January 7, 2021

Let’s Talk Local #01: Reputation Management with Sarah Bacchetti

Sarah Bacchetti from Trustpilot joined us to talk about:

  • The importance of trust between customers and brands
  • How reviews and ratings will play a role in 2020's unusual holiday shopping season
  • Why a good response to a bad review could be worth 10 good reviews.

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Conversation transcript

Text has been lightly edited for clarity.

This is Evan from PinMeTo, and today we're going to be talking about reputation management. Joining us, we have Sarah Bacchetti from Trustpilot.

Hi Evan, thank you for having me here today. I'm Sarah, I work for Trustpilot as a Senior Partner Manager for the Scandinavian markets: Denmark, Sweden and Norway. And I'm really excited to have this opportunity to talk about reputation with you today.

I saw that you recently analyzed 30 million of your reviews to do a report about what the 2020 holiday shopping season is going to look like. And obviously, this is going to be a very strange shopping season compared to past years. So I was hoping you could tell me a bit about how reputation management will play a role this holiday shopping season.

It's going to be a curious time. And as much as we want to try to measure and put numbers to what's going to happen, we'll have to wait and see what actually happens.

What we’re seeing so far is in fact, given the situation and given people will not be able to shop physically or will have constraints to do so, a lot of what people would do physically – like shop in store – they will now do online. So, from both Trustpilot and a number of other sources, you have statistics saying that this online shopping season will be probably the highest and the most profitable for online businesses that we've ever seen. So definitely it’s super important to be coming to this season ready to make the most out of online shopping.

“…this online shopping season will be probably the highest and the most profitable for online businesses that we've ever seen."

Reputation and reviews are another piece of the puzzle. Before going into that, I want to stress that reputation is not the only thing businesses should be taking care of. With the volumes that we're expecting, businesses should take care of making their site ready to handle that volume and to make sure that the checkout process, for example, works seamlessly, that there are products available, and that the information on site is accurate, because there is no worse experience than buying something for a member of your family and then the gift doesn't come when it was promised.

Customer reviews can help both in the preparation phase and later into the holiday season itself. What we have tried to do with a lot of our customers is to start to understand what a customer wants to buy. So using tools like customer reviews and surveys, then analyzing that feedback, is extremely important to build your catalog around what the customer wants to buy for this 2020 season. It's not easy, of course, but it gives businesses a chance to be ready and to have those products available and in their catalog and their web shop.

And then of course, where customer reviews and social proof will be most beneficial is during the season itself. So we're expecting a lot more people browsing and buying online. This means that probably there will be new demographics online, which we have not seen before, usually older people. For a lot of people that have never purchased online before, they don’t know where to go, what to trust, where to buy. To facilitate that process, reviews will come into play.

What we see is that generally people browse around nine to ten websites before placing a purchase, and that 90 percent of these consumers would search for reviews before actually buying from an unfamiliar company. So having reviews in place and making sure that those are visible to customers is going to basically make it or break it for a lot of the non-established businesses or the more small-to-medium businesses.

It sounds like a lot of this comes back to trust, which, of course, is your company name. And it's something that we think about a lot at PinMeTo. For us, a lot of it comes down to having accurate information about physical locations, so customers know, "OK, this store is open at this time, so if I make the trip out there to go there they'll be open and ready for me." I’m wondering if you could tell a little bit more about how reputation management plays a role in trust between customers and brands.

Trust is one of the topics that probably we touch upon the most in Trustpilot. What we have seen and what we have measured along the years – well, actually, not just us, I would also refer to the Edelman reports – is that trust in the last few years has reached an all time low. The Edelman report of 2018 tells us that basically 42 percent of consumers globally do not really know which business to trust, which is incredible. That basically means that as a business you put out a message, whatever message that is, and almost half of the people that will read the message will basically doubt that it's real or that it's truthful. So in that sense we do see how trust and managing reputation can actually translate, for a company, into revenue or a bad season sale.

That's why people then look for reviews and consumer feedback before going online and making a purchase. We've seen how large of a chunk of the global population actually does that, and it’s important, of course, for businesses to conform to that norm and make sure that they have tools available for consumers to go online and check what the reputation of that business is.

The business of reviews and the reputation management has had a few hits. We have seen many articles being published about fake reviews on Amazon or TripAdvisor, for example. So consumer reviews have many critiques coming their way, and consumers have started inquiring whether reviews are trustworthy and reliable, or are just manufactured by the company. So in an environment where consumers are becoming more and more savvy about where to find information about how reviews are collected and how they're published and treated, whether they're censored or moderated, it becomes extremely important that companies put out a very trustworthy and open and transparent image of themselves. Otherwise consumers would react negatively to reviews.

Reviews are powerful, but must be managed with care, and with the idea that asking for feedback is not always a fairy tale. But managing that feedback is critical for a business to survive, and for businesses to conquer the trust of customers.

A little parenthesis here on a big topic nowadays, about Amazon landing in the Scandinavian market. Amazon themselves have made a strategy out of collecting reviews and showcasing reviews wherever they can. So it's not science fiction: if Amazon has done it, and has been successful with it, then other businesses should take advantage of the same tools, making sure that to use the tools to become recognisable and well-perceived by the population. That's what we strive to do at Trustpilot: we strive to be the most trusted platform out there. And with our trust promise this summer, we think we've reached a huge milestone with it.

I thought that Trustpilot’s CEO, Peter Muhlmann, had an interesting take on getting negative reviews. He said that a good response to a bad review is worth ten good reviews. Can you shine some light on that? How does responding to these negative reviews help turn them into a good thing for a brand?

I would start by saying that companies are made out of humans. So there is no way that the company is perfect and can deliver pitch perfect propositions all the time. The consumers, on the other hand, expect that companies may make mistakes. And given that they want to have that trustworthy and transparent image of the company, they then expect the companies to explain these mistakes. In fact, when we see that when consumers go into a product profile, they would usually read probably the first 10 very good reviews, and then the very bad ones. And that’s not because they're super interested in understanding what the company's bad at, but rather they want to see how the company is reacting to the negative feedback and whether the company replying is being kind, polite, and offering solutions.

“…given that customers want to have that trustworthy and transparent image of the company, they then expect the companies to explain these mistakes.”
So when we educate our customers about how to manage reviews, sometimes it’s very common sense. Companies should try to be very fast in replying to negative comments, should be helpful, should be trying to not have automated messages but actually trying to personalize the response to the problem that the customer has had and offer a resolution. The solution can be a change of the product, refunds, a voucher, or whatever it is, trying to make the customer happy. It's very common sense to say, but companies should strive to be polite. As much as a business would think that the customer is not saying something true, the business has to remain polite and kind in its response.

By applying those type of practices, consumers will feel that the company is standing by the customer. Even when mistakes happen, the company should be able to say, "I'm sorry, we know we've made a mistake, we'll try to make you happy again." For a potential new customer, this is critical to see. But this is also critical for the customer that had a bad experience. When customers take the time to leave feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, they're taking away from their day. And if the company is good enough to stand up and provide some sort of resolution, that's probably the best way to gain a super loyal customer.

There are multiple benefits to negative reviews, and there are many more to talk about, but these would be the main topics I would focus on when talking about negative reviews.

Thank you for that silver lining, for those brands that may have gotten some negative reviews. But as for this interview, I give it a totally positive review. Thank you for joining me, and I really appreciate you sharing your expertise on reputation management.

Thank you Evan for having me today. And yeah, this was very fun. Thank you for the interview.

Looking for an easier way to manage your online reputation for all of your multi-location brand’s locations? Request a free report to see how PinMeTo can help you manage reviews, messages and comments for all your locations.