""Sqwid Ventures today announced its first mobile app and business owner portal. Sqwid was conceived by restaurateur Chris Sommers to marry social media, guest feedback, loyalty and hospitality.

Sqwid provides two services, one for guests or customers, and another for business owners.  For the guest or customer, it’s an app to both check-in to their favorite businesses and to provide a quick review to share with their network and the business owner.  Business owners can then view and manage the feedback in a hospitality portal, by engaging the guest and responding with a message and reward for their loyalty and feedback or incentive to return to the business.

“Sqwid arose from a frustration to keep up with all of the good (and bad!) things our guests were saying about our business across social media. We do our best to reply to everything that is said about us and acknowledge the loyalty of our regulars, but it can become a full-time job just monitoring it all, let alone engaging our guests to learn from our mistakes and rewarding them for their feedback and loyalty,” said Sommers.  “Guests are announcing to their networks when they arrive at a business, what they think of their experience–positive or negative–but there is currently no platform or scalable way to acknowledge them, thank them and get the details about their experience in order to learn and profit from mistakes.  Sqwid is a means to embrace the new model of feedback by letting guests be heard and to encourage them to provide constructive criticism.”

Unlike the controversial group coupon sites that pitch businesses with an attempt to attract new customers, Sqwid was designed to reward loyalty and provide hospitality in the social media world.  “Sqwid, too, will drive traffic to a business when users receive incentives for a return visit.  Their social networks will see that their friends are getting free stuff, just for helping the business improve from their feedback. If a business owner is listening to my friends’ opinions and improving as a result, I am more likely to respect and visit that business myself, if only to get rewards myself,” says Sommers.  Sqwid allows a business owner to increase top-line revenue by increasing the frequency of visits by their loyal fans and attracting new ones with visibility from its integration to guests’ favorite platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare.

Launching in Summer 2011 with an iPhone app, Sqwid plans to add Android support soon after.  Unlike other platforms, Sqwid allows a user to check-in, or “visit” a business and to review that business in one flow.  Users also take a photo of their receipt, or enter a receipt number, along with short responses, like “what did you like”, “what did you dislike” and “will I recommend to a friend,” similar to the coveted Net Promoter Score.  “This data is critical to a business, and allows management to act on feedback immediately, compare it by location, employee, time of day or any other way to improve. Guests love to know that their feedback led to an improvement at their favorite business, and businesses need a way to reward their guests for the input,” Sommers added. “At my business, we’re already doing all of this, monitoring many different platforms, trying to engage the guest by searching for an email to find out the who, what when and where of their experience.  If we’re successful finding them and getting a mailing address, we often then send them a gift card to thank them or remedy a situation. But we have no idea how the redemption of that reward ties back to an experience at one of our restaurants.  Not only is this incredibly inefficient, it’s not measurable and we have no idea of the outcome of that effort.”  With Sqwid, users show their smartphone app with a reward to a business, who can then tie the reward back to a previous visit or feedback.

 Business owners who currently struggle to grasp where to start or how to manage and embrace the 21st Century comment card are encouraged to sign-up for Sqwid’s prelaunch site at www.sqwid.com.  “Your customers are talking,” says Sommers, “and it’s time to listen and make the most of it.  Their experiences are no longer discussed just at the water cooler.  Rather, they’re broadcast to nearly everyone they know.  Whether good or bad, why not turn each of those experiences into a marketing opportunity, creating customers for life.”


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