Land of Nod, a subsidiary of Crate and Barrel, offers unique, whimsical children’s furniture, toys, and accessories. These are high-consideration purchases, and they knew customer reviews could help shoppers make more confident decisions. After going live in March 2008, we sat down with Michelle Kohanzo, Marketing Manager, to see how Ratings & Reviews impacts their business.
Q: After about 75 days since going live, how things are going?
A: Ratings and Reviews have far exceeded our expectations. Overall, our customers are ecstatic about our products and are letting us know – we have generated over 10,000 reviews with an average rating of 4.7 stars since launch.
Q: Have you seen any cultural change within Land of Nod since launching Ratings & Reviews?
A: We were apprehensive about opening ourselves up to customer feedback and our ability to quickly respond to issues that might arise through the review process. Once we went live with reviews, our organization very quickly embraced the feedback we were receiving, both positive and negative. From my perspective, launching Ratings and Reviews has helped us to more clearly focus on our customers and what they value.
Q: Can you provide your perspective on the value of negative and rejected reviews?
A: The value in these types of reviews is two-fold for us. First, it allows us the opportunity to take a negative customer experience and make it positive. Second, we are using Negative and Rejected reviews (actually all reviews) to improve our products.
Negative reviews were the one thing that caused us to hesitate in launching Ratings and Reviews. We have very quickly come to understand that negative reviews enable us to become a better company, to solve customers’ problems, and to improve our products and services. We have also had an overwhelmingly positive customer response, so the negative reviews are a small subset of the overall positive experience and nowhere near as frightening as we had imagined.
Q: Have you altered any internal processes as a result of this paradigm shift?
A: Absolutely; so far we have seen changes in our marketing, merchandising, and customer service areas. A few exciting changes we’ve made so far include:
- We developed a process to reach out to reviewers with a negative experience. This process has been overwhelmingly positive for us; customers are absolutely astounded that we are monitoring the reviews and reaching out to them. This is giving us the ability to turn poor experiences into great ones.
- We are utilizing review data to improve low-rated products. Already in only a couple of months we have made improvements to several products due to reviewer feedback. Our merchants are taking reviews to our suppliers and together they are using the information to resolve the issues we are seeing.
- We are utilizing rating to drive website and marketing product placement. We are utilizing ratings in determining sort order and featured placement on our website, as well as in our marketing materials. We have also started to incorporate ratings in email and will begin using them in our affiliate promotions shortly. From a marketing perspective the possibilities appear endless.
- We have an overall heightened awareness of customer feedback. In general, there a lot of people in our organization looking at customer reviews every day – we are doing our best to read every review that comes through – positive or negative.
Q: What kind of analysis do you conduct to make sure you have all the bases covered when it comes to rejected or negative content?
We are looking at every negative and rejected review (coded for CS, SI, LI, PD). We created a sort of “ratings and reviews committee” at launch and that group is charged with making sure this is happening and also in deciding to escalate issues. The committee includes our merchandising director, our customer service manager and me (marketing).
Q: How have other team members at the Land of Nod responded to having Ratings & Reviews on their site?
A: The experience has been universally positive. As I mentioned, there was apprehension prior to launch, but that changed very quickly for us. As a company, our goal is to make our customers happy and ratings and reviews have just made it that much easier for us to do that.
Q: What advice would you give to our other clients in terms of responding appropriately, proactively and methodologically to negative or rejected reviews?
- Respect the anonymity of the review process. We try to be sensitive to the fact that a customer is not attempting to contact us directly when writing a review and therefore may not want to hear from us. Overall our customers have been thrilled that we are reaching out to them, but there have been a few individuals that have not wanted to open a dialogue.
- Tailor resolutions to the individual customer circumstance. Once a customer agrees to speak with us regarding their review we then work one-on-one with them to resolve their issue. I believe this is critical.
- Look at every low rated review (1 and 2 stars, and 3 stars would not recommend) as well as every rejected review, both from a Customer Service, as well as a Merchandising perspective. We are treating reviews like we would a customer calling us on the phone – we don’t have the option of not reaching out when necessary; it’s the kind of service we as a company want to provide.