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For an outsider perspective on just how important that is, we recently caught up with online accountancy firm and customer, PennyBooks.

We did have a call with Trustpilot but to be honest they're really expensive. Their monthly quote was never going to work — we had a call and they said the number, I was like ok, well thats just not an option then.

The Interview

PennyBooks launched just over two years ago with the purpose of providing a fair, accessible accountancy service to a new generation of small business owners.

Founding partners James Watson and Brandon Dallas wanted to move away from old school accounting, and instead create partnerships with clients looking for modern day solutions that meet modern day business needs:

It’s kind of what those challenger banks and some of the FinTech companies have managed to do for their industries - we’re trying to go after it for accounting.

Now with 75 clients on the books - a mix of one man bands and small limited companies - PennyBooks have set themselves apart with a unique take on branding.

With most of their competitors sticking to the rigid formalities of the industry, formalities that go a long way to cement its less than exciting reputation, PennyBooks’ branding is lively, creative and targeted at a specific market:

We tried to shake it up a bit and do something different. A lot of our clients are professional freelancers/contractors but in the creative industries. We’re hoping to appeal to them as people who can speak their language a little bit more.

Of course, an important aspect of good branding is authentic content. PennyBooks’ strategy includes a mix of educational resources, case studies and useful features like a salary calculator.

There’s also a strong focus on social proof, and they continue to reach out to the creative market by sharing content collected through across Instagram:

It’s important to get it out there, what people are saying. I think for us reviews were always going to be a part of the content strategy.

For PennyBooks, review collection isn’t the quick fire, high volume approach you’d take as say, an eCommerce store. It’s more methodical and personalised. James uses a combination of our quick invites, reminders and personal emails to encourage conversion, and intends to use SMS invites to boost this further.

How you approach review collection is key to success, and it’s something we focus on as part of our initial onboarding process. James explains that for PennyBooks, this process was quick and easy, and that there was always someone on hand to help out with anything they were unsure of.

You’ve gained a client's trust, they’ve decided to come on board. You keep that trust in doing a good job in the beginning. If you nail that beginning bit you set yourself up well going forward.

Follow up calls and emails in the weeks after helped to build this trust further and, like James we think strong communication from the start is an incredibly important part of good busines.

It’s also great to hear that James chose as an alternative to TrustPilot, who’s fees, along with lengthy contracts, proved out of reach and unreasonable given what PennyBooks needed from a review collection platform.

Those requirements were (and still are) essentially to stand out and build a strong client base by showcasing authentic reviews:

If you look at our better competitors, most of the bigger ones have got reviews on their site. It gives us a bit more credibility, and it looks good on the website.

In terms of moving forward, James highlights the importance of 3rd party reviews to boost your credibility score, and that PennyBooks see feedback as a way to improve brand perception:

If people believe reviews and they take them as a credible piece of evidence or content, then they’re always going to have their place in a businesses marketing.

The flip side to this is negative reviews which, if handled badly, can have a damaging effect on brand perception. That said, when handled with care, they’re a great opportunity to deliver exceptional levels of customer service.

Though PennyBooks have yet to receive any negative feedback, how will they handle it if and when they do?

If we get a negative review, we need to take it onboard, respond to it appropriately, and then mid to long term, actually try and change what they’ve highlighted.

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If you’re after some impartial advice on review collection or want to know more about how can support your business, our customer service team is on hand via live chat.

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