Faten: We encourage customers to reach out to brands to solve immediate problems. How we are different is that we run a rigorous market research survey that collects ratings on 23 questions and reports a brand’s scores. By collecting representative samples from consumers, we can rate brands within an industry and report on a number of factors such as demographic groups, service dimensions, changes over time, and comparisons to other local and international brands. The end result of our research is to empower consumers to make their voice heard, while we stay transparent about the star rating of a brand which is simply converting their assessments into a 3-star rate on our website.
TEMPO: Out of all this feedback could you come up with a “Top 10” list of steps each company can take to please their customers?
Faten: Good question. I’m not sure I can answer it this way. What I suggest is talking about the concept of three peaks: expectations, satisfaction and loyalty. Over the years, we have seen a pattern when it comes to service excellence.
Companies need to understand what customers expect from them. Then they need to meet these expectations in a way that touches the hearts of people so that they are loyal.
Most consumer comments one way or another revolve around comments such as: ‘I expected speed, but got to wait four hours to finish my banking transaction’; ‘I love this cafe – they know me every time I go they have my order ready’; ‘I had a complaint and no one cared to address it’. So the quick tips are know what they want, deliver it spot on, and do it in a way that makes them like you.
TEMPO: What has been the response to Service Hero?
Faten: Consumers, especially sophisticated ones, love the index because they see it as a platform to make their voices heard. Companies are mixed in their feedback – they like us if they are leaders. But if they are not focusing on customer service, they tend to wish we would disappear because we are an independent, neutral and credible entity that shares their low scores with the public.
TEMPO: Any future plans that you would like to share with the community?
Faten: We will continue to develop the survey engine and the transparency of information on our website. We aim to be as clear as possible with our information so that consumers will get value out of seeing brand ratings. Because we are an online platform, we will be expanding to include other sectors in the UAE (restaurants, hotels, health clubs) as well as other countries in the region. We also have a long list of digital developments related to app technology, including GPS tracking, and rewarding customers with badges.
TEMPO: Finally, what’s your message to consumers?
Faten: Instead of complaining about service, empower yourself and take two minutes to rate the brand that gave you great or terrible service. Each vote makes a difference.
More and more, we see that companies are responding to the ratings and comments that consumers are making as they realize that Service Hero is neutral, independent, credible and relevant index.
The more votes collected, the more difference we can make in terms of shaping the standard of service that we receive. And spread the word because we all deserve to get better service!