Hugo Outperformed the Competition for a Memorabilia Retailer

Author: Andrea Okonkwo

A UK-based specialist in sporting and entertainment memorabilia has been offering unique pieces for individual collectors and sports enthusiasts since 2015. With both a dedicated website and a thriving eBay store boasting over 7,000 products sold to a global customer base, the client distinguishes itself through its custom framing service for jerseys, offering premium materials and innovative LED-framed options.

The Challenge: Managing Growth and Customer Expectations in a Global Memorabilia Market

Despite their success and unique offerings, the memorabilia retailer faced significant operational challenges as it experienced rapid growth:

Customer Service Bottlenecks: The high volume of inquiries, complaints, and refund requests on its eBay platform and the website led to response times often exceeding 24 hours, while a single communication channel hampered efficient engagement and customer satisfaction.

Complex and Delayed Listings: Managing thousands of unique listings and promptly updating newly signed memorabilia during peak events was challenging and time-consuming, leading to inconsistent details, reduced visibility, and missed sales opportunities on its eBay platform and website.

Shipping and Order Processing Delays: The team struggled with providing timely and accurate updates on order statuses, tracking numbers, and product availability, especially for international shipments, increasing customer anxiety.

Competitive Positioning Challenges: Constantly monitoring competitors and adjusting offerings consumed significant resources, straining the team’s ability to focus on other crucial business areas.

Reputation and Review Management: Daily monitoring and responding to customer reviews, along with handling complaints, returns, and refunds, required significant effort, impacting the team’s ability to focus on core business activities and maintain high customer satisfaction.

To address these challenges, the client adopted a Champion-Challenger model, engaging two outsourcing providers—Hugo and a Challenger—to determine the best service and value. The Challenger was chosen due to lower hourly rates, approximately 15% less than Hugo’s. Because of this, the client migrated more than half of their BPO work to the Challenger to take advantage of their lower rate. However, the issues persisted under the Challenger’s management, impacting customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

The Solution

To address the pricing differential with the Challenger partner, Hugo developed a comprehensive strategy focused on delivering superior value rather than competing solely on price. This approach aimed to generate incremental value within their initial pricing structure, effectively countering the Challenger’s lower-cost model.

Hugo’s strategy was built on three key principles:

  • Identifying and addressing the Challenger’s limitations.
  • Implementing innovative, cost-effective solutions.
  • Delivering superior results coupled with scalable business recommendations.

In addition to the above, Hugo implemented a comprehensive strategy that included:

Customer Service Enhancement

Hugo deployed a specialized team of highly skilled agents, handpicked for their deep industry expertise.  Applying Hugo’s core CX philosophy, the team leads with an empathy-first approach designed to foster genuine rapport with clients while resolving inquiries efficiently and with greater satisfaction.

In close collaboration with the client, Hugo established comprehensive communication channels, including email, live chat, and eBay integration, ensuring round-the-clock support with consistent sub-hour response times. The agents, versed in the retailer’s offerings and protocols, handled inquiries with speed and precision. Additionally, Hugo introduced a Zendesk workflow system, streamlining FAQs and optimizing procedures for handling complaints and refunds effectively.

Proactive Communication and Follow-up

An SMS concierge messaging system was introduced to provide customers with real-time shipping updates, including notifications on customs clearance. Additionally, Hugo set up a follow-up process that proactively engaged buyers in discussions about future memorabilia needs and encouraged reviews, significantly enhancing customer satisfaction and engagement.

Agile Inventory and Product Listing Management

Specialized agents were deployed to create accurate and up-to-date product listings within 1 hour of receiving new information, ensuring a rapid response to new inventory. Leveraging Typeform for efficient content workflows, the team maintained consistent, high-quality listings across all sales channels. They quickly launched collections tied to real-time sporting events and monitored competitor listings, enabling timely pricing and offering adjustments to maintain competitiveness.

Specialized Order Processing

Expert training for the team handling custom framing options, including LED frames, was provided, enhancing both processing efficiency and customer communication. The agents also brought valuable expertise to support international shipping inquiries and logistics, ensuring smooth and reliable service for global customers.

Online Presence Management

Hugo’s team also collaborated with the client on standardizing social media processes, including a 30-minute comment response policy, and implemented a concierge approach for proactive user engagement. This strategy gathered valuable feedback, informed inventory decisions, and significantly boosted the client’s online presence and engagement.

According to John M., the CEO, “Hugo revolutionized our memorabilia business, outperforming our previous provider in every metric. Their value-driven approach boosted efficiency and customer satisfaction. Despite higher initial costs, Hugo’s strategy has driven substantial growth, proving invaluable to our company.

The Result

Hugo’s solutions significantly outperformed the previous provider:

  • Response Time Reduction: Reduced eBay and website inquiry response time to within 1 hour, boosting conversion rates by 30%, compared to Challenger’s 5+ hours that failed to meet customer expectations.
  • Improved Customer Support Quality: Implementation of specialized email addresses, live chat, and Zendesk workflow system led to significant improvements in efficiency and quality. This resulted in a 99% CSAT score, outperforming the Challenger’s 87%.
  • Product Listing Efficiency and Consistency: New items were listed within 1 hour with 100% consistency across platforms. This drove a 25% sales increase and enhanced SEO by 15%, surpassing the Challenger’s 24+ hour turnaround and inconsistent listings that undermined customer trust and visibility.
  • Increased Customer Retention: Achieved a 33% increase in repeat buyers, more than tripling the Challenger’s 10% improvement.
  • High-quality Review Management: Increased online review rates by 40% while maintaining a strong 4.5-star average rating, enhancing the client’s online reputation.
  • Increased Service Level Agreement: Maintained a 75% service level agreement, significantly higher than the Challenger’s 60%, ensuring more efficient and timely customer support.

As a result of consistently outperforming targets and KPIs, Hugo secured 100% of the client’s outsourcing business, including taking over portions previously handled by the Challenger. This transition was completed smoothly over a 6-week period, with no disruption to customer service.


Keys to Success

  1. Hugo shifted the dialogue from pricing to value by delivering superior quality and customer satisfaction, justifying the 15% higher hourly rate through significantly improved performance metrics.
  2. Our comprehensive approach and strong operational performance surpassed the limitations of the previous provider, addressing multiple pain points simultaneously.
  3. Hugo’s flexibility, reliability, and value-based approach enabled efficient scaling of the client’s global operations, supporting a 40% year-over-year growth in total sales volume.

The CEO reflected on the partnership: “Hugo revolutionized our operations with consistent, responsive, personalized service across all channels. Their dedicated team’s flexibility and reliability significantly boosted our sales and customer retention, justifying the investment. Hugo’s ability to handle unexpected situations, e.g., absenteeism (when a team member falls ill), and scale our business globally, especially during crucial sporting events, has been invaluable.

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