IRCE Recap: Should companies take control of their reviews?
Online reviews are more important than ever for customers everywhere in the buying journey. Because of this, according to Mike Ward, president and CEO of ThriftBooks and Jordan Garner, director of customer success at Trustpilot, letting customers do the reviewing and hoping for the best isn’t enough, and companies need to take an active role in both collecting and managing reviews. This was the main thrust of their session given at the Internet Retailer Convention and Expo in Chicago.
Mr. Ward discussed ThriftBooks’ piecemeal way of approaching reviews in the early days of the company, when he would sometimes Google search the business and find a negative review that had been up for months.
“That [negative review] sits there, like a big zit on your face that you can’t get rid of,” said Mr. Ward.
Mr. Ward and Ms. Garner advocated a proactive approach as an alternative to ineffective “Whack-a-Mole” responding.
Ms. Garner said soliciting reviews from customers was the first step. She said that without asking for reviews businesses could expect, at best, a 50/50 split of positive and negative reviews. Conversely, she claimed that 83 percent of a business’s reviews will be positive if the business actively collects them.
“Your advocates will speak up for you, you just have to make it easy for them,” said Ms. Garner.
Ms. Garner explained that businesses could implement various different collection vehicles (such as email, text messaging or embedded review forms) depending on the desired type of feedback, and could do so along differing timelines, with accompanying calls to action. She noted, however, that response rates tended to be better if no incentive is offered for the reviews.
The second step of the strategy discussed was responding to negative reviews apologetically and with a real intent to resolve the issue, turning critics into advocates. The final step was leveraging reviews through sharing on social media, using for promotional purposes, encouraging customer advocacy and mining reviews for insights.
“If you have a marketing person taking care of your reviews, change that today — get it to be a customer service function.” said Mr. Ward.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How important is it for a retailer to treat review management as a customer service function with a full strategy behind it? Can businesses go wrong in soliciting and trying to manage reviews? How?