Today’s shoppers are turning to their peers across social networks to learn more about potential purchases. As a result, retailers are seeking more efficient ways to garner customer feedback and encourage peer-to-peer interaction in a centralized location. For example, luxury cosmetic retailer L’Oreal USA tapped into the Social Q&A solution from TurnTo Networks, a provider of social commerce solutions, to boost consumer-to-consumer conversations on its e-Commerce sites.
Since implementing the TurnTo solution on two brand sites — Kiehls.com and YSLBeautyUS.com — L’Oreal USA successfully generated two- to four-times more user-generated content than standard ratings and reviews, according to Adrian Burke, Director of Interactive Marketing Services for L’Oreal USA.
“Content is the key to successful marketing today,” Burke told Retail TouchPoints. “Many of our marketing discussions are focused on getting our customers to communicate with each other and having that dialogue for support,” he said, “whether it’s via Facebook or the web.”
This peer-to-peer interaction has led to an increase in sales and customer satisfaction, and a decrease in customer support costs, Burke reported. Additionally, since this feedback is coming from peers, “it’s also more likely that consumers are going to trust it,” he added.
The TurnTo platform’s integrated Social Q&A solution allows consumers to ask their peers questions about specific products before they complete a purchase on e-Commerce sites. The platform then shares questions with loyal customers via email and encourages them to answer. With this peer insight, consumers finalize their purchase decisions faster and more confidently then move to the next phase of the browsing and buying journey.
Once shoppers complete a transaction, they’re asked to comment on why they purchased a specific item. This information is integrated into the social Q&A section of the product page.
Maximizing the continued growth of “Me-Commerce,” L’Oreal USA utilizes the TurnTo Social Q&A platform in three key ways:
1. Accelerating the customer lifecycle: Some customers in the final stage of the purchase decision funnel may have a few final questions before moving to checkout, Burke explained. Social Q&A allows prospects to receive answers quickly and encourage them to complete a transaction.
2. Tracking and analyzing customer sentiment to optimize customer service: By tapping into customer feedback, L’Oreal USA shares vital information as well as tips and tricks with retail sales teams in stores and customer service phone representatives, according Burke.
“It’s really interesting to see what customers are looking for, such as new shades of eye shadow or foundation, and tracking whether shoppers are happy with our offerings,” Burke said. “Sometimes customers even come back with ideas of blending different shades to create a new tone. We then share that valuable information with our customer service representatives and retail beauty advisors to optimize customer satisfaction. .”
3. Applying comments to future products and releases: The Social Q&A solution allows L’Oreal USA team members to “really learn from the wealth of information coming from our consumer base,” Burke said. “Customers find all sorts of interesting ways to use products and innovate in ways we never considered ourselves. This makes the tool extremely helpful for future product development, and identifying innovative ways to represent our products.”
Five years ago, luxury brands were hesitant to dive into social media, for fear of losing their prestige, Burke explained. However, the market has changed dramatically, due to growing consumer activity on social networking sites, as well as shoppers’ decreased interest in brand-focused, “shout marketing” strategies.
“Today we’re engaging people on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter consistently across all of L’Oreal USA’s luxury brands,” Burke said. “Initially, there were even discussions about opening ratings and reviews to customers: Did we want people to comment on a product and possibly reduce the prestige of our brand? What was the risk of negatively impacting our brand? But now we’re finding that engagement hasn’t harmed the brand’s prestige factor at all but has improved customer satisfaction and the overall brand experience.”