Sunday, June 05, 2005

Fixing Consumer Reports: what would I do?

I wrote earlier about where I think Consumer Reports is failing to deliver value: Faughnan's Notes: Consumer Reports: the paradox of a consumer organization that hates its customers.

So what would I do if I ran the place? (I'm sure you're keen to know.) Well, if it were possible to provide CR with feedback, this is the plan I'd propose. (Maybe someone else will create this business?).

1. Launch a new initiative called 'Quality First'. Plan a marketing campaign around it.

2. Quality First has two components, one for cooperating companies, the other for all the rest.

2a. Cooperating Companies: The Quality Audit
- cooperating vendors agree to provide an auditing firm with the data they have on return rates, defect rates, service satisfaction, etc. They agree to survey customers who have service done on their satisfaction with the work. They agree to participate in staged service calls run by consumer reports.
- cooperating vendors get special placement in all CR reports. They are 'Quality First Gold Members'. All ratings of all products have a new column called 'Quality Gold'; participants get a check, others don't. Quality Gold members get a separate call out rating.
- in Phase II of the program participation in the Quality Audit, and the 'Quality Ranking (see 2b) become important factors in overall rankings.

2b. Non-cooperating companies: Quality Ranking Estimated
- non-participating vendors don't get the Quality Gold benefits.
- non-participating vendors still get quality estimates done by reviewing Amazon user reports, web complaint sites, CR member surveys, etc. When in doubt they get low quality rankings. If they don't like it, they can join the Gold program. Complaints must be weighted by sales volume of course.

3. Quality Rankings
- Quality rankings are calculated based on warrantee periods, service records and surveys. They become a strongly weighted part of product rankings.

There, I've done CR's business plan for them. If they take it, it could revitalize their business. Too bad there's no way to send it to them!

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