[Benchmark] Customer service and brand communities

The digital world has transformed customer experience into one of the pillars of eCommerce. It has also helped online retailers and service providers to face three main challenges: 24/7 availability, a premium customer experience and cost optimisation. In order to meet these challenges, customer service has been focusing on two options which can be complementary to one another: internalisation and externalisation, also known as outsourcing.

In recent years, with the rise of brand communities, the situation has changed. Companies can now build and nurture their own community of brand advocates or use an on-demand pool of experts. The iAdvize platform is used by all types of customer service agents: brand advocates, internal or external professional agents or enthusiastic freelancers. To showcase their value, we have compiled the first benchmark of customer service players and evaluated the quality of service they provide.

Read more: [Customer service benchmark] customer service & brand communities

The main findings of this study 

  • 60% of online purchases take place during the evening or at weekends when customer service teams are often reduced in size and less available.
  • €423 is the average basket value of online shoppers who finalise their order after a contact with a customer service agent on the website.
  • 75% of the issues handled by savvy enthusiasts are about product features.

Different types of agents for different types of issues

eCommerce websites use different types of customer service agents according to their needs. For example, each conversation handled by a savvy enthusiast generates, on average €137, which is significantly higher than what other agents generate. Which means that savvy enthusiasts are the type of agents who generate the highest average turnover per contact. And when it comes to customer satisfaction, the champions are the brand advocates. The community generates the highest satisfaction rate on first level requests with an average satisfaction rate of 92,6%. The high satisfaction rate of online visitors advised by brand advocates is due to the authenticity and the emotion linked to sharing a personal experience.

Here are the main types of customer service agents brands use:

  • Internal customer service agents: they are employed by the company and are part of its customer service team. They have been recruited for their professional skills in customer service, digital communications and knowledge of the company’s products and services.
  • External customer service agents: they are employed by contact centres outside the company. Therefore, the company asks for the help of a service provider specialised in outsourcing, which provides a team of agents trained to use the tools and talk about its products. We have chosen to concentrate our research on the performance of contact centres localised in Europe.
  • Savvy enthusiasts paid to support a brands’ customer service teams: these are individuals who have cutting-edge knowledge about a subject, brand or product. They are independent and are selected by companies for their expertise in a field. They advise customers in real-time in exchange for additional income. Trained to know best customer service practices using messaging, they log into our conversational commerce platform whenever they want, generally during the evening or at weekends. The only market player who offers this service is ibbü, your on-demand pool of experts powered by iAdvize.
  • Benelovent brand advocates: these are customers and members of a brand community. They talk to customers on a voluntary basis whenever they want. The company develops a community management strategy to nurture and engage its brand advocates. It can motivate them with rewards and preferential offers. There are two types of brand communities: closed and open. In closed communities, only the members of the community who have been selected by the brand can advise other customers. In open communities, any website visitor can respond to other visitors. We concentrated our study on benevolent brand advocates members of closed communities.

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