Receiving the gift of (online) customer feedback

There is a growing list of websites that are dedicated to allowing customers to share feedback and reviews with each other and even the companies they are rating. These sites can be a powerful tool for companies that are willing to listen and act on what they hear. The sites can also dramatically hurt businesses that aren't paying attention or are unwilling to take corrective action.

Here are just a few sources I've found to be quite helpful:

consumersearch. This handy website compiles product reviews from multiple sources. Last night, I used it to check out vacuum cleaners. I've wanted a Dyson for awhile, but Consumer Reports gave it mediocre ratings. A quick check on consumersearch revealed that most people were overwhelmingly satisfied with it. I wonder if the Dirt Devil and Hoover folks are checking this site?

yelp and kudzu. These websites feature user-generated reviews of local area businesses. These are great sites for small businesses to be aware of.

Get Satisfaction. This site takes it a step further by allowing customers to provide each other with tips and ideas on resolving customer complaints. This site primarily features larger companies, and the smart ones are joining in on the conversation to spot (and fix!) customer complaints quickly.

epinions. Another great site for customer feedback, especially on service providers.

Industry-specific Feedback
There are a lot of website that offer feedback for your specific industry and a customer-focused company would do well to pay attention to what your customers are saying. The hospitality industry has many sources to choose from, including Expedia, Travelocity, and I've also used Service Magic to find home improvement contractors and even get quotes from registered service providers.

Check out this helpful article from Inc. Magazine for more information on customer feedback tools.