Why Service Level Agreements Matter to Brands

Topic: Impact of Online Reviews Best Practices Brand Response ecommerce

The majority of U.S. states have eased their stay-at-home orders, but many people are still reluctant to venture into crowded brick-and-mortar stores. And that means more consumers are shopping online. According to data from Bazaarvoice, in April 2020, eCommerce orders were up 96% year-over-year.

With this rapid growth in eCommerce comes an increased dependence on user-generated content like ratings and reviews and Q&A. Shoppers rely on this content to make informed purchase decisions when they can’t touch, feel, and see a product prior to purchase. What’s more, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are also submitting more of this content. In April, Bazaarvoice found there was a 37% increase in reviews submitted, compared to the same period last year. And question submission was up 57% year-over-year.

In order to build a reputation as a customer-centric business, brands must stay on top of reviews and shopper-submitted questions. An important way to do that is to consolidate all reviews and questions -- regardless of where they were submitted -- into one platform. Then, brands can use a single platform to monitor reviews and questions, engage with them, and escalate them, if needed.

In our most recent blog, we explored the concept of review consolidation and the many ways it benefits brands. In that post, we briefly touched on how review consolidation helps brands deliver on service level agreements (SLAs). 

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at different types of SLAs, how they impact a brand’s reputation, and how review consolidation software ensures brands consistently meet (or exceed) them. 

Internal Brand SLAs: Ensuring Brands are Responsive and Compliant

Brands build their reputations by delivering great products and experiences to customers. Answering customers’ questions and addressing issues in a timely manner are opportunities to create positive, memorable experiences, which foster loyalty. 

Brands have internal SLAs in place to ensure they consistently answer inquiries and resolve customer service issues quickly -- including those submitted via Q&A or product reviews. For example, a brand may have an internal SLA of responding to all issues and inquiries within 24 hours. The brand can then regularly track performance and identify ways to improve. For example, a brand can measure response time by customer service agent and provide additional coaching to agents with slower response times.

Ratings and Reviews Insights Reports and Dashboards

Internal SLAs also help brands remain compliant. For example, the FDA has regulations in place for how consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) companies must handle customer complaints, including those submitted in reviews. Brands that aren’t compliant risk fines and a damaged reputation, especially if the complaint mentioned an adverse effect of a product.

Review consolidation technology ensures brands are well-positioned to meet their internal SLAs. All content is managed from one platform, and it’s easy to route issues to the appropriate team for a quick resolution. 

Of course, some issues are more pressing than others. For example, reports of adverse effects should get top priority. With review consolidation technology, brands can set keywords to ensure critical content is quickly escalated. For example, a brand could set keywords like “pain,” “sick” and “ill.” Anytime those words appear in a review, the review is automatically escalated. 

Retailer SLAs: Building Relationships with Key Partners

Most brands sell their products through a network of retail partners. For example, a consumer-packaged-goods brand might sell its sunscreen products at Walmart, Target, Costco, and Walgreens, in addition to its own eCommerce site. 

ecommerce website digital shelf Ratings and Reviews

Retailers want to partner with brands that consistently meet (or exceed) customer expectations. Brands do this not only by delivering great products but also by responding to inquiries in a timely manner and resolving issues when something doesn’t go right.

Today, a growing number of major retailers use vendor scorecards to assess the performance of the brands they partner with. While there are a number of metrics that are tracked on these scorecards, a key one is a brand’s ability to meet SLAs. In other words, retailers track how often brands do (or don’t) respond to customer inquiries and issues (including those submitted via Q&A and product reviews) within an agreed-upon amount of time. 

If a brand fails to meet SLAs, they’ll receive a low score. Brands that consistently get low scores risk penalties -- including fines or even being dropped by the retailer altogether. Of course, they also risk damaging their hard-earned reputations. 

On the other hand, if a brand consistently meets (or exceeds) SLAs, they’ll receive high scores. These brands benefit from strong partnerships with their retail partners, increased merchandising opportunities, and a great reputation as a company that cares about its customers.

Traditionally, in order to manage reviews and Q&A, a brand would have to log in to each retailer’s dashboard, then manually assign reviews and questions to the appropriate team to answer or address. This manual process makes it likely that content will slip through the cracks -- and a brand will get dinged for failing to meet its SLA.  

Today, though, many brands consolidate their reviews and Q&A into one dashboard by using a review consolidation platform like Reputation Studio. No reviews or questions are missed, and this content is automatically routed to the appropriate team to handle based on elements like star rating and keywords. What’s more, because this platform connects with Salesforce Service Cloud, all customer service issues can be managed from one location, whether they originate from chat, email, social media, phone, Q&A, or a review. That means brands are well-equipped to address customer questions and issues -- well within the SLAs set by their retail partners.

Amazon SLAs: Exceeding Customer Expectations 

Amazon has made a name for itself as a customer-centric business. In fact, “customer obsession” is one of the company’s leadership principles

Clearly, their efforts have paid off. Shoppers love Amazon. In fact, a Feedvisor study found a whopping 74% of consumers go to Amazon when they’re ready to buy a specific product. So it’s not surprising that Amazon has high expectations of the brands it partners with. 

Of course, Amazon expects brands to deliver safe products that are free of defects. But they also expect brands to respond to questions and reviews as soon as possible. In fact, if Amazon had things their way, brands would respond to questions while the shopper was still on the product page.

This can seem like a pretty tall order. But thanks to review consolidation software, brands are better equipped to respond to customer questions very quickly -- even in real-time. The brand gets alerted that a question has been asked, and they can easily provide an answer right away -- all from one dashboard. The brand is meeting Amazon’s high expectations, and the shopper is more likely to purchase the product because they’ve received an answer to their purchase-blocking question.

As an added layer of quality assurance, Amazon employs Andon Cords, a manufacturing principle pioneered by Toyota. Essentially, this means any Amazon customer service representative has the power to “pull the cord” (in other words, suspend sales of a product) if they suspect there’s an issue with the product. 

One-star reviews or those that include negative keywords can potentially trigger an Andon Cord, as they may indicate there’s a larger problem. For example, if a shopper indicates a sunscreen caused them to break out into hives, there’s a chance others are experiencing the same thing.

It’s important for brands to quickly address these issues, especially when they concern the health and safety of shoppers. And review consolidation software makes that possible. With review consolidation, brands can automatically create service cases in Salesforce Service Cloud, which are then routed to the appropriate team to be addressed. And cases can be escalated based on certain negative keywords set by the brand. What’s more, review consolidation software provides sentiment analysis so a brand can better understand how shoppers feel about a certain product.

With review consolidation software, brands are empowered to meet the expectations of Amazon -- and its shoppers.

Is Your Brand Well-Positioned to Meet Your SLAs? 

Consistently meeting internal, retailer, and Amazon SLAs is critical to building a reputation as a brand that cares about its customers. Review consolidation makes it easier. 

Find out how Reputation Studio can help you deliver on SLAs by consolidating all reviews and Q&A into one platform. Contact us to request a live demo today. 

Impact of Online Reviews Best Practices Brand Response ecommerce