It was almost 11:00 p.m. on a Sunday night in 2017. Matt and Crista Vance were driving home through Sardine Canyon after a weekend trip visiting family. With their two kids asleep in the back of the car, a deep discussion about career planning and roadblocks at work was underway.
“Are you listening? What do you think?” Crista said. “Wait, um…. Tell me again,” Matt replied.
This is where Matt likes to make excuses for missing the glorious epiphany moment. It was early fall and pitch black beyond the headlights. Even though the conversation was highly engaging, Matt, who was driving, claims he was focused on looking for deer that typically reside in the area.
“Sorry, I was watching for deer, dear.” Now he was just trying to recover. She patiently responded, “I think you should write a book. You know. A book about what you do. That would help.”
“I don’t know,” Matt retorted. “Who would want to buy a book from me?”
“Just think about it,” Crista continued, “you just told me that researching helps you learn. You also told me that you like teaching other people. It helps you remember stuff.”
Such a simple solution to a complex problem. Write a book, she said.
And she was right. Writing a book was the key.
Over the next five years, Matt worked at two global CPG companies, Malouf Companies and iFIT, collectively managing reviews across 3,000+ product listings, company profiles and employer profiles. He also consulted a wide variety of other companies in many other industries regarding their consumer and employee feedback and online reputation.
In the mornings and on the weekends, Matt was also conducting research, wrote and tested theories and spent 1,500+ hours writing. Through this process, patterns of consumer behaviors and how to influence them became clear over time. The end result was the creation of The Review Cycle, a four-phase consumer behavior model that illustrates the cyclical decision making process, informed by online reviews.
Following this newly created model, Matt helped many companies dramatically increase sales and customer satisfaction by optimizing how they managed publicly shared feedback in the form of online ratings and reviews.
In fact, many of the products Matt and his teams managed became long-term 🥇#1 category best sellers on sites like Amazon, Walmart.com, Overstock and Groupon.
But it wasn’t just about product reviews. In 2016, Matt opened employer profiles for his then employer, Malouf Companies, on Glassdoor and Indeed. He identified similarities in managing customer reviews and optimizing product listings with managing employee reviews and optimizing company culture.
He applied the same principles to this Glassdoor profile as he had done with product listings on dozens of eccomerce sites. Two short years later, Malouf ranked #8 Best Place to Work in the nation on Glassdoor’s 2018 list out of over 1 million employers. This award is 100% based on employee reviews shared on the site.
Matt ended up handing off his product review management duties and joined Malouf’s HR team as the Employee Experience Manager. In that role, he began focusing on engineering better experiences for a new “customer”- the employees. Before being recruited to global fitness leader iFIT in 2020, Malouf won six more national best place to work awards.
At iFIT, Matt first established the consumer feedback operations of the company, hiring and training a team that increased ratings by 1.27-stars across 40+ company and brand profiles in 18 months. With standard operating procedures in place, he was promoted as the VP of Purpose & Culture. In that role he again applied the principles of feedback management he had developed dramatically lifting iFIT’s employer ratings and won multiple national best place to work awards.
In July of 2022, Matt’s book The Review Cycle was published.
By this time, it was clear to both Matt and Crista that writing a book was never about just a book. It was about laying the foundation for a business.
That business is Mobrium.
With a blended experience of ecommerce and company culture, both centered on public reviews, Matt identified a clear need many companies experience:=
What is that?
Reputation disparity occurs when a product or company has great ratings on one site and poor ratings on another.
Why does that matter?
It absolutely shatters consumer trust and damages sales. Think about it.
Would you buy a product that has 900+ reviews, 4.8-stars on one site and 1,700+ reviews, 2.9-stars on another? Probably not. And neither do other people. In Matt’s research, he found the average consumer consults 10.4 sources of information before purchasing. CITATION These could include online reviews, unboxing videos, social media posts and asking for friends’ opinions. Because reviews are the only form of UGC (user generated content) that’s scored (with star ratings) and totaled (with a displayed total number of reviews) they tend to greatly impact sales over time compared to other, more less consistent forms of UGC.
Optimizing product reviews requires consistent review requests and review management to ensure every product listing for the same product has a healthy, balanced representation of customer feedback.
Matt found that applying all four-steps of The Review Cycle to all product listings balanced star ratings and scores as a more true reflection of customers’ opinions.
And doing that dramatically increased sales by millions of dollars when he and his team applied these principles to thousands of product listings.
Matt also observed that the same principles applied to employers reviews on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, Comparably and InHerSight…BUT…the risk and reward was significantly higher.
Product reviews are mostly linear, impacting one stakeholder group - shoppers. You stand to win or lose one thing by managing (or not managing) product reviews. That’s sales.
Employer reviews influence many stakeholder groups for better or worse:
The principles Matt had developed in The Review Cycle were proven to work across industries, for product reviews, company reviews and employer reviews, but they were largely applied manually and required learned expertise.
So in September of 2022, Matt quit his VP job at iFIT to build a self-serve software product that automates the principles of The Review Cycle and expands upon it with technology.
Both Crista and Matt had experienced positive and negative company cultures. They saw an opportunity to systematically help employers not just showcase a better #EmployerReputation on review sites, but also use insights gained to truly enhance the #EmployeeExperience for team members. Doing this is good for people. It’s also good for business.