Start-ups can learn from the best and worst brands as rated by consumer website Product Review, which has highlighted the importance of product quality in addition to customer service.
According to Product Review, Dodo is the worst brand of the year, angering customers with its slow speeds and service delays.
The ratings were calculated by looking at the average star rating on reviews for brands that had received more than 100 responses in 2012.
Nestle was voted second worst brand followed by washer-and-dryer maker Simpson, home appliance maker Whirlpool and Australia Post.
According to Product Review spokesperson Samuel Williamson, the Nestle brand was “tarnished” by a baby formula that attracted hundreds of negative reviews from parents.
Simpson and Whirlpool attracted complaints over quality, while Australia Post was slammed for its bad customer service and lost items.
Meanwhile, Apple was rated the best brand of the year, followed by pram maker Steelcraft, vacuum maker Dyson, and home appliance makers DeLonghi and Breville.
According to Williamson, it all comes down to customer service and the quality of your offering.
“Australian consumers don’t expect a hell of a lot when it comes to customer service but they do expect to be treated well and fairly,” he says.
“If they can get a response or someone is listening to what their complaint might be, it makes a huge difference.
“The top brands – a lot of them are extremely good at this. Their in-store support is excellent but also their support online is generally very good.”
Williamson says while it’s surprising to see big names such as Simpson and Whirlpool named and shamed, it suggests customers are less loyal to brands than they have been in the past.
“You never know what a customer is going to say about a brand or a product they buy,” he says.
Williamson has some key tips for start-ups.
“Whatever it is you’re selling, whether it’s a product or service, be extremely good at that and all the things that go with that,” he says.
“For example, Steelcraft do strollers. Based on their reviews, people find their strollers light, sturdy, easy to clean and compact – they can be placed in the back of a car.
“They’re just a stroller brand, but the actual product is actually brilliant so everyone who purchases them thinks they are great.”
Williamson believes every brand needs to be part of the “caring and sharing” trend as opposed to the “selling and telling” trend.
“The need to listen online is more evident today than ever,” he says.
“In the past year we’ve seen a 38% increase in visits to the site each day, and we believe this will rise in 2013 as consumers continue to trust reviews over traditional marketing messages.”
Williamson says start-ups need to accept the fact that customer reviews will become more common as online retailing continues to grow.
“People have a whole set of what they want from online. If you don’t sell online, consumers at least expect consumer support to be easy to use,” he says.
“Going forward, we can see people will be looking to reviews more and more.”