New App Lets Customers Vent, Privately

These stickers for the iSuggest app can be found at participating businesses around Sac.

In a world of blogging, online reviewing, and social media, we have a lot of opportunities to shout about our customer experiences in public. Yet, where have all the suggestion boxes gone? A new, local app called iSuggest seeks to address this very issue, turning away from the public persona of sites like Yelp.

Unless you’ve been living in an Internet-free cave, you’ve probably heard of Yelp, the website that allows customers to review local businesses. Over the years, this foodie-centric site has taken grief from traditional food writers and restaurant owners alike for Yelpers’ ability to post snarky feedback based on a one-time bad experience that may or may not reflect the business’s otherwise consistent costumer service, or to praise a sloppy business because their mother runs it.

If you’re one of the many passive customers who long to leave feedback (good or bad), but don’t feel the urge to splash it all over the public internet, this Sacramento-based free app was recently released just for folks like you. iSuggest offers a way to send immediate, even anonymous, feedback to business owners.

What’s in it for the person leaving feedback? Business owners who opt in are encouraged to offer rewards or coupons for helpful suggestions. Of course, business owners love it because it eliminates public complaining, an opportunity to correct the problem and directly communicate with the person leaving feedback.

“This is a win-win,” says Sacramento’s Matt Brickley, iSuggest marketing director. “Customers have the chance to share their brilliant ideas, and businesses can correct errors or implement new ideas before negative public reviews hit the web. The result benefits the entire community.”

Based on the app’s description, a customer can “view the progress of your suggestion as it gets delivered, read and responded to along with any follow-ups from either you or the business management.”

Several local businesses have already signed up, including De Vere’s Irish Pub, Hot Italian, and Sacramento Comedy Spot. When you log in to the app, it pulls up a list of businesses in your immediate area using GPS tracking. There’s also a search function that allows you to pull up and leave suggestions for businesses outside your immediate vicinity.

I took this app for a test run. Downloading it to my phone and signing up for a free account was a snap. Searching for businesses was also easy. I made suggestions to several area businesses to get a feel for the app. It was easy to see when the business received my suggestion, and when they actually read it.

Time will tell if the businesses actually liked my suggestions—or will even implement them. It was certainly easy to send a quick note without posting for the whole world to read. After all, I’m not sure I would scoop up new readers by suggesting that the air conditioning vent over table 20 was way too cold, or that I really liked the music selection they played while I visited. It’s not exactly Sac-Eats worthy material.

For those of you privately burning to express your undying love for 100% cotton napkins, or the need for an extra garbage can in the ladies’ room, here’s your chance.

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