Soylent: Tapping Into Reviews
Soylent + Product Review Management
Soylent, the complete meal in a bottle, was developed in 2013 and was first sold direct to consumer through a subscription model. It has since expanded to Amazon, Walmart, and other retail stores. It's become a rising star in the grocery category, as it looks to help solve the problem of "food voids," or areas where people make poor nutritional choices out of lack of options and time.
As the company has grown, it realized that it needed to update its process for customer engagement through online reviews. Soylent’s Director of Customer Care, James Lemire, described their former process for responding to reviews as a ‘comb over.’ “Essentially, we would go to the go to the product page, scan through all the reviews, and look for ones we needed to respond to. Our process wasn’t fully organized.” Oftentimes they would find reviews that needed a response but it felt awkward to jump into a conversation two and half weeks after a review was left. They needed a solution that would allow them to engage the consumer in real time.
Responding to Problems in Real Time
Lemire, whose role is to steer the strategic vision for the consumer support team, utilizes Reviewbox as a customer service tool, problem solving instrument, and as a way to increase customer lifespan. “We have hooked our Reviewbox notifications up to our Slack channel, so now everybody in the company has access to the Amazon reviews via Slack. It’s been a great way to keep everyone in the company in the loop, in terms of what people say on Amazon. I've had a lot of people reach out to me directly if they see certain reviews or questions come up. It unshrouds the Amazon review process for the rest of my colleagues that aren’t working directly with customers.”
In addition to providing the larger organization with product feedback, the notifications have been helpful in allowing Lemire’s team to increase their response time to negative reviews. “The second somebody leaves a review we can jump on it right away and respond if it’s a negative or a low star review. It helps us respond right as they're happening rather than having to set reminders to periodically review.”
Taking a Deeper Dive into Data
Lemire says that the Reviewbox notifications have helped keep people in the organization engaged, from product development to marketing. If they need more information, they reach out to him for a deeper dive. He is extracting valuable data from his Reviewbox exports and having his team analyze and categorize the exports to identify possible keywords, product issues, and more. “Whether it’s finding all of the words embedded in reviews that relate to taste, texture, or product design, we’ve been able to use that qualitative data to identify trends.”
This came in particularly helpful to identify an issue with product packaging. “There was an issue in particular that we were able to get a good jump on regarding the torque on our bottle caps. It was set too high and we could see the trend happening in real time via Reviewbox, so it helped us to identify it quickly and kind of get a jump on resolving it.” By using Reviewbox, they gained a one to two-week lead time in identifying the problem. Before Reviewbox, they manually compiled information from various channels and searched for digestible product information from their aggregated data.
Lemire’s team tracks data on a granular level and has manually performed natural language processing on their Reviewbox data to parse out possible keywords for their marketing and ad teams. “We had our team go in and highlight how many times words like ‘delicious’ or ‘sweet’ were used and sent that to marketing to help with copy and content.” Lemire’s team does this manually, which he admits can be an arduous process. Reviewbox is currently working on a natural language processing tool to help automate this task.
As a disrupter in the food industry, Soylent is a forward-thinking company. Their social media marketing campaigns have a clear brand affinity that won over the direct to consumer market. As they’ve expanded to e-commerce channels such as Amazon, and now are targeting retailers such as Walmart, their brand presence is growing exponentially. Using Reviewbox to aggregate reviews and consumer data will help them continue their upward trajectory in the grocery category as they engage customers and tap into consumer insight.