Nymwars - Anonymity and Customer Feedback. By Vijay Dandapani ~ Hotelier's outlook on NYC, travel and the industry Saturday, 7th June 2014
Nymwars may sound like a Scrabble bingo but it is short-speak for how users identify themselves on various social media platforms and UGC (user-generated-content);
Specifically, it refers to a tug-of-war between users who wish to remain anonymous and parties who demand the use of real names in online or virtual communications.
That ongoing tussle leads to larger question. Does the ability to give feedback anonymously lead to more constructive outcomes for business enterprises enabling, at a minimum, a more nimble response? Perhaps.
Most UGC sites such as Tripadvisor allow for monikers that are pseudonyms but only after the site has verified the identity of the poster. Apart from the tedium associated with registering it necessarily curtails spontaneity and, more importantly, limits a quicker response from the merchant.
While there are many UGC and other platforms that already afford anonymeity few, if any, offer real time feedback to businesses that the latter can use to react instantly. Sites that allow pseudonyms include AVVO (legal search), Urbanspoon (restaurants), Zillow (real-estate), RateMDs (Doctors' review) and Angie's List (crowd-sourced review site).
A recent tech-entrant is Quibble which culls customer feedback of any kind via text messages and provides a real-time stream to merchants. The principal presumption underlying the business model for Quibble is that by allowing anonymous and quick text messages businesses, particularly in the service industry, can seek to avert negative UGC comments.
At the employer-employee level anonymous feedback has long been recognized, if little used, source for the free flow of information to enable better work processes. A HBR blog report from a year ago points to the benefits of anonymous feedback suggesting that even "confidential" feedbacks where names are associated fail to elicit a thorough and accurate response.
At another level, the fact that some if not many consumers and users of the internet seek more than a degree of anonymity as well as the ability to keep aspects of themselves private was underscored by Google's recent implementation of a "right to be forgotten" measure that is particular to Europe.
Presumably, those features will be, at some point, extended to businesses as well providing relief to particularly to those who have been savaged at times by rigged comments or having come under new management seek to overcome negatives from the past.
Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city. Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York.
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