As a Fractional CMO, I help companies grow their business through digital marketing. VisaHQ, an online travel visa application solution, is one of my SaaS clients in the business travel industry. The company is bootstrapped and has an interesting horizontal, decentralized style of management. Employees are encouraged to act as entrepreneurs, doing what’s good for the business. As I joined the company over a year ago, I realized that users were reaching out to VisaHQ through social media and reviews. I counted 41 review sites where users had commented on the company’s product and services. Everybody and no one, in particular, was tasked with monitoring and managing these reviews. The job seemed overwhelming: 41 listings, with almost as many credentials to log in in and replied to comments.
VisaHQ’s top management was well aware that the way buyers procure software has changed. The role of sales is no longer to cold-call and to push products, and buyers are less interested in the opinion of Gartner and their magic quadrant than of peers insights.
As buyers do their research online, user reviews have a considerable impact on the buying decision. According to a 2017 study by Heinz Marketing, 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review.
As I started working on user reviews at VisaHQ, I quickly realized that exposing the team to reviews had an amazingly positive impact. VisaHQ’s clients are often calling on the company’s agents to help with complex visa situations on very short deadlines. Their job can be emotional and tense, and what’s at stake are the personal lives and the businesses of our clients.
Like 911 dispatchers, the visa experts jump from a critical case to another without hearing back from the client once a visa has been issued. Reviews, at times, are like postcards: customers use them as much to share their experiences with other users as to send their appreciation to the staff that helped them.
Recently a New York client, Joan Devlin left the following review on Google: “I was initially nervous about mailing my passport to strangers,’ she said. ‘The representative, Griselle Morales, assured me that she would make sure that I knew where my passport was at each stage of the visa process. […] She stayed late to make sure she had a complete application to bring to the consul. I received my passport on the date stated. I know I could have taken my chances at the border crossing, but frankly, why would I put myself through the worry when Griselle would do everything for me, except packing! Thank you VisaHQ!”
How to Instil a Client First Company Culture Across Continents?
Early last year VisaHQ had no way to respond quickly to the growing number of reviews. Staffs were trying their best to serve their clients while some disconnect between operations and customer satisfaction was noticeable.
Although the majority of the agents were passionate about their work, it was apparent that some employees had a hard time understanding the impact of their job on the clients. Remember that the company is global with 24 offices across the globe. Larger offices count 15 employees while some of the smaller number only one or two staff. Most employees have never met each other.
Technology facilitated the cultural change within VisaHQ. We rolled out a collaboration software. Global teams were invited to join in global channels. People started sharing tips and asking colleagues for help. All of a sudden, isolated employees felt like they were part of a team, a community of colleagues. The green dots next to colleagues name on our chat platform reminded employees that they had colleagues available and ready to jump in to help.
Then came the job of streamlining reviews from the listings of Facebook, Google Local, G2 Crowd, Trustpilot, Yellow Page, Yell, Yelp and others into a single solution. After sourcing a tool that matched our criteria we configured it and launched the rollout. VisaHQ was now equipped with a single portal to monitor and respond to every review in real-time.
Next came the automation of review generation. After carefully crafting segments and triggering-rules, I composed a campaign asking clients to rate their experience. By automating reviews solicitation, I managed to increase by 415% the number of reviews published within a month.
As new reviews began to pour in daily, I started to share them on our collaboration software global channels, congratulating agents for their customer engagements. Weeks after weeks agents noticed how some of their colleagues were praised for going the extra mile. All a sudden what an employee did for a customer in India or Sydney was visible globally. Everyone in the company, from the CEO to the operation team started to comment on the kudos and praise agents for their professionalism and their customer mindset.
Agents started to actively seek good reviews and enjoyed public praise. A change was happening, and a customer first culture was a reality globally.
As all eyes were on reviews, some operational and product issues were identified. To streamline operations and increase the quality of customer service VisaHQ named a Customer Satisfaction Officer whose first task has been to draft and enforce standard operating procedures globally. R&D enjoyed customer feedbacks and rolled out product enhancements.
Customers are fans of VisaHQ amazing customer service Kevin Castner, an ex-Financial Advisor now traveling the world with his wife told me in a recent interview, “If you were going to ask me how likely I would be to recommend VisaHQ on a combination of competence, ease of use, all of those metrics, I would say a 10.”
Content Marketing and User Testimonials
Reviews prove to be a fantastic tool to engage with the company’s fans. We industrialized the process and reach out to 5-stars reviewers on a regular base to solicit skype video interviews and produce very engaging contents that I share in drip campaigns and on social media.
These video testimonials are the best endorsement that VisaHQ can get. In a campaign used to reactivate abandoned carts users, these testimonial videos resulted in over 3% conversion rate, which is excellent. (See Samuel’s video testimonial).
Don Gillander, the CEO of the tire manufacturing company, Airboss Tyre, Inc., says “I went on an internet search, read about you [VisaHQ] and then looked at reviews. I thought ‘this is the company for me.’” Indeed, at VisaHQ, review management proved to be both a catalyst for engaging the team toward customer focus and in boosting sales organically. See Don’s video testimonial.
I believe that companies would benefit from integrating reviews management solution to their referral solution. Reviewers are brand ambassadors ready to endorse a product and likely to refer friends and family to the service they have loved they are natural candidates for referral programs. Integrating the two solutions seems a natural second step. Something worth exploring.
Building on what client Eugene Griego qualifies as “a shockingly easy” and excellent process and a strong product offering, VisaHQ is well positioned to consolidate its leadership globally. As more countries offer e-visas, the company has rolled out a comprehensive e-visa solution available globally. The global mobility company is growing its network of travel management companies and has partnership working with BCD, American Express and Expedia. On the corporate front, VisaHQ is providing its online travel visa application platform to household name brands such as Google, HBO, Linkedin, Uber, Under Armor…