In this week’s Smart Talking, we chat to Gilles Bonvarlet, Founder of Very Good Service.

Hi Gilles, welcome to Smart Talking. Please tell us about Very Good Service and about what the company does.

Gilles: The aim of Very Good Service is to bring together in one place a selection of companies which are recognised for offering a very good service, either through quality award organisations or through our social media qualification scheme. The companies range from major financial institutions such as First Direct to local farm shops or restaurants and tourism/travel providers.

The idea is that visitors to our website can then find a comprehensive range of products and services under one roof, covering the majority of their needs such as shopping for fashion accessories, choosing a romantic hotel for a short break, designing their engagement ring, buying a cat flap, or ordering some chocolates!

Where did the inspiration come from for Very Good Service and how has it been received by consumers and companies?

Gilles: The inspiration came from multiple sources. Initially it arose from travel experiences in Asia where I found the service to be of the highest quality and always felt that Europe was not performing well in comparison. The idea was then reinforced by a couple of thoughts.

Firstly, companies which offer a good service are not recognised and thanked enough. People take it for granted and do not realise how valuable it is in the long run. Secondly, I found that since the beginning of the  financial crisis, too much importance is being placed on price and the shopping experience has deteriorated: customers find themselves spending an awful lot of time chasing deals and special offers to find that they have bought a sub-standard product designed specifically to be sold through mass marketing campaigns. I sincerely hope that when the economy recovers more emphasis will be placed on service.

The idea has been very welcome and we receive plenty of positive feedback from companies and consumers. At the last count we have in excess of 400 companies listed on the site.

How can those passionate about providing or receiving very good service from any type of business get involved with Very Good Service?

Gilles: There are many ways. For a company, the most obvious one is to use the existing routes and become listed on the site either because of a reputable award or because the company is able to demonstrate the quality of its service via a suitable number of endorsements. These are collected on our Facebook page for “B to C” companies or via our LinkedIn group for “B to B” businesses. As an alternative, we are very interested in looking at set of customer metrics prepared by companies themselves as long as these are auditable and regularly updated.

We are also open to exploring new ideas and ways for companies to demonstrate how well they are doing via new initiatives, using social media channels or others. This is exactly what happened with Facebook initially when a company approached us with the idea to use Facebook to collect customer testimonials. There are strong benefits in being innovative in that space but sometimes it takes a bit of courage if you are the first one to do it.

For individuals, the best way to get involved is to give us copious feedback on companies they deal with on a daily basis, promoting the good experience they had with them. This can be as simple as a mention on Twitter (which we disseminate to thousands of followers) or writing about their experience on our blog.

The current economic climate is particularly challenging for businesses everywhere– how is your business coping with that – any positives coming out of the experience and any advice for others?

Gilles: Like many others we would like the climate to be more buoyant: it would encourage companies to spend more freely. But looking at it positively, the economic pressures are forcing companies to think about the fundamentals of their business and leading many to realise that customer service is a key component. That will be good for us in the long run.

Do social media and digital technology have a place in your business?

Gilles: Yes both are critical to us. We use social media, Twitter in particular, to identify new companies which could become listed on the website. This is facilitated by the fact that we regularly receive new suggestions from our followers. Twitter is also very useful to communicate with companies already listed on the website, to hear their latest news and learn about awards they may win. Finally Twitter allows us to stay in touch with the Customer Service community.

Facebook is used more as a platform for endorsement where we collect feedback from customers of companies which wish to become listed on We also use Facebook to share our own news and help our own marketing. We have also recently started to use Google + but it is still early days and we need a little more time to define its contribution.

What is Very Good Service up to at the moment?  Any news you would like to share with us?

Gilles: Plenty of ideas in our folders! Our key priorities are to continue to increase the scope of our coverage, add depth on the service metrics side, identify ways to increase the community aspect of what we do and partner with companies which want to innovate in the field of customer service.

Many thanks for Smart Talking with us, Gilles. We wish you all the best with future developments.

For more information visit or follow on Facebook or Twitter.

Read the Very Good Service  Blog or find more on Google +

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