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Turning customer reviews into real revenue

Monday, March 19, 2018
customer reviews equals revenue

On the 16th of September 2019, Google changed the review Rich Snippet guidelines which are outlined in this blog. This webinar was recorded beforehand.

Here's what you need to know:

  • SEO Service Review TrustBoxes no longer display Rich Snippet stars (this impacts service reviews from all providers, not just Trustpilot).
  • Product Review SEO TrustBoxes and Google Seller Ratings (GSRs) aren't affected by this change.
  • Company Profile pages on Trustpilot.com will still display Rich Snippet stars. If you'd like to find out more, please read Trustpilot's explanatory blog post.

How Customer Reviews Benefit Your Business

Customer reviews do more than just provide feedback. They can shape consumer behavior, improve your SEO, increase your conversion rate, and most of all, they increase trust - a quality that all companies can improve upon.

However, customer reviews can also increase your revenue by driving up the value of your brand, your marketing, and your customer experience.

In this webinar, you’ll learn how to optimize the customer feedback cycle from Zendesk, learn how Skyscanner was able to use reviews to grow and improve upon their company, and learn how Trustpilot can help you begin the review collecting process.

Check out our webinar recording below.

Why does Trustpilot exist?

For consumers, we are really a tool to help consumers make better buying decisions. For businesses, we have a fast solution that helps businesses improve and grow via a customer review strategy.

About Zendesk

For those of you unfamiliar with Zendesk, they build software for better customer relationships. Their growing family of products help organizations understand their customers, improve communication, and offer support where and when it's needed the most. At the bottom of the slide, you can see the products that make up the Zendesk family. But the one that we'll be focusing on today is Zendesk support. It's a beautifully simple system for tracking, prioritizing, and solving customer support tickets.

Zendesk and Trustpilot

The Zendesk and Trustpilot integration, it was really a no-brainer for our teams. We found that so many of our mutual customers already had manual processes in place to manage these customer reviews. With this integration, our customers are really able to automate these processes and consolidate all of their reviews in one place. That's really allowed our customers to engage with their customers in a much more meaningful way while saving both time and money.

Some of the key benefits our customers have seen by consolidating their communication in one place are increase in agent efficiency, more actionable insights, and an increase in retention and revenue. The first one, this boost in efficiency, comes from agents that no longer needing to log into separate systems and follow a manual process. By automating these tickets, they appear right in Zendesk alongside all their other customer communication channels.

By using our analytics and machine learning capabilities, our customers can better understand and predict customer satisfaction, measure performance, and uncover actionable insights across their data. This improved customer experience as felt by existing customers and seen by potential customers, which can ultimately lead to increase in retention and sales.

Why customer reviews?

Why are we even talking about them today? We're going to touch on this just for a brief moment. The reason we're talking about customer reviews is because we have entered something that Forrester named the Age of the Consumer, saying that companies must become customer obsessed and the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge and engagement with your customers.

As time goes on, as more and more companies enter the marketplace in various verticals, the differentiator that rises above the rest is customer experience. Leveraging that customer experience not only for your existing customers, but for prospects, for people you're trying to entice, to work with your company is becoming more and more important, because traditional advertising is becoming less effective. Traditional advertising has really, over the years, become less effective because consumers don't trust it as much. But what consumers do trust are customer reviews. Actually, they trust customer reviews the second most out of all forms of advertising, second only to recommendations from family and friends.

How reviews impact consumer buying behavior

The first stat I'll show to you here is that 90% of consumers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. The interesting part of that is that's not only online buying decisions. Also, brick and mortar buying decisions are also influenced by online reviews. Obviously, that's the huge majority of consumers.

In addition to that, 72% of consumers will take action after reading a positive review. This is something that I think is often surprising. A lot of folks have the preconceived notion that consumers will only react to negative reviews. If a consumer reads a negative review, they will definitely not purchase with your company or what have you. That's not necessarily true. In fact, consumers have a much more innate reaction to positive reviews rather than negative reviews.

The third stat I'll show you is customers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews. The cool part of that is that reviews aren't only influencing whether a consumer will or will not purchase with you, but it will actually influence how much they choose to spend with your company. Pretty compelling evidence there for why it is very important to harness the power of customer reviews. We're going to talk about how we recommend you do that today.

The first piece of it is talking about the customer feedback cycle that we think you should implement at your business. The way we often break down the customer feedback cycle are into these four steps. The first, monitoring customer feedback that's out there on the internet. The second, actively soliciting feedback from your customers. The third, proactively managing that feedback as it comes in. The fourth, responding to and resolving feedback that you've received. Let's dig in lightly on each of these steps.

Monitoring customer feedback

The rule that I usually apply to is that you should always be listening. There's four key questions, four key steps that they went at. First, what's already out there on the web about your brand? You want to go out and find everything there is to find, whether it's on social media, through search. If you're using search, make sure you check both local and global search, both paid and organic, or any other forums that might have information or commentary about your brand. Make sure to not only check your brand but misspellings of your brand. Also, major products, if your product has a different name than your brand, all of those things are important to check.

What are prospects finding during the conversion funnel?

Everything that's out there on the web about your brand is relevant because it may or may not surface at any time. But the most important stuff is the stuff that prospects are actually finding. A good way to tap into this is using different analytics tools. If you have Google Analytics, or Omniture, or WebTrends, something like that, you can get a good read on how people are getting to your website. Also, tools like Google Trends are good to check to see what are the up and coming search queries that people are using to find you. The other really important thing is don't forget to ask prospects and customers that come to your brand that find you. Ask them how they found you, ask them what they discovered before they made contact.

What existing reputation sources out there are good, medium, and bad?

Some of the criteria you want to consider, first of all, obviously, is the content that they have about your brand positive, negative, or neutral in nature? The second thing you want to consider is, do you have control of the content on that brand asset? Do you have complete control? Can you change it to whatever you want? Do you have some control?

A social media profile is a good example of some control. You can update some of the main profile information, but you can't control everything that's said on it. Or do you have no control whatsoever? No control whatsoever would be like an article, a news article written about you or something like that. The reason that's important is because even if something talks about your brand in a positive sentiment right now, if you have no control over it, it could flip later and that would be bad if that was something you were promoting.

Are these reputation sources temporarily showing up just because it's a new article, so it's getting a lot of freshness, putting it to the top of the search results, or does it have longer-term potential? After you've evaluated these existing sources, you want to keep actively listening and reevaluating. There are so many wonderful free and very low cost tools out there to set up alerts for yourself, listening tools, social listening, but also just web listening. I encourage you to set up lots of those for lots of different keywords. They can often give you a lot of insights what people are finding.

Actively soliciting feedback

Now that you're listening to what's happening naturally, you also need to make sure you're proactively asking. This is why. If you are not proactively asking for reviews, the best scenario that you will see is a 50/50 split of positive and negative feedback. The reason this is true is just simple consumer behavior. When a consumer experiences a very negative experience with a company, they're much more likely to want to go out there and talk about it, versus a positive experience of equal fever. That's very, very, very important.

A lot of companies come to us and they're very scared of customer reviews. They're very scared of collecting feedback, because most of what they've seen in the past is negative. However, once you start proactively asking for reviews, you will see a much more balanced and fair representation of your brand. The study that this came forth from said that 83% once you're practically collecting of the reviews you get will be positive. At Trustpilot, we actually see closer to 87% of the reviews we get across the platform are four and five-star reviews. Just making it easy for your customers to leave that feedback, asking the simple question, "How was your experience?" is enough to really shift the balance there.

Here's some important considerations when you decide to do some proactive review collection. What do you want the focus of your feedback to be? Do you want it to be on the buying experience using the website, the actual product that they get? If you sell something a little bit less traditional than traditional eCommerce or retail, some financial service products or software, you need to think about where in that customer journey is the best time to ask to get the right type of feedback.

The collection vehicle

A lot of folks use email, but there are other options besides emails. For example, Trustpilot offers an embedded review form that you can take and put that review form right in your website on your Thank You confirmation page, or if you have some login portal within their. Timing, of course, we touched on this a little bit with the focus of the feedback, but also when is the right time to ask to optimize your response rate. You want to ask early enough that the customer still remembers who you are, but not too early that they don't feel like they can give you fair feedback yet, because that will lower your response rate.

What should the call to action be? You want one strong call to action. We do not encourage you to ask for review and also ask for a Facebook like and a Twitter follow and a million other things at the same time. That will hurt your response rate. One focused call to action. Should you offer an incentive? This is a question that we get a lot. We test it all the time. The vast majority of the time, an incentives does not significantly increase the response rate at all. We often find that just keeping your message very simple and say, "Wouldn't you like to provide feedback to help other consumers like yourself?" is a nice way to ask and give very good response rate. But for sure, try out an incentive. You want to optimize that response rate as much as possible.

Should you remind customers to leave that review? Our best practices remind only once. Not more than that and not less. You don't want to become annoying. The final question, where should you port all these reviews, where should they be collected? We really encourage you to focus all of your customer feedback in one or two main places. You can build up some quantity. Otherwise, if you're feeding customer feedback to 10 different places, you're going to dilute the effects of those reviews, because you'll never build up the quantity that you need.

Proactively managing the feedback

You've done all this work to proactively solicit or actively solicit that feedback, and this is really about making sure you put a process in place to manage that feedback. This first step is consolidating reviews into your customer support system. You can do this manually. You could build an integration or ideally leverage a pre-built integration such as Trustpilot and Zendesk have.

Next, you need to ensure you have the right people or teams in place. This will really help you automate tasks and remove internal bottlenecks. Once you have this in place, you can then route these tickets to the appropriate agents or teams, and then start to automate manual tasks, really finding that efficiency. From here, you want to make sure your agents have the right productivity and collaboration tools they need to respond to this new channel. Some of these examples could be like the right views to the reporting, conditional fields, or macros to have more automated responses.

Once you have all this in place, you're going to want to track these new tickets and gather insights from your performance to see where you can improve the overall customer experience. This might include sharing information back to other teams such as sales or product or fulfillment. That's, in a nutshell, managing reviews.

For a long time, Skyscanner has been a Zendesk customer and, more recently, a Trustpilot one too. They were really excited when the integration came along. It's really as straightforward as downloading the app from the Zendesk marketplace and then it hooks up really quickly with your Trustpilot account or in their case, accounts, as they've got several ones for different markets and languages.

Then they just configured some automatic triggers and tagging in Zendesk to pull certain tickets into the view that we want. They were most interested in looking at one, two, and three-star reviews, for instance, those where we really felt they needed a response and we had the best chance of turning them around into a more positive review. They would choose a main ticket view that set the priority as urgent. Then any of their global team can pick up those tickets, those reviews, and reply as soon as possible. They also set up a couple of email alerts using triggers to go out to people who had specific language capability, so then those would be handled by the right people.

Then they would just set up some macros in Zendesk with pre-prepared replies. Skyscanner use some dynamic content as well so that then they can have those in multiple languages. They also did some brief training with their agents around how they should handle these tickets differently to, say, a regular ticket that may have come through our help site and they're public-facing, so sometimes you need to handle them slightly differently. After that, they were pretty much good to go. The rest of ticket handling and adding specific tags to tickets for reporting works exactly the same as any other ticket that we have via any other channel. Really easy and simple.

Responding to the customer

Resolving the issue, and closing out that specific piece of feedback is so important. By responding to reviews quickly, you can show both that customer, as well as potential customers, that you're listening and you're really an engaging brand. Positive reviews are an opportunity to really delight your customers and a great brand loyalty reinforcement. Negative reviews, on the other hand, can be an opportunity to engage with these customers and find out if there's a better way you can improve on an experience that they've had with your brand. Not responding can actually be very detrimental to prospective customers who are deciding whether or not they want to spend money with your company.

Ultimately, the real goal here is to improve the customer experience in a really cost-effective manner. There's this added upside that by engaging your customers, you have the opportunity to increase retention of those customers and revenue that they spend with you, so like the real lifetime value. A little pro tip from our friends at Trustpilot, don't forget about three-star reviews. While they teeter in the middle, they're actually the easiest one to fix.

This was an awesome example that the CEO of ThriftBooks actually found and brought to our attention. They actually speak to it all the time in presentations. What happened was a customer left one of those snarling one-star reviews that we all know about saying that the ... They were complaining that their book was moldy and smelly. Because this ticket was created in Zendesk support, they automatically notified that, and the customer support team followed up right away and was actually able to correct the issue within a day. The customer was so delighted they actually updated their review to five stars. In this instance, not only did they win back a customer for life, but showcasing this customer service is key to winning over new customers as well.

Now that you know how to implement a review strategy, we're going to tell you how to actually turn that into revenue for your business. At Trustpilot, we generally break down the value driven by customer reviews into three pillars. The first, establishing a trusted brand. The second, accelerating your marketing investments. The third, improving customer experience. I'm going to dig into each of these very briefly.

Establishing a trusted brand

The first piece is empowering your customers to represent your brand rather than continually using marketing messaging to push out the value pieces that you want to emphasize. This goes back to what we talked about at the beginning, that consumers are increasingly not trusting traditional advertising. This really allows you to use authentic customer reviews to be your voice and your advertising.

Showcasing your trustworthiness

The second is to actually have a actual living document or living website that represents all the wonderful things about your brand. In Trustpilot's case, that's your Trustpilot profile page. But whatever review community or site, whether it's a Yelp page, your Tripadvisor page, whatever it might be, just having that third-party source that lives on the internet that is another piece of your web presence is very, very powerful.

Being able to take all these amazing reviews, these living testaments, and showcase them where it's most important is key here. Really using them to build your online reputation, have more positive web presence in organic search, as well as other critical channels and communities.

Accelerating your marketing investments

This is by far the most ROI easy to measure pillar that we're going to talk about because it's very easy to see how this can affect your different marketing channels. The first piece is just driving more traffic and cost efficiency across your PPC channels, organic search, social media, and all of your other digital channels through things like Google seller ratings, ad extension, having rich snippets stars show on your organic listing, and just leveraging your trust score and your authentic reviews across these channels.

Increasing conversions

Taking these reviews and leveraging them at key conversion points like landing pages throughout your website, product pages, your shopping cart, whatever it might be. The third is to further improve your visibility in organic search. While rich snippets actually help increase click-through in organic search, having a user-generated content, very keyword-rich, fresh, relevant content in the form of product reviews shared throughout your website can actually help boost your organic presence and rankings overall.

Let's dig into this a little bit. When we're talking about improving marketing performance specific to traffic generation, some examples that we most often refer to are in search, again, both organic and paid search, as well as things like Google Shopping and your product listing ads, all which can get those click-boosting stars in them. Another channel being any display advertising you're doing, whether it's retargeting, banner ads, some paid social. By adding that third party validation and those actual reviews, not only does it give your creative a fresh new look but it can increase performance significantly.

When we're talking about conversion and engagement channels, the key ones are actually on your website. Whether, again, it's your homepage, your landing pages, your product pages, including those reviews can boost conversion throughout social. Any organic social you're doing, it gives great content. The customer reviews to share that, again, breaks up your traditional marketing messaging. Email, especially if you have a longer conversion funnel where people might fall off or some shopping cart abandonment happening, try using reviews in email. We have seen awesome results with it and, again, it just gives you more good fodder to use in your key marketing channel.

Improving customer experience

When we talk about customer experience, we first talk about just understanding it, so getting valuable insights that you might be missing about how your customers perceive your experience and actually using those to change processes, as well as make more effective messaging. This was a great example of a customer that learned from the reviews how customers talked about their service and updated their marketing messaging and made it more effective.

Actually reducing churn and increasing retention. Whether or not you're a subscription-based or a transaction-based business, by identifying and resolving issues for individual customers, as well as understanding what are the overall trends that are hurting your customer experience, you can actually make changes and increase your retention.

Really maximize your happy customers

If somebody is willing to leave you a paragraph-long, five-star review, they're also probably willing to share that review on their social media channels, give you five email addresses, a friend that might benefit from your solution as well. This is really important. Identifying those happy customers is just as important, if not more important, than identifying the ones that are unhappy, and really cultivating advocates, as well as customers that come back and shop with you again.

All this comes back to customer experience mattering because customer experience is really the seed of building customer loyalty, so people that come back and shop with you again and again and spend more money with you, as well as the customer advocates which really means when your customer set actually start doing the marketing for you. Those are the value pillars.

We hope we really provide everyone with some insight to the value of engaging with your customers on feedback sites such as Trustpilot. By monitoring and proactively collecting, managing, and responding to reviews, this will help you improve your customer's experience and really build a stronger online presence. You can leverage this presence to really grow your brand loyalty to maximize your digital ROI and, ultimately, to increase your company's revenue. If you can measure it, you can manage it. We really encourage you to define your KPIs and ensure your whole organization is helping improve the customer experience.

If you'd like to learn more about the importance of reviews to increase conversions all-year-round, the article below is worth a read!

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