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Harnessing the power of ‘e-preciation’

Published on Thursday, 15 Mar 2012
Despite initial doubts by naysayers, Danny Chan and Karen Au’s portal of compliments now has more than 2,000 registered users.
Photo: Nora Tam

When you step into a department store or visit the websites of different companies, it is easy to spot channels to file complaints, be it via e-mail or the complaint hotline. But what about praise? Seeing the lack of a systematic way to collect and present appreciation, Karen Au and Danny Chan co-founded Praisage, an online platform for positive feedback.

The duo work full-time on the website with the help of volunteers, and although they are not generating any revenue from their project, they hope to offer paid management consultancy down the line.

How did you come up with the idea behind Praisage?

Having worked as a front-line staff member and corporate consultant, we knew that front-line employees are very inspired by the  praise they receive from clients. As praise is a key element in boosting morale and performance, we came up with the idea of Praisage, which is a platform that consumers can use to post praise.

How does Praisage work?
The first step is to visit Praisage and register an account with an e-mail address. After you experience excellent service, you can post a message on the site to praise the staff or brand. You need to fill in the time and place that the good service took place, put in a subject and then elaborate on why the service is worth being acknowledged.

There is then a verification process to make sure the praise is objective and this will be displayed on the company page. Then we inform the service provider that someone has praised them. We write the shops to give them the good news. For chain stores, we e-mail management. So far, we have collected more than 300 praise-entries, and have more than 2,000 people  registered.

What do you think is the power of praise?

We think praise is of great value to a corporation in helping cut production costs and boosting staff performance.

The service sector tends to have a high turnover rate, with humble pay and long work hours. Praise is a powerful tool to boost staff’s sense of belonging, inspiring them to excel. Praisage helps companies to manage and collect praise and, in turn, helps to promote the company. We have developed the “We are a Praisage brand” to recognise shops and brands that have been praised on the site.

How do you think praise impacts corporate management?

Knowing how to give praise is an important quality in a leader. Management should know that if they care for staff, staff will care for clients and vice versa. If  management culture is built on praise, staff will be proactive and willing to deliver on customer service. I hope we can raise awareness on the importance of giving praise.

Were there any difficulties in setting up Praisage?
There are were many people who disapproved of our idea of collecting praises because they thought that nobody liked to offer praise and that everybody just wanted to complain. Some even suggested we should have built a website to manage complaints instead.

But we have faith in our idea. With the support of a group of friends who share the same belief in the power of praise, we finally launched Praisage in January this year.
Both of us come from marketing backgrounds, so we faced various technical problems while trying to set up Praisage. Also, being the first website of its kind, there were no examples to follow – everything had to be done from scratch.

What are your future plans for Praisage?

A mobile phone app will be introduced in September this year for consumers to make use of their smartphones to offer praises. We are also working on a photo competition to get participants to catch “praise moments” with their cameras. The competition will have an open section and a university-student section. We hope Praisage will raise consumer and management awareness on the importance of giving praise.

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