The internet is full of haters and review sites are some of their favorite playing grounds, providing people with an outlet to share their (founded or unfounded) frustration with the world. They also give business owners a chance to see what they’re doing wrong, but up until now the owners have had no way to respond, even when they make the changes people ask for.
John Washam thinks he has come up with a solution to this problem with his new startup TalkToTheManager (TTTM), which allows the customer to communicate directly with business owners and managers through anonymous text messages. Washam hopes that this service will allow owners and customers to interact directly, ultimately cutting down on the number of bad online reviews.
As is the case for a lot of startup founders, TTTM is not John Washam’s first project. Previous startups include zKorean and PhotoGrindr, both of which are housed under his company ReadyPrompt, LLC. PhotoGrindr provides rapid bulk processing for images while zKorean is a Korean language learning program.
Adding TTTM to his already impressive resume, Washam has high hopes: he thinks this latest creation could be utilized in restaurants around the world.
How does it work?
When a company signs up for TTTM, they’re assigned a phone number, free signs and stickers encouraging clientele to use the service. If there’s an issue with the food or the bathroom is out of toilet paper or the customer just doesn’t like a server’s attitude, he can send a text directly to the manager, owner, and whoever else is connected through that number.
The manager then can decide whether or not she wants to respond to the customer in a message that will be sent to the customer’s phone and to the owner’s phone as well. Through this little exchange, the owner learns what problems her business is having and that her employees are taking care of them in real time.
The refining process
TTTM isn’t Washam’s only focus right now; he also has a full time job. Despite that fact, Washam is putting in the time to figure out how to best make his product work by talking to his customers and implementing their feedback.
Somehow it doesn’t come as a big surprise that a guy who developed a way for businesses to more efficiently respond to customer complaints is soliciting feedback and implementing changes based on the information he gets. It’s important to point out, however, because it’s a really essential step that every startup needs to take.
Always, always ask for feedback! Your customer is your best your resource as you develop your product. With every round of changes, go to them and see what’s working and what isn’t and then make those changes.
With Talk To The Manager, Washam has developed a simple, inexpensive product that responds to a clear need in the market. He’s listening to what his customers tell him and making changes, improving his product every day.
So now the question is: should Yelp be worried? Despite the fact that there will always be people who just want to hate, it looks to me like TTTM might be able to do just what Washam set out to do: reduce the number of bad reviews online and improve customer service across the board.