Customer Reviews are Mandatory

Business Tips and News

This week we chatted with Mike Herz from Shopper Approved to talk about why you must have ratings and reviews. It’s no longer an option.

There’s a book we’re currently reading called Hug your Haters by Jay Baer. In it he talks about how the average customer will complain about something 3.5 times a year and how it’s important to address those complaints.

We’ve been trying to develop that over the past year at Colman & Company and ColDesi. We realized that positive reviews are really important, but that finding the unhappy people and to turn them around is also just as important. It’s about taking a 2 star review and turning it into a 5 star customer experience.

It’s been vital to ColDesi. We send out emails to customer asking for reviews every time we complete a support call or purchase a product. The majority of our reviews are 4 or 5 stars, so we’re very proud of that. But for that small percentage that gives less than a 4 star review there’s a SWAT team of action that takes place. It’s been important for the quality of our company.

Another influence on us wanting to improve our reviews, is Geico. People know Geico, they have quirky ads on the radio and television. They boast about their 98% customer satisfaction. They found out a long time ago how important customer satisfaction is.

Mike, how important are reviews, based on the knowledge and experience you have in the review industry?

In the last few years everything has changed with social media. You have to have reviews. It used to be an option, but now reviews have become a standard resource for consumers making purchase decisions. It’s more of an expectation. You’re going to have a brand reputation. Whether you’re collecting reviews proactively or not. If you’re out there doing business on the internet, everyone is eventually is going to have an unsatisfied customer. Those unsatisfied customers will go out on any number of websites and seek them out to leave a low review. So if you’re not collecting proactive and positive reviews, from your happy customers, all it takes is one or two people that get frustrated and leave a bad review and suddenly you do a search and you have a 1.3/5 and your brand reputation is trashed.

That’s one of the things that motivated us to start getting reviews as well. So few happy people will take the time to go onto a review site and leave a 5 star review, unless you ask them. All you end up with is the haters.

That’s actually the business model of a number of our competitors. Where they have this passive, open forum webpage where anybody can leave any business a review. They don’t even have to prove that they’ve ever done business with them. They do this so that someone will get upset, search it out and leave a bad review. Then you as a business have to then pay them to manage your reviews.

 

My company doesn’t do it that way, we don’t have any open forum webpage. You actually have to be a verified customer to leave a review, because we don’t believe in the other business model.

If someone had a bad experience with your company, they may be vindictive enough to recruit their friends and neighbors to leave bad reviews as well.

I’ve seen a lot since I’ve been with this company. Disgruntled ex-employees can do a lot of damage in a short time.

That’s something that as a small business owner, you may have had some bad employees. If you haven’t hired any employees yet, you’ll soon find out that not everyone that you hire is going to be an awesome person. If you have to let someone go, there’s going to be people who will be vindictive. They’ll leave bad reviews.

A service like Shopper Approved, is specifically looking for people who have used your services, who have purchased shirts, etc. to leave a review on their experience.

You have to be a verified buyer. It just makes things much more honest.

Tell us how Shopper Approved works and how it solves that problem.

We have merchant and product reviews. We collect reviews from your customers. Those reviews are then displaced on a certificate that potential customers can view. They can be displayed on widgets on your website. And you get an overall aggregate rating. Those are then syndicated to Google, Bing, and Google Shopping, giving you stars in your ads. Increasing your click through and traffic to your website.

Not only are you managing your reputation, you’re going to get a flag if you get a low review so you can deal with it right away.

Many of our customers have some sort of ecommerce checkout. But many of them don’t. If they don’t have an ecommerce checkout, how does a company like that, leverage the power of reviews?

We have a number of ways of serving our survey. They ecommerce way, if they’re checking out on your website, is an initial pop-up survey that comes on the thank you or confirmation page. It can be as little as one question: “How would you rate your overall experience so far?” That same survey has a link, so your sales person can take the review on the phone, and the customer will get an email that asks “Did you leave this review, yes or no?” They click yes to confirm and it validates the review.

 

The second level is our full survey, which comes out via email, after the purchase is completed. That survey has additional questions and is customizable. If you’re using product reviews, it includes those in that full email survey.

Essentially if someone has an ecommerce store, a way to integrate the reviews would be to have your software on their website. Then when a customer checks out, it provides an option to give an initial review – using the store and checking out. Then after they receive their product, they would receive an email asking them to please review the product.

The initial survey has three questions: How would you rate your overall experience? Are you likely to recommend our site? Are you likely to buy from us again?

 

The only one that is required is the overall experience. Then the full survey asks about product services, overall price, and delivery time. Those questions are customizable and that would constitute your merchant or seller review that puts stars in your ad words. If you’re using product the full survey would say, here’s the t-shirt you bought, what do you think of them? They rate the product itself, and then as soon as they complete the product review it goes into the merchant portion of the survey. It is integrated into one email.

We’re in integration process right now with Colman & Company with Shopper Approved. We’ve doing a whole bunch of improvements on the Colman & Company website to include reviews, and to be better found on Google.

If a business doesn’t have an ecommerce store they can do reviews with their customers over the phone, or even face-to-face. They can then let their customers know they’ll receive an email to verify that review.

We have an in-store option for retail as well. You can just hand someone a device and they can do a review.

Everybody sees reviews and we’ve told them it’s very important, but we haven’t really said why. When you have researched anything to buy in the past, online, what is the second thing you do after you Google your product name? You look at the results, according to the reviews you get. If you’re buying from Amazon, or Google Shopping, the first this we do is look at the reviews. How many 5 star reviews do they have? What’s their average review? How many reviews do they have?

When we shop on Amazon we usually do it through the app and the first thing we do is hit filter, and select Amazon Prime, and 4 stars and above. Your customers are all doing the same thing. They all want to know, who you’ve sold to and if you have a good reputation. This is how you do it.

We’ve been doing reviews for years and so there’s hundreds of reviews on our website. However, we weren’t taking a sophisticated approach to ensure we were getting as many reviews as we could get. We were probably only getting 10% of the reviews we could have been, because we were just using simple systems and not trying to be too overwhelming to our customers. But we’ve had a customer come online and ask “Where are the reviews on this product?” We know we’ve had a hundred customers that have bought and love this product, but there aren’t any reviews. That was the moment for us when we realized we need to make reviews better, and take action now.

I went out and collected some numbers from studies, so I have a bunch of interesting numbers to share:

 

  •         57% of online shoppers will specifically seek out websites that have product reviews
  •         70% of those mobile shoppers reported being more likely to purchase a product if the site has reviews

 

Those are pretty big numbers. People look for this now, they expect it. If you’re the business that doesn’t have reviews and you’ve got 10 competitors and they do, you’re losing a huge chunk of business.

We get a lot of questions from our customers on what are some ways they can beat the competition. Our podcast on You vs. the Competition is the most listened to episode. People are consistently talking about how to get ahead of the competition and how to get ahead when the competition has a lower price, selection, etc. One of the ways that you could be losing business is that your competition might have easily searchable and found positive reviews from their customers.

One of the fundamentals you should do is to gather these reviews. We guarantee that if you look at your local competition, you’ll be the only one doing it. Be ahead of the game.

If you’re the first one in a particular space, in your area, the numbers are staggering. It can be a life changing thing.

If you’re an embroidery shop, even if you’re just a single-head, small embroidery shop, and you’ve taken the power of leveraging reviews – this means asking people to leave a review on Google, Facebook, or software like Shopper Approved – if someone does an online search in your city, and your company comes up and there’s 30 reviews that average 4.5 stars, what impact do you think that will have on the amount of people who will call you?

Mike, you guys push your reviews to Google correct?

Yes.

We encourage everyone to try this in their area. We Googled “Tampa custom t-shirts”. We’re looking at the three listings that have reviews in Google (there are more results, but only three with reviews). There’s one company with four 5 star reviews. The next company has 46 review with an average of 4.6 stars. And there’s fifty-three 5 star reviews on the third. Which company do you think we would click on next?

It’s interesting because the most effective rating is a 4.5 to 4.8, because people believe it’s true and they see enough reviews to validate it. It’s a good rating, but it’s not perfect. There’s actually a study online that you can read on this.

We’ve mentioned that people can leave reviews on Facebook and that’s something that everyone should start doing. If you have a Facebook page and have customers that like you, ask them to leave a review.

That’s great in custom apparel. I just also want to through this out there. I have a client, his demographic is 13-19 year old kids. He considered us a godsend for him because on his Facebook fan page these kids were leaving random, people that weren’t even his customers, leaving ridiculous jokey reviews. He couldn’t manage his Facebook reviews at all because there are no management tools. When he came to Shopper Approved, we have a syndication, where you can syndicate your 5 star reviews directly to Facebook. You’ve already managed and verified your reviews from buyers and no one can just click on it and leave you random reviews.

That’s really great that you can share that the reviews are verified.

People trust third-party review companies. Shopper Approved, we’re not a household name, but on the internet people recognize us. If you have a review solution that’s built into your platform, that collects reviews for display on your site, keep in mind that a lot of potential customers don’t trust those review collection processes, because you have the opportunity to erase any bad ones. With third-party Google partners, they look at those as trusted, verified, straight up real reviews.

In your experience, what is the best way to handle a bad review? Because the scary thing about putting reviews on your website is that not everyone is going to give them a good review, and are those bad reviews worse than not having any at all?

We have a number of options in our system. The most obvious one is if you click on “Contact Customer” it will suspend the review so that it won’t show up for 30 days. This gives you time to make the customer happy. Most business owners know that if you get a ticked off customer, you can make them happy, there’s something you can do to bring that customers around. Then they get a chance to re-rate and update their review. There’s other options as well to manage a low review.

 

If you’re a good company and you get an occasional low review, embrace it. Embrace your low reviews. It makes it real. If I go on a website and they’ve got five hundred 4.2 / 4.5 reviews and they’ve got a 1 star and 2 star, they’re doing a good job. They might have two customers they screwed up on, but it makes it real for me. Most people, especially millennials, go out and actually seek the low reviews. They’ll change the order of sort to read the low reviews and see how the business handled the low reviews before doing business with them.

That’s 100% true for us as well at times. We look at the overall reviews, and seek the products and businesses that have an average 4+ stars, then we want to see what the 1’s were. We do this with restaurants as well. We don’t mind if a restaurant has some 1 star reviews if it’s because of a bad situation. Example, they posted the review on a Friday night and said the service was slow. Chances are the restaurant is really busy on Friday nights and perhaps were even understaffed. Being busy is actually a good thing.

We look at what was the cause of the bad review. Did they receive the product late? That’s a different scenario than the product being faulty. Or was the product faulty and there was a response from the seller saying that they’re sorry the customer received a faulty product and that they’re sending a new one right away.

One of our companies just got a long review, and when you read the whole thing it says “the salesperson was great, the products are great, we love dealing with you, but I have to wait three weeks for my machine, so I gave you a 2 star review.”

You want to keep that review no matter what. Because when someone looks and finds that 2 star review, they’ll see it’s not a bad review.

Our response to that particular review was “we sold out, these things are very popular, we’re sorry for the delay in delivery, we’ll get it to you as soon as we can”.

Just a small sidebar as far as product reviews, once you’re collecting product reviews, it helps you weed out a bad product. If you start getting a bunch of 2 and 3 star reviews on a particular product, you’re going to stop carrying it.

We find that interesting in the apparel world because the one thing that is a mistake to say, especially in the apparel world, is “Well nobody has complained about it before.” Just because somebody doesn’t complain about it, doesn’t mean they’re satisfied. If there’s not an easy way for them to review it, then they’re not going to. We mentioned it before, if someone is over the top happy, and are a giving person, they will seek you out to leave a review no matter what. However that’s not very common. If someone is really upset, they will go out and seek to negative review you, but that’s not very common either.

If you get someone angry enough, they’ll leave a review on five different sites.

However the folks that didn’t really love the t-shirts you used, perhaps just didn’t like the brand – they didn’t love it, but they didn’t hate it – and they have no way to easily tell you, they won’t seek you out. So perhaps you’re just consistently selling that brand that you think is great and no one’s ever complained about. But they’re not coming back for repeat orders.

A friend of ours who was doing DGT a few years ago and that’s essentially what happened to him. He ended up having a customer email him saying “I really love your design, but when I washed it, it shrunk, and I wasn’t too happy.” No one had ever told him before. So he took the shirt – that he had just switched to using and was the one the customer complained about – made a few for himself, washed them and saw that they shrunk. He had a reasonably busy shop, and went back to look at his order over the past few months. Typically what was happening was he’d get a customer that would buy once or twice a month, but when he switched to this new shirt, he noticed he had a significant decrease in repeat customers. But nobody had complained. If he had a good option for his customers to leave him a review, he could have resolved the issue earlier. He was lucky that he had someone email him so that he could take action.

Embracing those bad reviews and seeing if you need to make a product change will make your business better.

You’re going to be getting constant feedback about your business, your products, your people. You’ll know exactly where you need help, exactly what you need to focus on to make your business better.

Could you just expand for us on the difference between merchant and product reviews?

Merchant reviews are reviewing the company, the business, the website the seller. Those reviews syndicate to Google, Bing, Yahoo, and show up in Google Shopping. That’s where the stars go. You would place widgets on your home page and checkout page that speak to your reputation as a seller.

 

Product reviews are reviewing your individual products. Those syndicate to Google Shopping product listing ads. When you search something in Google and you get those little 5-8 box of ads, that’s where product reviews show up. Google says you can expect a 15% increase in click thrus by having those stars. But if you’re the first one in your space, it’s way higher. Those stars also show up in Google Shopping. If you place widgets on your individual products pages, Google will also crawl those pages, and you’ll get stars in the organic search.

If you’re selling custom t-shirts online and you’re trying to boost your sales, trying to figure out what you can do differently to sell more shirts, reviews are proven through studies, not just by Shopper Approve, but by Google and plenty of other sources. If a customer gets on that page with your product and there are a handful of positive reviews, that’s going to convert more customers. There are people that will come to your site who are unsure whether or not they want to buy the apparel online. Even though there are a lot more people buying online, there’s still a discomfort level of not knowing – they can’t feel it or try it one. Reviews allow people to see others who’ve bought the product and who’ve liked it.

90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business. But 78% of every single purchase that takes place on the internet, is preceded by someone looking at either a merchant or product review, or both.

Another example specifically for our customers, let’s say we were in charge of ordering shirts for the entire business – a few 100 shirts. The owner of the business is going to have one, our bosses are going to have one, etc. and we need to find an apparel company to order from. We need to make sure that they’re going to be good. We can’t afford to mess it up – we’re using company money and the owner will have it. If the shirts don’t look good, the logo is sloppy, the colors aren’t right, it’s uncomfortable, etc. it’ll make us look bad. Naturally part of that decision making process, is to see if other people were satisfied. If you’re a custom t-shirt provider and you have reviews that say “I’m a buyer for X organization, I’m an owner of a dance studio, etc. and decide to use this company and the t-shirts looked amazing” what is going to happen with the next dance studio owner or buyer, is that they’re going to feel good and comfortable that they can make a decision to work with you. You’re going to get business out of that.

We talk about these little changes you can make all the time and can guarantee that once you make them you’re going to get a customer because of it, within a reasonable amount of time.

If you’re using our widgets on your site, I don’t want to promise numbers that are crazy, but I have heard 40-65% increase in conversions on your website. Let’s say it’s only 5%, that’s still a chunk of money, just for displaying reviews on your site.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. A lot of our customers are small businesses and work out of their homes. So their marketing budget is whatever is leftover in their pocket at the end of the month. What does this cost to set up?

Google requires that you have 150 written reviews before your stars will show up on your ads. For a small business that can be a little bit of a hill to climb. So we recommend emailing your past customers to get to that 150. Then you need to keep 150 over a twelve month rolling period. We’re pretty much the only review company that can service smaller businesses because our reviews complete at a much higher rate than our competitors. Anyone that wants to see this can contact me and I’ll do a demo to show them why. Up to 40% in some cases. Most of my competitors convert at 2-3%.

 

We have really affordable small business packages, but we’ll work with you, look at your situation, and customize a plan that works for your business. If you’re doing 50 orders or more per month I can help you. The honest truth is that if you’re doing less than 50, unless you have a huge database of past customers, you may not hit that 150 mark to get stars in Google. Although it’s still worthwhile to have it for the widgets on your site.

You mentioned about the in-person/in-store and over the phone reviews. If a customer is quite small, they can actively pursue reviews by directly asking people in-person and on the phone to get to that 150.

For some businesses that can work fantastic. You’re going to get 90-100% conversion on those, because who’s going to say ‘no’ to a couple questions from someone who just helped them out. As a small business, you have to make sure your salespeople or whoever is dealing with the customers is diligent about getting them.

Maybe you do less than 50 orders a month, but if you’re directly interacting with 45 out of 50 customers, if you can get reviews directly from them by asking in person, you can likely get 30-40 reviews each month.

Can you give us an idea of what an entry small business plan would cost?

I can throw this out there, but I don’t want everyone reading to think this is the rate they’re going to get, because it’s based on the business, and it’s customized based on how many reviews you collect. As of right now, it’s as little as $800/year for merchant reviews.

That can then vary based on how many reviews you get and whether you want product reviews in addition to merchant reviews, and whether you want Shopper Approved to email all your customers after they buy.

We have merchant reviews, product reviews, and local reviews. Each one is a separate service and each one is as little as around $100/month.

Think about the numbers we’ve been talking about in terms of conversion, number of sales, and repeat business. Really evaluate this for your business. Colman & Company and ColDesi use reviews because it’s good for out business in a lot of ways.

The return on investment is amazing. We don’t have contracts and we still have a 94% retention rate.

Let’s say you’re making $10/shirt. How many shirts do you have to sell to get good professional quality reviews and be that company in your market that shows up on Google? That has that power of positive reviews behind it. 10? 20? If your average order is $200 and you’re gaining 5% more orders, in you have 20 orders a month, your reviews will gain you one extra $200 order every month. And this will aggregate over time.

If you’re a mid or large sized company, you need to be doing this. It’s not that expensive and it’s something your customers are looking for. You need to get a head start on this. The ROI is high and you’re going to learn a lot about your business and products.

CAS Podcast Episode 55

To get in touch with Mike: mike@shopperapproved.com, (407) 636-7285. If you want to book a demo, go to Michaelherz.youcanbook.me

Have a good business!

 

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