A negative review is an invitation to win a customer. At least that’s how David Simmons, Digital Marketing Manager at Into Blinds, thinks about them now. But he didn’t always think this way. At one point, bad reviews were nothing more than a bad headache.
For ten years, Into Blinds has been a family-owned business that provides Australian-made blinds, curtains, security doors, and more to Australian customers. While they’ve grown steadily since the beginning, that growth started to accelerate three years ago.
As Into Blinds began investing more in Google Ads, radio spots, and organic search, they grew 40% each of the last three years. But this rapid growth made it harder to stay close to their customers and provide individualized experiences. This was leading to an uptick in negative online reviews.
As a result of these growing pains, David and his team implemented a live chat program. Although the program helped, it was costly and didn’t provide a direct connection with the customer, since the interactions were happening with a third-party vendor, not the Into Blinds team.
“The trouble with that live chat was that the customer would have to be logged in at that exact time. It was very costly, and our customers weren’t really getting that direct connection with us.”
Unfortunately, with Into Blinds’ legacy live chat solution, bad reviews were still just bad reviews. David and his team were still far removed from their customers. “We used a solution that employed people from around the world to man the live chat,” explained David. “Though the live chat operators were great, they didn’t understand the mindset of Australian consumers.”
Customers want to be understood, but they also want immediate solutions to their problems. It’s not easy to meet both of those expectations. David was working hard to find a better way to meet and exceed customer expectations by delivering personalized interactions. At this point, his hopes had all but gone out of the window.
When one door closes, another opens.
At work one day, David noticed a LinkedIn message from Adrian Condidorio at Podium. “I’ll be quite honest, I get a lot of these requests from a lot of people. I don’t normally entertain them, but Adrian conducted himself in a way that seemed more professional than other salespeople,” explained David. “Then, I was put in touch with Aiden Somerville, who’s an account executive at Podium. I was going to tell him at the beginning of the call, ‘You’ve got 10 minutes to sell me on this or I’m going.’ In less than five minutes, I knew I needed to get more of my team involved.”
It turns out, David is a pretty good himself at selling Podium. He pitched the idea to a few directors on his team. As he related, “I logged into live stats on Google Analytics in real time and said, ‘Here are 20 people in the virtual showroom on our website. We can’t grab them, we can’t talk to them, we can’t do anything with them. If we had Podium, we could answer their questions, guide them through and turn them into an appointment right now.’
The rest is history. After three months of using Podium Webchat, Into Blinds has generated nearly 400 leads for their sales team.
A negative review is a window of opportunity.
With the ability to message customers in real time, David and his team now frequently turn negative reviews into positive ones. “We find that when we turn a negative review into a good ending, we have more potential customers read those reviews than any other type of review,” David shared. “From our customer’s point of view, to know that there’s a care factor for the customer—that when there’s a mistake, we rectify it—that’s the best type of review you can get.”
With Podium, David and the Into Blinds team can see exactly who is sending out the review requests. They now have a leaderboard to show what is coming in from each individual, and the employee who gathers the most each month gets a “fairly substantial cash prize.” In short, they’ve created a reviews-centered culture.
“Since then, we haven’t ever looked back. Podium is the best thing I’ve ever seen for customer relations—that includes both ease of managing reviews and interacting with customers,” David concluded. “It’s just, it’s amazing. That’s all I can say about it, it’s totally amazing.” Close curtain.