Well known for its shopping channel, QVC also boasts a robust Web presence. Its UK website, for example, gets 3.5 million monthly sessions, according to Gina Deeble, head of interactive content, who discussed the company's online feedback strategy during the Gartner CRM Summit UK. The company looks for ways to continually improve its customer interaction online, to deepen engagement and drive sales.
One important addition to its UK website, Deeble said, was ratings and reviews. "The company has a history of using on-air testimonials, so it was a natural extension," she said, adding that according to its Net Promoter Score surveys, "75 percent of QVC's customers would recommend, so enabling ratings and reviews is important to us." In fact, people who read reviews have a higher conversion rate.
QVC uses email to solicit reviews on its site after a purchase. The website has had 180,966 reviews since October 2007 on 24,500 products; 75 percent of those are 4 or 5 stars.
Ratings and reviews have been aligned with QVC's customer services team from the outset. Every review is vetted before it's posted; the process takes 40 hours. Rejected reviews-those that are purely service related-are not posted, but are handled directly by QVC's customer services team with a personal follow-up call.
Deeble's team used to own ratings and reviews when the company first launched it. Now the merchandising team owns it so they can more quickly take action on feedback. The team reports on the ratings and reviews to the buying team, among others; the reports include details like number of reviews, average rating, comments, number of stars, and the like. The buying team also gets a complete list of the negative feedback weekly. The goal is to use the feedback strategically.
One way the company does this is to broadcast some of the online reviews during the show. Also, every day one item is sold as Today's Special Value. It usually accounts for 20 percent of that day's sales. When deciding which product to choose, the merchandising team considers the ratings and reviews, as well as prior sales. Additionally, the site uses "top-rated" (based on reviews) in the left navigation bar and on brand pages to encourage visitors to shop more.
Another approach QVC takes to using ratings and reviews is using the information to support special promotions. Last year the retailer launched the QVC Beauty Awards. In short, it created categories of top products, based on ratings and reviews, and then asked customers to vote for their favorites. They company got 14,000 votes over four weeks in July-and a jump in sales. July sales were 200 percent above what was forecast, and were similar to levels seen for Christmas 2008, Deeble said. Not surprisingly, QVC plans to run the awards again.
Occasionally, QVC will post responses to reviews-especially if there are plans to take some sort of action. It's important to QVC that its customers know their feedback is valued and acted on. In one case a perfume brand adjusted its formula. Customers complained; QVC posted a note saying it would contact the perfume company about the issue. In response the perfume company introduced a "new" perfume with the old formula, which delighted QVC's customers.
Using NPS and rating and reviews has helped to uncover issues QVC would never have otherwise known about. For example, prior to ratings and reviews there was an ice cream maker that initially sold well and had no returns and no complaints to the contact center. But, in fact, the product was so bad "it was hurting QVC's brand reputation," Deeble said. When the item was back in stock, reviews were available, and the item received all bad reviews-many from "veteran" customers. QVC quickly discontinued selling the product, and canceled future orders.
In the case of one brand of bedding QVC sells, there was a problem with one batch of the bedding. QVC discovered this issue because what was normally a 5-star product was getting low ratings. So QVC contacted the manufacturer, posted a response on its website to customers about the batch problem, and offered refund or replacement to customers who received the problem items. The product has returned to a 5-star rating.
Ask & Answer
QVC recently launched Ask & Answer on product detail pages, as the next enhancement to its ratings and reviews tool, as well as a way to reduce calls to the contact center by helping customers assist each other. Customers can ask questions about the product; others customers can answer. "It's peer to peer, right on the site," Deeble said. "New customers are engaged and it's reassuring content for them." Questions not answered in two weeks are answered by customer services team.
Ask & Answer got 129 questions posted in first two days. Like ratings and reviews, Ask & Answer is moderated; as a result, it currently takes 40 hours to post the questions. However, the company plans to review whether to shorten this, as well as the customer services response time, because taking to long to respond could mean a lost sale-especially if the question is regarding an item that's on special for a limited time.
QVC also uses Facebook to interact with customers. According to Deeble, 32 percent of QVC customers use Facebook and 32 percent use YouTube;only 2 percent use Twitter. QVC uses its Facebook fan page to promote its product and services, as well as to track customer sentiment. It posts exclusive content like video clips and specials. It has 9,000 fans, which it acquired using only one email campaign to drive sign-ups.
Unlike the moderated ratings and reviews, QVC can't control comments on Facebook, of course. "Some are quite eye opening," Deeble said. For example, the company asked for feedback about QVC's new logo. The logo discussion went on to become a rant about postage and packaging.
The customer services team tracks Facebook comments, as well as the number of fans, number of comments, and customers' like and dislikes. The team also tracks where else QVC customers are talking about the retailer, for example, crafting blogs. (Crafting is popular among many QVC customers.) Additionally, the team follows customers' comments on other blogs and the like to learn more about customers' interests. However, for now, QVC is not on Twitter. After a short time using the site, the company found that few engaged customers interacted there. Although QVC had 1,600 followers, 30 percent were spam and many others were "one and done," Deeble said. So QVC closed its Twitter handle and moved customers there to Facebook.
QVC UK may go back to Twitter down the road, if enough engaged customers want to interact there, but in the meantime, the company will continue to examine other news ways to listen to the voice of its customers online.