As consumers, online reviews aren’t new to us. Far from it, we’ve been inundated with reviews sites over the years and they’re now pretty pervasive in our purchasing habits. For example if you live in New York City like I do, you might use Yelp reviews to find the best Sri Lankan food in town (I like Kottu House in Manhattan myself), you might use Google’s reviews to find a tasty Turkish baklava (I often crave Gulluoglu in Queens), or you might try to find out what others’ opinion of the best vanilla ice cream is in the city (if you think it’s not Van Leeuwen, you’re just wrong).
So there are millions upon millions of reviews for products, services, and businesses that consumers use. That has expanded consumers’ horizons, empowered us, and given us the ability to make informed purchasing decisions that are validated by similar consumers. It is good to be a consumer right now!
So what about if you’re a business owner looking for a supplier of equipment, machinery, supplies, materials, or services? Unfortunately, it’s not so rosy for you. You might be wondering, “Why can’t businesses just use the same type of reviews that consumers do, to evaluate suppliers?” On the surface, it seems like a review is a generic commodity- ultimately they should all be the same, right? Not really. Just take a moment to think about it:
If you’re a business purchasing a $100,000 piece of customized machinery that can make or break your entire operation, you’re certainly not approaching that purchase the same way you’d approach buying a cup of rum raisin ice cream. So you couldn’t possibly use the same type of reviews to inform both purchases.
Here at Kinnek, we’ve spent years helping businesses discover the best suppliers. We’ve worked with hundreds of thousands of business owners across North America, helping them sift through billions of dollars of quotes, and analyze which suppliers are right for them. Through this experience, we’ve learned a lot about every aspect of business reputation. We’ve taken these learnings, and developed the most powerfully effective tool for B2B suppliers to control their online reputation- it’s aptly named Kinnek Reputation. The heart of the Kinnek Reputation product is our reviews system, which is tailor-made for the B2B use case. Kinnek reviews are based on Kinnek’s Four Pillars of B2B Reviews:
- Make Each One Count: There are fewer B2B reviews; it’s not a volume play like Consumer reviews. Every review contributes a lot to a supplier’s reputation perception.
- Identity Matters: The identity of the reviewer, how the reviewer knows the supplier, and whether or not they even know them, are much more important for B2B reviews than Consumer reviews. Verification of reviews is paramount in the business world. It doesn’t matter much to a consumer if Yelp confirms that every single reviewer of a restaurant actually ate there. However, it is table stakes for all reviewers of a B2B supplier to have a verified relationship with that supplier.
- Reviews as References: There’s already the concept of a customer reference in the B2B world. So reviews must be more similar to this; B2B reviews are more about highlighting marquee customers and making them available for contact, rather than showing thousands of nearly-anonymous reviewers.
- Get Beneath the Surface: The bar for B2B reviews is really high- they must provide a lot more information than is usually contained in Consumer reviews. After all, a supplier’s reviews might be read by a business that has even met that supplier in-person at a trade show or received a quote from them. Because of this, B2B reviews must contain information that’s not just a surface-level “I like this supplier!” or “I don’t like them!” We’ve seen B2B reviews work best when the reviewer provides information like: lessons learned about the supplier’s products and services, things to watch out for, observations about after-sales-service/repair/maintenance, shipping issues, tips about credit/financing availability, and photos of how they’ve installed the supplier’s products. Business owners need to know that they’re reading unbiased recommendations from fellow business owners, who will give them the “real deal”.
These four pillars dictate how reviews can be optimized to best suit the business world. Luckily for both businesses and their prospective suppliers, after we arrived at these pillars here at Kinnek, we didn’t just sit on our hands. We went ahead and built it! Kinnek Reputation offers B2B reviews that can power the way businesses discover the best suppliers, and change the way suppliers control their reputation online.
Here are some examples of actual B2B reviews of suppliers on Kinnek. As you can tell, these are more than just reviews of the type you’d write about a restaurant you ate at last night. These are mini-stories about a customer’s experience, communicated from one business owner to another:
If you’re a small business that wants to learn more about how Kinnek Reputation can help you learn more about a supplier, or if you’re a supplier that sells to businesses and wants to learn more about how you can use Kinnek Reputation to build trustworthiness among your customer base, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (800) 784–3151. We’d love to chat more!
Karthik Sridharan is co-founder & CEO of Kinnek.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he was formerly a Researcher at AQR Capital Management. He’s passionate about helping small businesses, breakfast cereal, the Utah Jazz, and mangoes.