US membership organisation MRA (Marketing Research Association) has launched a portal where clients, agencies and sub-contractors can evaluate and comment on each other's services online.
The new Exchange Evaluation Program (EEP) provides a platform where MRA members and non-members can post feedback about their research relationships, with reviews based on ratings of quality, communication and other factors that are key when selecting a service or product.
To ensure a reviewer's anonymity, only a numeric ID number is shown, and this number can never be used by other EEP users to find contact information relating to a review.
After a review is posted, it is held for 48 hours for verification by an MRA staff member who checks that the project actually took place, but does not censor the comments in any way. Once verified, reviews are featured individually until such time that 10 reviews have been posted, when the scores become cumulative.
MRA CEO Larry Brownell told DRNO that the EEP is the result of a two year consultation initiated by members who had requesting such a service. Around 13% of MRA members are client-side companies who say they want agencies to be honest with them when providing feedback at the end of each project.
'Similar to the system for providing feedback about purchases made on eBay, the EEP enables a two-way dialog for agencies to rate their clients and clients to rate the service they've received from their research vendors,' Brownell explained. 'For instance, an agency with experience of a client's unwritten rule not to pay bills in under 120 days, would be able to include this as part of their overall feedback to forewarn other agencies planning to do business with that client.'
If anyone posts a negative review which either party disputes, the MRA has a system in place to intervene to try to resolve the issue. If the posting is proven to be false, the MRA will take it down immediately. However, if the accused party sticks by their rating, and it cannot be proven to be inaccurate, then the feedback will remain in situ.
'Our goal is that the EEP will become the industry's worldwide standard for performance feedback,' said Brownell. 'It's not about policing the industry, it's about giving all parties in the business relationship the information they need to make informed business decisions.'
The MRA is currently publicising the system through other research associations, such as ESOMAR. Future plans include adding extra language options to ensure that the portal will be used globally.
Established in 1957, the MRA has an international membership made up of companies and professionals engaged in all segments of marketing and opinion research.
Web site: www.mra-net.org .
Last August, DRNO publisher MrWeb announced a partnership with the association, to provide MRA members with access to daily updates of global news and job vacancies while promoting MRA's services and programs to readers of DRNO.
All articles 2006-22 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.