Do References Matter?

Service Companies provide references to back up their services, but even bad service providers have some good references.  Shouldn’t there be a better way?

I have worked in Facility Services for over 30 years, and I worry that we have a growing reputation problem. Our industry is flooded with service providers, and it is very difficult for good companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors offering inferior services. Customers ask for references, but this rarely provides an accurate picture of the quality of services provided by a company. Even companies who provide poor quality services can find three or more references among all their clients.

How do we as an industry come up with a system that identifies companies that are delivering a truly superior service and differentiates them from companies with good public relations or social media skills?

Slick proposal documents and a few references are all we give a client to make a decision. Larger companies have better brochures, paid proposal writers, and graphic designers. All of these result in more attractive proposal documents, but have little or nothing to do with providing better services.

Online reviews can help, but paint an inaccurate picture, at best, of a contractors true capabilities. And it is too easy to have paid reviewers “pad” your online profile.

What can good small companies do to show how good they really are? I am suggesting we need a change, and asking for your suggestions, or examples of what you have done to stand out in a very crowded space.

Scott Murray is the President of Confluence Solutions – and is passionate about providing outstanding customer service experiences and Raving Fans for service businesses.