Question: How can an intermediary structure a service guarantee?

Our startup helps business owners and executives (our clients) engage high-quality business coaches and management consultants. In a sense, we are an 'online marketplace' for trusted business expertise.

As an intermediary, we charge a small transaction fee, as a % of the total engagement value we facilitate.

What is a good approach for us to structure a client service guarantee? We want to use this guarantee to differentiate ourselves as a 'quality marketplace', and create adequate financial reserves.

3 Expert Insights

This is a GREAT idea.

Have a look at how other intermediaries reduce risk for their buyers.  Visa and Mastercard both protect buyers from sellers who act in bad faith.  Google Marketplace recently added a similar feature.  EBay and PayPal have buyer protection systems.

Closer to your business model are eLance and ODesk.  Both are marketplaces for services.  They too provide various ways (escrow, structured payments, reputation management, reviews, etc.) to help buyers buy with greater confidence, and to enforce a code of conduct on sellers.

I suggest you study these and figure out how to best offer a sense of safety while not introducing new worries or fears.

Implementing this well will significantly differentiate your service.  Good luck.

You don't structure a service guarantee; you make feedback public. Think about eBay's feedback ratings. This pressures vendors to resolve any complaints promptly.

Unless you can convince coaches and consultants to offer a money-back guarantee, any refund you would offer would be insignificant.

But if you want to test the idea of convincing coaches and consultants to offer such a guarantee, you could rank them higher in your search listings.

What problem are you trying to solve? Is it that you will guarantee that when a client selects one of your coaches or business consultants they will get the results they are after? This is difficult because there are lots of variables.

Let's approach this differently. My clients are not buying my coaching or consulting...they are buying me. They want to know my story, my failures, my successes they are not interested in a sales pitch.

Here is my recommendation...Tell your story of what is your "big why" for launching this business. I would personally talk to each coach and consultant and to meet some criteria you create. What I would say is: I speak to each coach and business consultant and ask them these questions. Because like you I want to ensure these men and women are interested in helping you to make a difference not to make money. The first consultation is free to make sure there is a good fit.

Be transparent. Do not go after the guarantee angle because it is something you really cannot guarantee. People do not see this as the difference that makes a difference to select a coach or consultant.