Scratch your own itch: Chris Sommers

Just as Wes had the idea for Schedulefly from his experience creating schedules in restaurants, the ideas for most businesses come from people who have problems, or “itches,” and want to find a way to scratch them. Chris Sommers, owner of Pi Pizzeria in St. Louis, MO and Washington, D.C., recently decided to scratch his itch to reward not only loyal customers, but also customers who had less than perfect experiences and bypassed the comment card to use social media to vent their frustrations.

Chris and his Pi partner, Frank Uible, developed Sqwid, a simple rewards application that lives in your browsers and integrates with your social networks. What I like so much about this story is that Chris and the folks at Pi have been using Sqwid themselves, and they’ve seen the results. Here’s what Chris and Frank had to say…

Chris: “After successful trials in our own restaurants and resoundingly positive feedback from our guests, we are thrilled to open the platform to other business owners who wish to provide legendary hospitality where their guests live in social media. Let’s face it, social and other new media are the 21st century comment card. Our guests are talking about our businesses, but no longer at the water cooler or in a paper comment card. They are broadcasting their love for our businesses, as well as their frustrations, over vast social networks. We can either engage them by rewarding their loyalty and evangelism or addressing their frustrations, or we can ignore them AND the opportunity to grow and profit from these situations.

“Sqwid’s integration with Twitter allows a business to monitor mentions and discussions of a business or topic, then send personal rewards directly from the app, to either thank a guest for a positive comment or to remedy a bad experience. But it’s not just limited to Twitter – our guests let us know how we’re doing in emails, on Yelp, Facebook to name just a few. We can’t afford to ignore this. Sqwid allows a business to respond immediately, capitalizing on evangelism and nipping a potentially devastating situation in the bud.”

Frank: “In the short time we’ve been using Sqwid, we have ‘saved’ numerous occasions when we failed to meet guest expectations. Our team is certainly empowered and encouraged to provide Legendary Hospitality to fix a situation, but sometimes guests won’t acknowledge their frustration to us, but will quickly vent on social media. Sqwid allows us to extend that Legendary Hospitality to the social world. Guests also love to know that their feedback led to an improvement at their favorite businesses, and those businesses need a way to reward their guests for the input. At our restaurants, we were already doing all of this before Sqwid, monitoring many different platforms, trying to engage the guest by searching for an email to find out the who, what, when and where of their experience. If we were successful finding them and getting a mailing address, we often sent them a gift card to thank them or remedy a situation. Not only is the 2-3 days it takes that gift card to arrive far too long for a guest to wait for an acknowledgement, but we had no idea how the redemption of that gift card tied back to an experience at one of our restaurants. This was incredibly inefficient, it wasn’t measurable and we had no idea of the outcome of that effort.”

Chris: “With Sqwid, guests show a reward on their smartphone to a business associate, seamlessly tying the Reward back to a previous visit or feedback. Social Rewards by Sqwid enable businesses to acknowledge loyalty and drive business by marketing to groups of social media followers and their networks. “Unlike group coupon sites in which businesses hemorrhage cash flow, sending half of an already highly discounted offer to the issuing company in a feeble attempt at attracting new customers, Sqwid empowers a business to engage their most valuable and loyal existing customers, creating even louder evangelists. A Sqwid Reward can be tailored for a particular period of time or product and limited to a certain number of guests.

“A business needs to be empowered to reach and reward their most valuable customers, rather than wasting precious marketing dollars on the group coupon customers, only a small fraction of whom ever return to pay full price. Sqwid’s integration with users’ social platforms drives new business, as well, when Rewards are networked over social media by trust sources. Ideal for capitalizing on local events and trending topics on social media, Sqwid Rewards enable businesses to monetize discussions and captive audiences.

“The idea for the Social Rewards came to me when I was checking Twitter before starting a half marathon, noticing lots of chatter by fellow racers about carb-loading at my restaurants the night before or rewarding themselves after the race with pizza. Why not encourage that discussion to move into our business with a free pizza or some other big incentive to keep them talking about us?

Restaurants can sign up for a no-charge trial of Sqwid at Check it out if you share the same “itch” as Chris and his folks at Pi have had … until now!