Friendknows: The next generation review platform5 years ago Shalini B
Today, we have the most convenient tools to make our shopping experience effortless – from specifications to customer feedback to ratings. But often, having so much unorganized information pose as a disadvantage than beneficial. Existing online consumer reviews are unstructured and unsystematic in nature, making interpretation of these reviews an enormous challenge for consumer and businesses.
Understanding this complex nature, Tarun Agrawal and Venugopal Allenki came up with a solution, they call Friendknows. This platform focuses on social connections, analysis and personalization to help consumers take an informed decision, in turn producing effective insights to improve business efficiency as well as customer satisfaction.
This startup replaces the traditional way of review through written content, with a product (or service) specific characteristics based review interface. It also provides easy analytical tools to customers making it easier to narrow their search results based on the specifics and demography. Adding personalization (as they would like to call it) to the reviews, they aim to assist the customer to consume reviews from those they consider as like-minded. Their collaborative tools allow consumers to interact directly with other consumers and business giving them an additional level of trust before taking the decision.
Founders and founding story:
Not very long ago, on a rainy day, when everyone was in a hurry to head home from office, Friendknows co-founder Tarun saw his friend sit behind his laptop diligently, reading through a lot of blog like websites, as if to appear for an exam the next day. So he went up to him and asked, why he wasn’t leaving before it started pouring down heavily. He pointed to his screen and said – ‘Just trying to setup my new home. I wish there was a simpler way to analyze these reviews. It was so much easier for the older generation to buy stuffs- just ask your neighbor, relative, friends and buy it.’
Since this had been the story more often heard, Tarun along with co-founder Venugopal decided to treat the existing system to make it useful.
They add, “To fully understand the problem space, we researched the available review-based websites- their structures, the way of ranking one above the other and the tools to narrow down the search results. It didn’t take us too long to realize that although the existing online reviews gave customers an insight to help take a decision, they were missing the CONTEXT. Each comment on the web represented a different consumer and each reader had his own interpretation. This very gap needed to be bridged, in order to help the consumers, both at the receiving and giving end. Not only do these reviews confuse the reader who want to consume a product (or a service), it also does not help the business offering them. The business often cannot overcome a negative feedback without any kind of background knowledge of the consumer.
With this core ideology in mind, a further research led us to classify the problem into further smaller problems:
- Consumers always prefer giving ratings more than writing content. This makes sense as they are easy to input, but it also completely loses the semantic of the review
- Ratings are calculated (using simple or somewhat complex algorithms) and provide just an indication of how a product or service is doing overall. They do not tell us specifics about the product/service
- Most reviews are written in English language. This makes it very difficult to analyze. Only few tech savvy and sophisticated organizations have been able to process the content to capture customer sentiment
- Even on a descriptive comment, consumers tend to highlight the best and the worst portions in their experience. Thus, a reader does not get a complete picture of the feedback he was looking for
- Reviewer’s profile is not known to the users who are reading or analyzing these reviews. This inculcates a feeling of mistrust in the readers’ mind and an ambiguity in the minds of the business they are addressing”
The Friendknows way offers:
- An emoticon based review approach with the intention to capture the most comprehensive feedback in least time
- A ‘characteristics’ based form, which allows consumer to pick and choose to review from a set of predefined aspects of the business (or product). These characteristics are carefully chosen and categorized under each service and product
- Easy and interactive graphs that not only make it easier to narrow down (by concentrating on specifics) the results but also give a broader demographic view of the reviews to make an informed choice
- Personalization, the appropriate way to filter out reviews that suit customer preference (location, gender, friends etc.), cutting down all the extra reviews not intended to form your opinion
- Collaborative tools to interact seamlessly with consumers, business and people you know through ‘Discuss’ platform and exchange information and clarify doubts before making up your mind
- Business to analyze the customer trends (and demographic distribution) for both who consume and do not consume their business, which characteristics are their best sellers and which are taking away their customers
- Business to interact directly with their customers to work on their feedbacks, offer them lucrative discounts and keep them engaged
- An integration technology to receive and display reviews on any digital medium (website, mobile app, thick client etc.)
Tarun and Venugopal are the founders of this startup and they are currently bootstrapped. With a small team Friendknows currently serves Spa, Salon, Gym & Fitness and Movies categories in the city. They have 300 clients who are making use of this platform to receive and analyze feedback. Further, they intend to launch Friendknows for more product lines and services.
Kudos to the duo team for this amazing startup. May you have more success stories to your plate.