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A disruptive UK start-up is coming to Australia to change how and when businesses hear from their customers

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UK-based point-of-payment rating system, truRating recently announced plans to launch in Australia.

The start-up success story, which has achieved significant growth since going live in the UK in February 2015, has recognised the opportunity to bring its solution to the Australian consumer analytics market, which it believes is ripe for disruption.

The company intends to bring a never before seen technology to the point of payment system, which allows customers to rate their experience at retail and hospitality outlets via EFTPOS.

The tech gives businesses near real time feedback about the quality of their products and services and empowers customers to provide feedback in a quick, simple and unique way and at a time when their feelings are strongest, as they are paying for the aforementioned products and services.

How does truRating work?

A rotation of five questions ensures that every paying customer is asked one simple, anonymous question via the payment terminal about one of the following aspects of their experience: service, value, experience, atmosphere and product.

Customers can rate their experience by pressing 0-9 (0 is terrible, 9 great). A massage parlor, for example, could ask, ‘Please rate your massage from 0-9’

Merchants can also add two questions of their own to the system, to hear about a specific customer service such as a new marketing campaign or store layout.

Each consumer rating feeds two websites where business owners can see their ratings over time, compare ratings against their competitors and get detailed analytics.

Consumers also have access to a recommendations site they can trust, with ratings from genuine paying customers.

The information collected through this process allows merchants to obtain crucial data collected during the customer’s interaction with the business, rather than hours or days after their experience.

Eyes on Australia after success in the UK

truRating CEO and founder, Georgina Nelson revealed that the technology has processed more than 400,000 ratings to date, seeing 40 per cent week-on-week growth and in the last couple of months alone, over 130 venues have gone live with truRating in the UK.

Also, there are commitments from some of the world’s largest retailers and hospitality companies to come on board later this year.

Buoyed by this success, the start-up is now looking to spread its wings across the globe, with Australia at the top of its hit list.

The company is set to invest heavily in the Australian market and is currently in the process of opening a Sydney office to better service their customers.

While a launch date has not yet been confirmed, the company is aiming to be in operation in Australia by early 2016.

The technology is currently being piloted in select retail and hospitality outlets across Australia, and shoppers will see it in their local stores in the coming months.

What is the story behind truRating?

We caught up with the lady behind truRating and she took us in-depth into her start-up and its Aussie ambitions. Here’s what Georgina had to share with Anthill.

truRating founder and CEO Georgina Nelson
truRating founder and CEO Georgina Nelson

What inspired you to start truRating?

In my previous life I was working as a lawyer at Which? (the consumer advocacy group – equivalent of Choice in Australia).

Whilst there I kept seeing the same problem coming up from several different sides – companies were desperate to hear from their customers but on average heard from 0.1 per cent, and consumers wanted to have their voice heard, but didn’t want to answer a 40 question survey about their salary, lifestyle choices etc. just to have a say.

Consumers were also shouting out for online reviews and ratings, but couldn’t really trust what they read as the sites could be so easily gamed.

Even the reviews that could be trusted weren’t representative of the vast majority; studies suggest that one percent of people provide 99 per cent of the content.

At the same time I began to notice that EFTPOS machines were being used for additional services such as to give money to charity or converting payment amounts into foreign currencies.

There was definitely a gap in the market and I had an idea about how to solve it.

I had the idea that if we could ask everyone one simple question on an aspect of their experience using the payment terminal, then businesses would be able to gather mass information from paying customers.

And from a customer’s perspective, it would be a quick, easy and anonymous way to provide feedback, using a device that they’re already interacting with.

Plus by creating a website where all the truRating businesses’ ratings are displayed, consumers could be assured of the validity of that feedback, because they know it’s coming from genuine paying customers.

So about 18 months ago, when I left Which? after having my daughter, I decided to go for it. I “recruited” my husband and then my best friend, our best man, my brother’s friend and a technical payments wizard to join me and it’s basically been a whirlwind since!

Over time we went from the bare-bones office of our living room to our current HQ – a great space in the heart of the City of London right next to The Gherkin. We’re expanding to Australia with our office based in Sydney and next stops are Canada and the US.

Why exactly do you feel Australia should be truRating’s next venture?

Australia is the perfect market for truRating’s first international expansion.  We know that merchants, payment companies and all Australians will love what we have to offer.

Our metrics in the UK show that 88 per cent of people provide feedback using our method and we have strong evidence to suggest this can be replicated in Australia.

Australian businesses understand the importance of customer-centricity and are looking for methods to maintain their competitive edge.

In our merchant discussions to date, there’s been enormous interest in accessing the truRating solution as quickly as possible – from the largest nationwide retailers to the smallest single-outlet coffee shops or hair salons.

In terms of potential Australian business take-up of truRating, our research in September 2014 found that 88 per cent of businesses are interested in using truRating.

Also that although 96 per cent of Aussie businesses consider customer feedback ‘very important’ or ‘important’, 46 per cent don’t collect customer feedback currently.

Furthermore, current customer feedback collection method limitations cited include low response rates (63 per cent), only unhappy customers rating (25 per cent) or not representative (50 per cent).

Also Australian consumers are keen to both give companies their feedback in a quick, easy and anonymous manner, and to be able to access trusted information on others’ experiences of shops, restaurants, and other amenities in their area.

Independent research by PureProfile in July 2014 found that 95 per cent of Australians would be happy to rate with truRating, 66 per cent would rate ‘often’ or ‘always’.

Also that 67 per cent of consumers who said they don’t give feedback currently, would via truRating and that 94 per cent would use the truRating consumer website (currently only 50 per cent use any consumer feedback website).

These findings are in line with the pre-launch research figures we saw in the UK, so we’re expecting to see very high consumer participation rates when we launch in Australia too.

And finally, Australia has a thriving payments industry, with a stable but competitive acquiring base and a few main players in the integration and terminal space, all of whom are looking for innovative solutions to provide to their merchant customers.

Coupled with Australia’s growing FinTech industry, this provides fertile ground for truRating to promote an innovative partnership proposition of mass customer sentiment capture via the payment terminal.

How has truRating been funded so far?

We had our first funding round 18 months ago, and so far we’ve raised £4.2 million. We’re currently undertaking another funding round to support our international expansion.

Along the way we’ve been amazingly fortunate to attract a group of fantastic angel investors who are experts in their fields (such as Peter Ayliffe, our Senior Independent Director, the ex-President and CEO of Visa Europe and Chairman of Monitise, Michael Murphy, our Non-Executive Chairman, the ex-COO of the Financial Times and CEO of the FT.com, Anthony Gutman, Head of investment Banking UK at Goldman Sachs and Chris Blundell, Global Head of Tech at Brunswick PR), and are backed by a family fund too.

One of the wonderful things about our angels (outside of their investments!) is that they’ve been extremely generous with providing advice and also the connections that we’ve been opened up to by association.

When I started this journey, I certainly didn’t have all the contacts I knew I would eventually need – such as the movers and shakers in the financial world or experts in payments technology and data analysis.

By connecting with the investors that we have, we have been able to extend truRating’s reach – not only in terms of potential merchants, but also in terms of partnerships with acquirers and payment providers, right down to bringing on board of the key founding members of the truRating team.

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