In 2012, Gartner Consulting conducted a wide study looking at the impact of communities on customer service. This study foresaw that by 2014, organizations integrating their communities into customer support would realize cost reductions ranging from 10 to 50%. The study also predicted that through 2015, collaborative customer service processes would be a dominant theme in customer service.
So how are companies involving their online brand communities to encourage peer to peer customer service and which approach generates a return on investment?
The beauty product store, Sephora, have done a great job building an online community of users on their website called Beauty Talk. This on-site forum enables users to exchange tips and advice. Furthermore, the customer service team can pick up on social conversations and invite them to join the Beauty Talk.
However, research by eDigital Research shows that live chat has the highest customer satisfaction rate of all customer service touchpoints; a rate that is rising, year on year. Therefore, by enabling your online visitors and users to chat with each other on your brand website in real-time, your business is not only making the most of the collaborative trends but also meeting the channel expectations of online shoppers.
Achieving ROI with community chat
Providing a community chat service shows you value your user community and builds brand loyalty. However, your business will achieve maximum ROI with this approach if it is combined with professional customer service. Indeed, this solution achieves full impact when the right visitor is connected with the right adviser. That could be a brand enthusiast or a professional agent. Thanks to a customized behavioral targeting strategy, agents are able to spend time advising online visitors who really need their help to complete their purchase, removing doubt and friction in the check-out funnel. In other words, they can focus on questions where their support will really make the difference in terms of customer experience and online sales.
With a strategic engagement approach, visitors are dispatched, either to the community or the professional customer service team, according to the issue they face, their basket value or past interactions with the brand. This way, they get the best answer from the most appropriate person and your business maximizes return on investment.
How Le Petit Vapoteur multiplied ROI by 4 with the combination of community and customer service support
Le Petit Vapoteur is a good example of how ‘traditional’ customer service and community advice can be combined to create value for customers and the business. On their website, visitors in the discovery phase are routed towards the community of brand enthusiasts. This enables their professional agents to focus on handling contacts which generate incremental sales. 25,7% of visitors who receive advice from a professional agent complete their purchase. By combining Click to Chat and Community Messaging, the website has multiplied by 4,3 the return on investment they achieve with their chat solution: for each euro invested, 16,27 euros are gained!
Moreover, community experts can easily use the ‘transfer to another agent’ feature at any point during a chat.
“When they’re not sure how to answer a question, the community users transfer the chat to a professional agent. They stay within their comfort zone, which is also reassuring for the customers.”
Benjamin Rose, community manager at le Petit Vapoteur.
When it comes to sharing opinions about how to use a specific product, the advantages of one product compared to another or giving tips for gifts, your community of brand enthusiasts are in a great position to give advice. This kind of question generally arises at the beginning of an online shopper’s research and a personalized exchange with someone who has already used the product can contribute to creating that first emotional connection between the visitor and the brand.
However, when it comes to very specific questions that might also involve sensitive data, customers prefer the professional support of a customer service agent. This is also the case with high value purchases like a special holiday, car insurance, or a brand new kitchen that require a lot of thought, a higher level of commitment and that therefore deserve professional advice.
By giving your brand enthusiasts the chance to chat with other users on your website and combining their experience with your agents’ expert knowledge, there is a clear opportunity for your business to drive website traffic, build brand loyalty and reduce contact costs.
This post originally appeared on Social Media Today.