The ratings game

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Billy MacInnes says the channel can pick up a few tricks from peer review websites

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26 April 2019 | 0

How should resellers be rated?

We know how vendors rate them, or rather how they are rated in the vendor’s ecosystem, through certifications and accreditations. This system can also be used by resellers to measure themselves against each other. Assuming the vendor and partner have done a good job of communicating what those accreditations mean, it also gives customers a way to gauge what a particular reseller can and can’t do.

For better or worse, that’s the way it’s worked for years.

But while the system serves a purpose, it doesn’t necessarily give a clear view of how customers rate resellers. The best most customers can get are testimonials and case studies on reseller and vendor websites. But those only give a partial view of what customers think of a particular reseller’s service because, obviously, vendors and partners only publish the good ones.

The other way of trying to decide how bad or good a prospective partner, until this point, has been word of mouth. That’s why I’m intrigued by a report that the UK & Ireland SAP User Group is introducing a system that allows customers to rate their experience with resellers using a model similar to TripAdvisor. To all intents and purposes, TripAdvisor is, to use the parlance, word of mouth digitally transformed.

Craig Dale, chief executive of the user group, told MicroScope: “Selecting the right technology partner can often be a painful process. We want our new affiliate member portal to become the ‘TripAdvisor for SAP partners’, so users can quickly make informed choices based on peer feedback.”

He went on to say: “We believe that over time, the portal will drive greater customer satisfaction and also help generate new leads – which is a win-win for both users and our affiliates.”

Good advice

This seems like an inspired idea. We’re all so familiar with TripAdvisor, we know how to use it and, for the most part, it’s effective. There’s no real reason why this type of system shouldn’t be adopted to give businesses a clearer perspective on what other customers think of resellers. I can’t see many reasons why vendors would be averse to this type of scheme either. Certainly, SAP doesn’t seem to have any qualms, judging by the comments from Fred Chauvire, SVP, global partner ecosystem, SAP EMEA North.

“This is a fantastic innovation,” he told MicroScope, “designed to help customers sync up with the best SAP partner to meet their needs. It’s a win-win for everyone – our customers get real insights into the partner ecosystem to aid their buying journey, whilst partners can share key information on their business to educate and inform new customers.”

While you might quibble over whether it truly is an innovation given that it’s merely replicating something that’s already widely used to rate hotels and restaurants, there’s no doubt it could shake things up for the channel if it was more widely adopted.

The one potential drawback could be if devious and nefarious people tried to use the platform to undermine their rivals by posting negative reviews. You have to assume there are ways and means of monitoring this type of sneaky conduct. In any case, the right to reply helps anyone who feels that they have been unfairly maligned to put their side of the story.

It will be interesting to see how this initiative goes but I can’t see why it couldn’t be more widely adopted by other vendors in the IT space. Can you?

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