South Africa: the emotional advantage

South Africa has grown its outsourcing business by 87% since 2010. The industry contributes 5.6bn Rand (£308m) to the country’s economy and employs over two hundred thousand people. This rapid growth has caused the world, certainly the outsourcing sector, to sit up and take notice. South Africa was recognised as the World’s Best Outsourcing Location by the National Outsourcing Association in 2012 and won the Offshore Destination of the Year award in 2013, awarded by the European Outsourcing Association (source).

So what gives South Africa its leading edge in offshore customer management capabilities? 370 thousand English speaking individuals enter the South African workforce every year. Well educated, empathetic and passionate, South Africa’s workforce presents a fluency in English that other offshore markets have failed to match. A strong cultural affinity is another advantage, along with an alignment in infrastructure since South Africa’s financial models are based on the UK’s.

Its competitive advantage doesn’t lie in time zone, cost and quality alone, but in the combination of all these critical factors with the added benefit of emotional intelligence. The South African workforce possesses a natural empathy and a high emotional quotient that is critical in customer contact management, when agents are called upon to manage their emotions and in turn, those of others as part of their job. Emotionally alert, educated, empathetic and aware of the necessities like compliance, this defines South Africa’s advantage in outsourcing.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss the true value of Webhelp’s ‘Compliant Interaction’ pricing model and how the South African operating environment provides the perfect marriage of two apparently opposing concepts - the hard and the soft.

South Africa – better customer experience

South Africa has become something of a success story in customer experience circles in recent years. Its buoyant BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry now contributes close to 6 billion Rand (ï½£350m) to the economy, and employs more than 200,000 people. The infographic below depicts the advantages South Africa has to offer organisations seeking to maximise their potential. 

White paper: South Africa - Powering performance through emotional engagement


South Africa Better Customer Experience


You get what you pay for: Putting the value back into customer experience offshoring

Craig Gibson, CEO of Webhelp South Africa, argues quality rather than quantity should be the primary concern for customer experience companies choosing an offshore location…

South Africa has become something of a success story in customer experience circles in recent years. Its buoyant BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry now contributes close to 6 billion Rand (£350m) to the economy, and employs more than 200,000 people.

In 2014 the number of people working in the sector in the Western Cape – just one of three provinces in which BPO is booming – has already grown 8%.  Meanwhile in the region as a whole, employment in the offshore sector has increased by an impressive 41%.

And the good news is the market is far from overheating. With more than 370,000 English speakers joining the workforce each year, there should be substantial growth opportunities for the offshore workforce in the foreseeable future.

All this being said, we remain cautious.  South Africa’s BPO industry is still susceptible to a unique quirk of the outsourcing sector – the belief that once a market reaches maturity, it’s time to get out before a shortage of talent and real estate begins to push prices up.

However, operators should look at moving to cheaper locations to reduce costs at their peril if they fail to factor quality into the equation.  In itself, moving operations to a new location comes with significant set-up costs and can be inherently risky, meanwhile it also closes the door on a substantial opportunity in the existing market.

By investing in the talent and resources they’ve already spent considerable time and effort developing, instead of burning them, outsourcers can actually stand to achieve far greater efficiency gains and long-term customer experience improvements.

In South Africa for example, sustained outsourcers’ investment has stabilised costs while substantially developing the local talent pool.  Outsourcers have also funded vast improvements in the county’s telecoms infrastructure which have made it an even more attractive offshore proposition.

The trick is in establishing a true measure of costs, versus value. Where low costs have for many years been the predominant driver for the offshore sector, smart businesses realise they don’t necessarily deliver the best value.

Sure, a new market may be 20% cheaper in terms of labour and operations, but these savings are worth nothing if the new operations don’t provide the quality customer experience needed to maintain sales performance, loyalty and retention.

When you begin to consider the value a given location and its talent can deliver, suddenly the cheapest option becomes a secondary consideration.

When we began to look at South Africa, we found a well-educated, intelligent and articulate population whose English language fluency and close cultural similarities to Western Europe.  All these factors made them a perfect fit for our clients with English-speaking customers which added substantial value.

Ultimately however, to deliver an excellent customer experience that achieves business objectives, interactions must be compliant. This is critical, regardless of how much they cost to deal with, or where they’re managed.

But just how exactly do you measure this?

While average handle time and speed to answer are relatively easy to assess, the same cannot be said of the customer experience. It’s not enough to simply measure customers’ happiness and brand loyalty, you need to find a way of gauging their satisfaction with each individual interaction.

In the same way as we use Touchpoint Net Promoter Scores (tNPS) directly after interactions to establish a customers’ likelihood to recommend the brand, we’ve begun experimenting with sentiment analysis to determine their mood and whether their disposition to the brand has been positively or negatively affected by their contact.

As a result we’re able to provide our team members’ with feedback to further improve customer experience, which in turn reduces waste and improves efficiencies even further.

By building well-governed operations that focus on delivering sustainable value, rather than turning a quick buck, and by working with local governments to build talent rather than burn through it, it’s our belief that we can change our relationship with offshore locations.  Ultimately, we hope this will ensure ‘maturity’ in offshore markets comes to be – as it is with South African fine wines – something to savour.

Download our white paper on South Africa: powering performance

Webhelp UK’s 212 Team wins top industry award

Webhelp UK’s ‘212 Team’ took the UK Customer Experience Awards 2014 to new heights last night as it scooped an acclaimed industry award in the ‘People - Best Customer Experience: Team – A Whole New Level’ category.

The ‘212’ customer experience professionals, based in our Rothesay and Dearne Valley sites, fought off steep competition by Barclaycard ViP Spain, First Data, Scottish Water and Visa Europe to come out on top.

Now in their fifth year, the awards celebrate and reward excellence in customer experience and support organisations and businesses that wish to promote an exceptional customer experience.

The Webhelp ‘212 Team’ enriched the lives of everyone involved in the  campaign by leading the way in driving customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

The concept behind the team’s name comes from a very powerful and natural resource – water.  At 211° water is hot, at 212° it boils creating steam which can power a locomotive.  By applying that extra degree of effort Webhelp UK believes that great results can be achieved and this award win recognises the great success the team has had with delivering the ‘ultimate customer experience’.

The judges were impressed with Webhelp’s customer centric culture and innovative approach in its efforts to lead the way in customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

Finalists in each of the categories presented their entry to a team of Judges at ExCeL London yesterday morning, 25 September 2014, and the winners were announced throughout the afternoon.

Zoe Bateman, Gary Harvey and Laura Marjai presented the entry and attended the ceremony to accept the award.  Zoe said:

“What an Amazing Experience, I will never forget the ‘winning feeling’ and as a team we all stood proud on the stage representing Webhelp!  It was great to be part of an event where I met so many people who are as passionate about customer experience as I am.

“I look forward to continuing to share the 212 Experience with all.”

Sales & Marketing Director at Webhelp UK, Mike Purvis, said:

“The opportunity to showcase and gain recognition for our hard work and outstanding customer experience results has led to this great news, which further adds to the numerous awards already won this year. Congratulations to the ‘212 team’.

Webhelp is internationally renowned for its innovative approach to customer experience management and this is largely down to the quality of our teams.”

Web chat: adding value

Today, 31% of organisations use web chat to support customer service and 30% use it to support sales (source). We know that web chat is a valuable customer communication channel. It has the highest levels of customer satisfaction- 73% compared to 61% for email and 44% for phone (source). However, as previously highlighted by Webhelp UK’s Solutions Director Dave Pattman, it shouldn’t be viewed as the quick and easy solution to all customer service challenges. The repercussions of improper implementation mustn't be ignored. 25% of shoppers resent intrusive chat invitations and they could end up feeling alienated (source), an outcome entirely counterproductive to optimising the customer experience.

Our client, one of UK’s leading entertainment providers, describes web chat as ‘bringing human beings into our digital channels’. This is essentially how web chat works best, in adding value without disruption. Through our work with pioneering web chat implementations we’ve identified 7 key steps in the implementation of a successful web chat strategy, as detailed in our white paper Time to Chat: Capturing the value of next generation web chat

  1. Be strategic - identify when a web chat invitation will add value
  2. Be pragmatic - evolve your web chat strategies based on testing, impact on customer journey and user behaviour
  3. Be realistic - understand the true cost of web chat by realistic agent goals without harming the customer experience
  4. Be personal - link next best action strategies to web chat to enable powerful personalisation capability
  5. Be focused - find your success criteria, evaluate success and continue to evolve
  6. Be digital first - stay in channel and define the role of web chat in omni-channel strategies
  7. Be smart - find the right agents, focus on empowering them with excellent product knowledge and optimise the digital customer journey

Web chat is breathing new life into customer experience innovation as well as right shoring strategies. Offshore markets are financially attractive, overcoming the long-standing challenge of accent and delivering new levels of cost efficiency. Web chat has the power to transform the way organisations and customers interact and I personally find the future very promising!


Webhelp UK hosts ‘Star Awards’

Webhelp has celebrated the talent amongst its customer service professionals at a glittering black tie event at the National Railway Museum in York.

The customer experience management company’s ‘Star Awards’ are Webhelp’s way of recognising the wealth of talent and flair it has across its UK teams.

This is the fourth consecutive year Webhelp has rolled out the red carpet with over 250 colleagues attending the gala dinner, including representatives from five of our clients. 

Competition for the awards was stiff, with 207 Webhelp colleagues and four teams shortlisted across 11 categories, including the coveted award for ‘Team of the Year’ and distinguished ‘The Making a Difference Award’, acknowledging the valuable charity and community work carried out by team members, outside of the business, throughout the year.

Nominated by their colleagues, the recognition programme offers shortlisted individuals the chance to win a cheque for £1,000 along with an illustrious Star Awards trophy and certificate. 

The winning professionals were chosen by a judging panel made up of WebhelpÂ’s Executive Director team. There were vocal celebrations at the museum when the winners were announced. Taking home the prizes were: 

  • Rising Star of the Year: David Hoy, Contact Centre Associate, Kilmarnock
  • Shining Star of the Year: Alan MacIntyre, Customer Experience Leader, Glasgow
  • The Brightest Star of the Year: Matthew Clark, Business Trainer, Dearne Valley
  • Team Leader of the Year: Steven Woodman, Team Leader, Derby
  • Role Model of the Year in a Support Role: Lisa Huggins, HR Business Partner, Kilmarnock
  • People Manager of the Year: Stephanie Lavelle, Senior Operations Manager, Warrington
  • The Wow Factor: Jim Findlay, Insight Solutions Consultant, Falkirk
  • Role Model of the Year in an Operational Role: Josie Colquhoun, Customer Experience Manager, Glasgow
  • The I.C.U.R. Wow Award: Umair Tahir, Sales Ledger Assistant, Falkirk
  • The Webhelp UK Team of the Year: Office Depot -212 - Zoe Bateman, Dearne Valley and Rothesay
  • The Making a Difference Award: Karen McNicol, Customer Experience Leader, Glasgow

Webhelp UK star awardsWebhelp UK Star AwardsWebhelp UK star awards

Webhelp UK star awardsWebhelp UK star awardsWebhelp UK Star Awards

Webhelp UK Star AwardsWebhelp UK Star AwardsWebhelp UK Star Awards

Webhelp UK Star AwardsWebhelp UK Star AwardsWebhelp UK Star AwardsWebhelp UK Star Awards

Webhelp UK Star Awards

There was deserved praise and tributes to all those who were shortlisted, with the judges acknowledging the difficult job they had in determining one winner from each category. 

Special acknowledgement was also made to the shortlisted colleagues in The Making a Difference Award.  This accolade recognises those within the Webhelp UK team that have gone that extra mile, work tirelessly and selflessly to support and make a difference within their local communities or a chosen charity.  

Karen McNicol a Customer Experience Leader based in Glasgow was crowned the winner for her generous work with the Glasgow City Mission, and as a result Webhelp has donated £1,000 to the charity.  The award further recognises the other finalistÂ’s causes by donating £250 to each charity.  These include the childrenÂ’s charity yipworld in Cumnock supported by William Cuthbert, Ardgowan Hospice in Greenock supported by Suzanne Nichol and Foley Court Retirement Home in Rothesay supported by Chris Park.

Webhelp Chief Executive, David Turner, acknowledged another exceptional year for the Webhelp Group, strongly supported by its UK teams. 

“Webhelp has undergone a transformational period in the past year, expanding our footprint on two continents, adding to our client portfolio and continually upgrading our systems and how we operate. Our teams are a vital component in what we do and what we are able to offer and I believe it is very important that we take the opportunity to recognise this. 

“A sincere congratulations not just to tonight’s winners, but to all those nominated and our colleagues throughout the UK.”

Webhelp UK raises cash for island initiative

Team members from Webhelp UK’s Rothesay site have raised more than £200 for local community group, Light Up Bute. 

The team held a sponsored ‘dress down’ month in August to raise the funds for the Isle of Bute community initiative, whose mission is to inject fun into island life with events for children and adults. 

Established in 2013 by locals Grant Graham and Alex Simmons, the group has already held events to mark Easter and the May Bank holiday, a fancy dress parade for the Glasgow Fair and a charity football match. 

The money raised by the Webhelp team will go towards funding a fireworks spectacular and mini festival, ‘Rock the Prom’, featuring local acts and a fun fair, at Rothesay Prom on Saturday 8 November. 

Later this year, Light Up Bute will also take the helm at the town’s annual Christmas Fair on Saturday 20 December. 

Peter Cumminskey, Webhelp UK Engagement Ambassador in Rothesay, said:

“Light Up Bute is a fantastic initiative which has already brought a lot of fun to Rothesay this year. 

“With the fireworks display and Christmas Fair just round the corner, we’re proud to have been able to do our part to help support what promises to be even more fantastic events for the Island. “

Webhelp UK’s Dunoon friends and families come together for fundraiser

Webhelp has hosted its annual fun day for Dunoon and Cowal Hospice and raised over £200.

Alongside a barbeque, the event included a bouncy castle, a candy floss stand, a chocolate fountain and a raffle.

Local businesses donated goods for the raffle with some fantastic prizes up for grabs. Webhelp’s brave Operations Manager, Robin Danks, raised £50 when he allowed his fellow team members to soak him.

Local resident and piper Jade McCartan was on hand to pipe for the crowd, getting everyone in the spirit for the Cowal Highland Games.

Webhelp’s UK sites have Ambassadors who look after employee and community engagement, often organising fundraising or local voluntary activities for fellow team members.

The fun day was organised by Ambassadors Fiona McCartan, Natalie Bonnar, Robert Paterson and Julie Geoghegan.

Fiona McCartan, a Team Leader at the Dunoon site, commented on the day. Fiona said:

“We had a lot of fun organising the day and we were so pleased we were able to contribute to such a fantastic cause.

“None of this would be possible without enthusiastic team members and support from senior management and we are very grateful to have both behind us with this initiative.”

Commenting on the day, Webhelp Operations Manager, Robin Danks said:

“The fun day not only showcased the talent we have here at Webhelp but the spirit among our staff and their willingness to give back to the Dunoon community.

“The Ambassadors organised a fantastic day for a very worthwhile cause and Webhelp looks forward to continuing its support for local causes.”

Web chat your customer

Enchanting customers with exceptional web chat.

This infographic explores the use of web chat as a customer support channel across various industries in the UK. It also highlights the benefits of incorporating proactive web chat into the customer lifecycle that helps customer make decisions at a crucial point in their journey. What is proactive web chat? Find out more.

Web Chant your customers

Webhelp UK kicks-off kids’ football initiative with Derby County Football Club

Leading customer experience company, Webhelp UK is celebrating the start of the football season with the launch of a new childrenÂ’s coaching initiative with Derby County Football Club.

As part of Webhelp UK’s on-going partnership with the club, the new ‘Kids Coaching Clinics’ will give Webhelp UK team members’ children free football training sessions at every home matchday this season.

Delivered by Derby CountyÂ’s Community Trust coaches, the sessions will give more than thirty kids the chance to hone their skills and put their talent to the test in front of representatives from the club.

Each child that attends the free session will also get the chance to see how the professionals do it in person, and will be invited to attend a first-team game at the iPro Stadium.

The initiative is the latest in a series of tie-ups between the Championship side and Webhelp UKÂ’s Pride Park site, where the 1,200-strong team regularly welcome members of the Derby squad to take part in charity events and signing sessions.

Tony Moorhouse, Customer Experience Manager at Webhelp UK played a key role in organising the ‘Kids Coaching Clinic’ initiative.

He said: “Getting kids involved in sport at an early age not only improves their fitness and health, but also builds discipline and develops team working.

“We’re pleased to have worked with Derby County Football Club, as part of our ongoing partnership, to develop these training clinics and give our team members’ children the chance to have fun, get involved and learn new skills under the guidance of Derby’s finest.”

Ashley Peden, Derby County Football Club, Commercial Manager said: “Derby County is pleased to continue its partnership with Webhelp UK with the development of the Kids Coaching Clinics.

“Many of the Webhelp team members’ children are already showing great promise, so it may just be that some of the youngsters involved could be future Rams stars.”

Later this year, Webhelp UK also hopes to work with the club to offer its team members the chance to train towards a FA level 1 coaching badge.

Kids Coaching Clinics delivered by Derby Football Club and Webhelp UK