By Claire West

Consumer’s fail to check for qualifications when choosing service providers

A survey by FreeIndex, the popular UK business information website, has revealed that trades people prefer to rely on word of mouth when demonstrating their worth to new customers, rather than relying on formal qualifications.

In the survey of over 1200 small businesses, 91 per cent said they rely on positive word of mouth to establish credibility with new clients, while only 2 per cent said they would ask for qualifications or certification.

Martin Turner, Managing Director at FreeIndex, says, “We were surprised that word of mouth is so heavily relied on, particularly across trades such as plumbing or building where qualifications or accreditation are crucial to prove credibility, and often a legal requirement."

“It’s more startling that many businesses have ignored their hard-earned qualifications and accreditations as a way of demonstrating their worth to customers.”

Andy Oakley of Oakley Plastering, a FreeIndex user, argues that businesses should not rely exclusively on word of mouth as a means of demonstrating value to new customers.

Oakley explains, “While I think word of mouth can be a great way for a business to spread credentials to new customers, it’s open to abuse by unscrupulous businesses looking for a way to drive trade to them from competitors."

“The other issue is that businesses have nothing tangible that demonstrates their quality, unlike third party online recommendations and qualifications which are clearly displayed on FreeIndex and can be shown anytime. I prefer to use a mixture; it keeps customers happy and shows that I’m qualified.”