This week, we were joined by Ria Paatni, the Co-Founder of ethical health and beauty brand, Fushi. Click here to listen to the podcast, or keep reading to discover how customer feedback has helped build trust in the brand, and how Fushi make sure transparency runs throughout everything they do – from their ingredients to their reviews!
Thanks so much for joining us, Ria! Fushi is a really unique brand. Would you mind telling us a bit about Fushi and what makes it so special?
It’s great to be here on the Feefo Spotlight! At Fushi, we’re all about pure and ethically made health and beauty products. We have our own London workshop where we hand-blend our products using fresh ingredients. It all began with the combined cultural heritage of (Co-Founder) Rennesh and myself from Ayurvedic family recipes that were handed down by our grandparents who used to blend oils and infuse herbs to create pure, natural remedies. Oils and herbs are the two pillar-stones of what we create here at Fushi. We make both inner use and outer care products, from herbal supplements to skin and hair care, always using our fresh pressed oils and fresh ground herbs to create our formulations. We take inspiration from both the old and the new, and we’re very passionate about delivering pure, honest and very carefully created products by hand.
You use feedback really well on your site, especially when it comes to individual product reviews. How do you think having those reviews on your website helps your customer experience?
We have always believed that reviews are very important. I think that we’re more likely to make a purchase if others around us, even people who happen to be total strangers, agree that it’s a good decision. Feefo reviews do that. They’re the biggest source of social proof – they have a clear impact on sales, and because they are for health and wellbeing, there’s a lot of interest from other customers to see how that particular product works for someone else. It was important for us to have this platform and it helped build significant trust and credibility from a steady stream of positive reviews. Of course, when there’s a negative one we’re able to contact that customer and get things resolved. It’s helped us improve.
If you’ve seen our reviews, you’ll see that we get a lot of detailed reviews with a lot of comments from customers explaining their health concerns – I think people are very generous to help others make these decisions for their wellbeing.
"I think that we’re more likely to make a purchase if others around us, even people who happen to be total strangers, agree that it’s a good decision. Feefo reviews do that. They’re the biggest source of social proof – they have a clear impact on sales."
When you discover a product or a brand which is a little less mainstream that you love, there’s the desire to tell other people about it. You’ve got a real opportunity to build amazing advocates for what you do, especially when it comes to sustainability and ethical products…
Yes, I think more and more people are feeling a sense of responsibility. We’re not a really big brand, but when people come across us and they see such positive reviews, it really reinforces the idea of ‘oh my gosh, what did I stumble across?’ and ‘how come I didn’t know about this brand?!’. When people have good things to say, they’re more likely to share their reviews.
We always wanted our reviews to remain authentic and transparent and not moderated by us. As a brand, our core values are honesty and integrity so it’s important that our customers read true, authentic reviews written by other customers and maintained on a third-party platform, of which we have no control. We communicate this all the time – that we do not moderate them, they are what they are, we cannot change them. I think that builds credibility for a small but growing brand like Fushi.
"As a brand, our core values are honesty and integrity so it’s important that our customers read true, authentic reviews written by other customers and maintained on a third-party platform, of which we have no control. We communicate this all the time – that we do not moderate them, they are what they are, we cannot change them. I think that builds credibility for a small but growing brand like Fushi."
People are naturally suspicious! If you see too much glowing feedback, you do start to question the authenticity. Being able to see that some people didn’t get on with a product feels more balanced and you can make a more rational decision…
Absolutely. Customers are smart – they can see what’s authentic and what seems manipulated. I think we’re in an age of openness, honesty and transparency and I think it works in all avenues.
There’s a big focus on your website around ethical practices. Your review content acts as a trust signal, but how big a role do you think trust and transparency plays in a business like yours, and how important do you think those trust signals are in terms of building customer confidence?
Trust takes time. You can have very clever marketing slogans, but ultimately, it’s over time that you build trust. We build that trust through many channels including through customer reviews, through the messages we put out on our website, from people on the forefront, the labelling and our ingredient listing.
We’ve also created a sustainability report on our website which is dynamic so we can keep updating it with any new changes we make. We do own up to mistakes when we make them, or when we’re not able to source something organic. All of these things are all just about being open and honest through all your communication. It’s important to be human as a brand and own up when you get things wrong. It almost makes people believe in you – you’re just a brand trying to do the best you can under the circumstances. Being very open about your mistakes when they happen can also help to build your reputation as a brand who doesn’t try to cover up.
"It’s important to be human as a brand and own up when you get things wrong. It almost makes people believe in you – you’re just a brand trying to do the best you can under the circumstances. Being very open about your mistakes when they happen can also help to build your reputation as a brand who doesn’t try to cover up."
I think people are quite fearful of holding their hands up and just saying ‘we messed up, we’re only human, but here’s how we dealt with it’…
And it is how you deal with things and resolve those issues. Eventually, all of these efforts, through the labelling, through the transparency of information, through the way we communicate, whether that’s an online help desk or on a phone call, on our literature, on our newsletter or of course our reviews – all of this over time, with good quality products, starts to build trust.
Sustainability and ethical practices are obviously a really big part of who you are, and that messaging is really evident on your site. What motivated you to become so uncompromising in that approach, and can you see any challenges in the practices you set up as you grow?
It will always be a challenge – but when something’s so important to you, it’s going to permeate into everything that you do. The Fushi team is very passionate about the environment, and it just comes naturally. When people collectively come together with the same values, you want to show that in the business you’re in. I think that we can always try to do better, the challenges are there. For example, we were the first brand to re-launch all our toiletries in glass bottles for zero-waste stores. This was quite a radical move to bring glass bottles into the bathroom, and we took that brave decision because it meant that much to us to move away from plastic – and our customers appreciated that. Perhaps we lost some who preferred the safer plastic option, but at the same time, we made a bold statement that we do what we believe in. In the long run, we’re building credibility in practicing what we preach.
Did you see that split of opinions in your customer feedback?
We actually only saw the positives reflected in the reviews. It was nice to get reassurance that we’ve made the right decision, but we knew it was the right choice to pave the way for plastic-free beauty. We know that there’s a change in consumer mindset and eventually other brands will follow suit. The positive feedback for the glass really encourages us. We know we’ve done the right thing.
When you’ve got a strong brand identity, your team are the people that help translate that through into everything you do. I think a lot of brands forget that and you can get a disconnect between the people that work for the brand and the people that forge it in the beginning. How important do you think it is to maintain those relationships with your staff to make sure that you’re constantly getting their feedback?
That’s hugely important because your people are your brand – marketing starts from within. Everyone needs to believe in the cause to be able to work successfully together. At Fushi, we’re very much a team and there’s a lot of overlap – we all take part in everything, and everybody helps to make decisions, everyone does product sampling, so it’s very much a team effort. Whenever we design something, everyone has a say in it. I think that kind of collective ownership makes everyone feel part of the effort. When we employ people, we always go for people already in that environmentally friendly mindset and living that lifestyle.
We keep very good communication throughout the business. We have our own intra chat system where we’re constantly chatting, saying things like ‘have you seen the new Feefo review?!’. We’re always sharing them with each other, so everyone feels a sense of ownership.
This has been an interesting year to say the least. Some retail businesses have had an incredible year, and some have really struggled. How has the experience been for Fushi, and how have you been able to maintain your relationships with your customers?
At Fushi we’ve been fortunate because we do both health and beauty. The health side has sustained us because wellbeing has become a primary concern for everyone as they try and maintain their immunity and be in the best of health. I think that the key in maintaining customer relationships is authenticity. Our customers are feeling what we are feeling, and as people we all connect on the same issues. We all had a hard time over lockdown, so we communicated on the same level and could understand what they needed more at the time. At Fushi, beauty became secondary and we immediately focused on health and wellbeing. It wasn’t about making sales, it was more about recommending products that were affordable and beneficial to the customer at this time. We advised and communicated things that really mattered, whether it was through our newsletter or on social media. Whatever we started to use at that time, is exactly what we were recommending to our customers. Their products became our own.
Mental wellbeing has also become a priority, and at Fushi we feel a sense of responsibility to mental wellbeing – we’re a brand that focuses on a lot of complimentary remedies that can help with anxiety and stress. We had a product that could help make a change and benefit people in this time. This was something that we were trying to communicate and focus on, and we’re continuously doing that.
"I think that the key in maintaining customer relationships is authenticity. Our customers are feeling what we are feeling, and as people we all connect on the same issues."
I imagine Christmas is the next ‘unknown’ on everybody’s minds. What are you expecting over the next few months?
We’re waiting to see what restrictions we have. We hope it will be busy. We love to gain insight from reviews, and there’s nothing more valuable than customer feedback. I think it’s about spending on things that really matter, less wastage, using less resources – and I think in that way we tick a lot of boxes with our environmentally friendly gifts for health and wellbeing. In those areas we have an advantage because the customer mindset has slightly changed and I think people are just a little bit more aware of using less and wasting less. I think we learnt that in lockdown.
"We love to gain insight from reviews, and there’s nothing more valuable than customer feedback."
Will you be using your feedback over the next couple of months to inform your communications on the run up to the Christmas period?
Yes – we’re always using our feedback. At the end of the day, it’s a great insight into what the customer is looking for. We’ve done surveys, we’re more aware of what everyone is interested in at the moment and it all helps us to channel our efforts in the right direction.
It’s clear that you’re so focused on your customers, which explains why you won our Feefo Platinum Trusted Service award last year – congratulations! What impact has winning that award had on your business?
It’s a great recognition for all the hard work from the team, and the Trusted Service award comes from a third party, so it’s very rewarding. It has been a great tool to use within our marketing and share with our international partners as it reinforces the way the customer perceives us. I believe that no other award can be more credible than how you’re perceived by the customer. We’ve always thought that winning awards that are directly customer experience impacted are far more valuable than industry awards. It’s like a medal that we’ve won, and it’s one awarded by the customers! It holds so much weight. I also think that customer experience will overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator in 2021, so awards like the Feefo Trusted Service award make a genuine impact.
"I think that customer experience will overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator in 2021, so awards like the Feefo Trusted Service award make a genuine impact."
So, one last question! We ask every one of our Spotlight guests to share a Feefo tip with the other listeners. What would you tell people about Feefo that they might not know?
From our experience, we’ve had fantastic service. We find Feefo very, very supportive – you exemplify amazing customer service. We’ve always been amazed at the responses that you give, which is immediate, and I think this is exactly what good customer service is. You almost demonstrate what we’re trying to do – and I think that a lot of people don’t realise that you’re more than just a reviews platform. You’re actually very supportive of businesses, and you’re helping businesses get the best out of your service.
I think in this day and age, when you get a response straight away, it’s like magic! That’s what you guys at Feefo have done well – you’re super attentive and I think that really helps.
Thank you so much for joining us, Ria. We wish you and Fushi so much success in the coming months. Make sure you check out Fushi here!
If you’d like to find out more about how Feefo can help you improve your customer experience, get in touch today.
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