Feb 27, 2012

New online guide for childcare settings

Last weekend the media was full of articles about the new ‘trip advisor’ style website which will allow customers to rate care homes and nurseries. The site is www.goodcareguide.co.uk and sparked a lot of debate about how it would operate, whether posts on it would be accurate and how it should avoid the type of criticism that Trip Advisor has attracted.

I was also asked to comment by some of our trade press, about whether I felt it was a good idea. Frankly, I don’t think it matters whether we think it’s a good idea or not, peer review sites are with us and seem likely to be here to stay.

When I book a hotel, I frequently look to see what other visitors have said about the site, but any criticism is always taken with a pinch of salt, and the overall tone of comments is far more important to me than one or two negative reviews. Customers are all different and one size rarely fits all, so there has to be room for many opinions on a service or product. In the same way, it seems to me that feedback on care homes and nurseries will be equally mixed, but at least gives prospective customers a chance to see what existing users think.

Websites like Netmums and Mumsnet have long had forums for parents to discuss childcare options and personal opinion is freely available. As service providers, we have to embrace this type of review and engage where we are able to – most sites allow the provider the right to reply. I am however, rather concerned to read that the goodcareguide site is going to allow providers to buy an enhanced listing, which would give them higher visibility and also enhanced rights of reply to comments. I had hoped this would be a truly open forum which allowed free dialogue, but it appears to be a carefully constructed basis for advertising and promotion of those providers who choose to pay to join the site. The operators will have to be careful, or the initial view that it is a fresh new forum may fade and it will simply become another listing site advertising homes and nurseries.

If you are one of our customers, what do you think of this new site? We have no comments about us yet, for any of our nurseries, so I will be watching closely!

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