Social proof can be a powerful tool for businesses when used in the right ways.
How do we know that? Well, let's look at some examples.
Have you ever made a purchase after reading positive reviews about a product? Or maybe you saw a testimonial from someone you know that made you willing to trust a new brand and make a first-time purchase. This is social proof at work—and brands have been using it as a tool for everything from direct selling to trust-building for decades.
Social proof is a psychological tactic that helps create social norms and boosts persuasiveness by showing how others are responding to something. At the same time, it cues the brain to reduce the anxiety associated with uncertainty and risk. It's also why we're drawn to things like restaurants with a long wait line and New York Times best-selling books: We like to follow the wisdom of the crowd.
Shogun, a page creation and optimization tool for stores hosted on Shopify and BigCommerce, is a company that leaned into building up elements of social proof for its offerings over the past three years. Their goal: Collect 1000+ positive reviews in the Shopify app store. (Spoiler alert: They did it—and they're the only app in the history of the Shopify App Store to achieve 1000 reviews with zero reviews lower than 4 stars.)
In this post, we'll examine the nuts and bolts of how they went about accomplishing this feat, the results it produced for the company in hindsight, and how other brands can lead similar efforts that improve customer service and drive sales.
How (and Why) Shogun Used Social Proof Collection
When the team at Shogun put their heads together on how to stand out from the competition and improve customer support, there was one place that made sense as a starting point: The review section of the Shopify App Store. Often times, this is where customers looked for options around solutions, and reviews there were a major social proof indicator.
The Shogun team started by formulating a simple strategy:
1. Be selective about review collection.
They decided to only ask for reviews from customers who have been using the tool for more than a few months, because often times new users hadn't yet had time to realize the full potential/value of the tool.
2. Anticipate unhappy customers.
By using automated email surveys with open-ended questions around how they could improve or why a customer would rank them lower than 5 stars, Shogun was able to anticipate unhappy customers and work to resolve those issues before someone left a bad review.
3. Push negative reviews right to customer support.
Thanks to a widget within their app, Shogun was able to push any review that was a 4 or 5 star right to the App Store, and anything lower to customer support so the issue could be resolved, working as a flagging system of sorts.
When their customer service department got a notice of a negative review, they immediately called that user, listened, and worked to resolve their issues. In fact, whenever possible, they tried to get customer support to connect with that person within just a few minutes of a them leaving negative review.
“Customers were surprised when they got a phone call from us that quickly. We normally do support through email and live chat, but I think sometimes customers forget that we're just human beings too, and getting on a call with them really helped to reinforce that,” said Shogun's CEO Finbarr Taylor.
But their outreach efforts didn't stop there. If no one answered the phone call, the support team at Shogun had a plan for next steps, too:
If they don't pick up, leave a message
Send a follow up email mentioning that you called them and will follow up again
Apologize, let them know their feedback is valued
Do whatever it takes to fix their problem
If you can't resolve the issue when you do connect, always offer a refund
Be persistent until a resolution is reached
Making this outreach a top priority for customer service representatives meant they went above and beyond for customers and truly showed they cared about resolving any issues.
How Gathering Positive Reviews Paid Off & What Other Brands Can Learn
By working toward growing their positive reviews with this approach, Shogun was able to meet its goal and crack the 1,000 positive review mark in 2018.
For Shogun, the impact of these positive reviews and sterling reputation has meant more customers and reduced churn, too. Customers frequently reference their positive app store reviews as a reason they installed the tool in the first place.
But that's not the only positive impact that's come from these efforts. The Shogun team was also able to learn valuable insights about their customers--especially their angry ones.
“Dissatisfied customers were often not even mad at us. They might be having a bad day or there's something else frustrating them, and we just get the brunt of it. We've learned that often times, customers just want to feel heard--and we're happy to listen and help however we can,” said Finbarr.
So what can other brands take from this?
Positive reviews are a powerful form of social proof.
By focusing on building a reputation of positive reviews in a space where customers look to those numbers to validate a purchase decision, you can win more new customers and stand out from the competition.
Negative reviews should flag customer support.
When a customer leaves a negative review, it means something is wrong. Find a way to flag negative customer reviews and send them straight to your support team so they can follow up with unhappy customers and resolve their issues.
Give customers a voice.
By putting measures in place that help you anticipate customers who are less-than-satisfied, you can find out what customers are struggling with, reduce customer churn, and exemplify stellar customer service.
Use Social Proof to Improve Customer Service
Collecting elements of social proof like reviews and ratings isn't just a selling tool--it's a way for you to deliver incredible, loyalty-winning customer service, too. By looking at these elements of customer feedback in a new light, you can impress your customers and turn them into brand evangelists who sing your praises even outside the context of a testimonial.
To learn about using customer reviews for company's benefit, read about the importance of Google customer reviews next.
Originally published Feb 22, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated April 15 2020