Boots uses Bazaarvoice best practices to turn unhappy customers into advocates
Sometimes, the best word of mouth comes from a customer who hasn’t had the best experience. That’s always been the case for the popular health and beauty retailer Boots, which sees the occasional negative review as an opportunity to turn an unhappy customer into an advocate.
“Responding to negative reviews gives us the chance to shift the way the customer feels toward us based on the way we handle their concerns,” says Bonnie Berrio, Customer Service Specialist at Boots. “They might still share their negative experience about a product or service, but they also immediately follow with how they will always buy from us because of how well we handled the issue.”
In our experience at Bazaarvoice, negative reviews are rare; in fact, only 18% of reviews across all our clients are three stars or fewer, and at Boots it’s even lower at 10%. But as Boots has learned, it’s how a company responds to negative reviews that counts. In fact, our research shows that brands can double customers’ purchase intent by being responsive.
Best Practices for Responding to Reviews
“We respond to reviews to get involved in a conversation with our customers,” says Berrio. In responding, Boots follows several best practices that Bazaarvoice recommends. Speaking authentically is one of the most important; copying and pasting the same boilerplate response on multiple reviews can be worse than not responding at all. According to Berrio, Boots’ practice is to “be professional, positive, and respectful; keep it simple and appropriate; and be genuine.”
A speedy response is also important. Most Bazaarvoice clients adhere to a two-day policy; some go even further and make sure to respond the same day. Berrio says, “We always answer as quickly as we can, even if it is just to let the customer know ‘we received your inquiry, we’re looking for the answer, and we’ll be back in touch.’ Then we direct questions to key people we rely on to answer most questions, and reach out to each other for help as needed so that we can follow through.”
Achieving Positive Outcomes from Negative Reviews
When one customer complained to Boots that a beauty product had caused an allergic reaction, Boots responded by investigating and identifying other products that would be more suited to her skin type and then sending her an alternative to try instead. “She was very happy in the end and appreciated that we cared enough to address her problem head-on,” says Berrio.
According to Bazaarvoice, responding with an apology and the offer of a refund or exchange can result in a 92% increase in intent to purchase and an 88% increase in product sentiment. And in cases where it turns out a customer has been misusing a product, responding with an explanation of how to use it differently or other guidance can lead to 186% percent increase in intent to purchase and 157% increase in product sentiment.
Exceeding expectations is also important. After a customer responded to an email requesting a review by simply pointing out that she’d never received the product, Boots reached out to her immediately, worked with her to determine why she had not yet received her order, and then expedited delivery – keeping in touch with her throughout the process. “They contacted me in less than 48 hours and have gone above and beyond to fix my issue,” the customer wrote afterward. “In a world that has become numbers and letters on a screen, at least one business really does care.”
Overall, both positive and negative reviews are having an impact on online sales. Since launching the Bazaarvoice tracking tool, Boots is seeing that two-thirds of its online visitors are interacting with reviews and is also seeing a lift in conversion rates from those who read reviews.