Why Transformative Outsourcing Is The Future

I sometimes attend conferences and events that are still just focused on the catch all strategy ‘outsourcing’. Of course, ten or fifteen years ago there was a fierce debate about the outsourcing of customer service processes because clients felt that the service experience was too close to their core to outsource and suppliers argued that they could do it better so it makes sense.

But time has moved on so much. Now, I believe that there is such a change in the way that customers behave it is almost impossible for a single brand to manage every aspect of an omnichannel strategy without the help of expert partners. In fact, I believe there are three big strategic shifts that have changed how outsourcing and partnerships work today:

  1. Changing communication patterns: the explosion in the use of smart phones with mobile Internet access has led to customers expecting to have access to information such as price comparisons, reviews, customer comments, and the ability to publish their own views. They expect to be able to engage with brands the way that they engage with each other – not be forced to use a specific channel at a specific time of day. Can you imagine asking a client to call a fixed line number during 9am-5pm now and suggesting that this is the only way to reach the service team?
  2. Multichannel complexity: As with the communication changes, social networks have created an explosion in channels where customers can talk about brands and products. They are doing it and if they are not answered then they feel ignored – even if a query was not addressed directly at the brand. The discussion, praise, comment, and complaint the form brand engagement needs to be found and the brand has to interact in the places where the customers want to be. This adds a layer of technological complexity because customers do not come to you – you need to find them.
  3. Supply Chain: the way customers behave is changing the internal function of many companies – particularly in areas like retail. Click to collect, ordering online for store collection, returning goods in-store that were bought online. All these processes are changing how the entire supply chain needs to be managed internally and this is entirely because the customer expectations have increased.

Getting the customer experience right today is not only transformative for a business it is about survival. Customers are footloose. They now expect companies to engage and behave this way and it doesn’t mean just answering a few tweets. Genuine interaction is tough, particularly when you try to plan a complete omnichannel strategy that encompasses all present and future channels.

As a general business strategy, outsourcing has often been used as a catalyst for transformation. It makes sense. It’s easier to reshape a business when you are bringing in an outside partner to take over various functions than when you are just juggling internal functions. But in sectors like retail there has been such a reshaping of the internal business – the value chain – and the external communications that getting interactions with customers to work well today requires a partnership. For all these reasons above, it works better by bringing the experts together.

So I think we will see this transformative approach across the board. Companies will use the power of technology to get better insights into their customers with experts who might be working inside their headquarters, but might be on another payroll, and what is the end result?

Customers who love engaging with the brand – that’s what we all want to see. Transformative outsourcing – even just outsourcing – needs to be renamed to transformative partnerships because there is a new way of working that is symbiotic and relies on the skills of the supplier helping the client to succeed.

Transformative partnership is the real future.

Do you agree that this approach will be adopted across the board? Let me know in the comments below, or connect with me on LinkedIn to continue the discussion.

A New Approach to Outsourcing – Contracting for Customer Value

In the old days rudimentary cost reduction was the primary aim of most outsourced customer management relationships.  Performance was driven by tough productivity targets that focused on process efficiency rather than service quality.  Suppliers routinely – and not surprisingly – compromised quality in order to avoid the financial penalties they would incur if those productivity targets weren’t met.

There can be no doubt that customers suffered. But clients suffered too, learning the hard way that customer discontent leads to customer disaffection and subsequent loss of revenue.  Today we live in a more enlightened world. 88.6% of organisations now see the drive for customer satisfaction as intrinsic to their strategy and 71.6% view the customer experience as a commercial differentiator (1).   They now want their outsourcing partners to ‘add value’ rather than just ‘reduce cost’.  Progressive, enlightened outsourcers are responding by aligning their performance, not against draconian productivity targets, but against customer value outcomes; increased satisfaction, loyalty, advocacy and spend.

At Webhelp we link our remuneration, first to the quality of the customer experience we deliver and, second, to the cost efficiencies we achieve through innovation – cost savings that never compromise the customer experience.

(1) Dimension Data Global Contact Centre Report, 2015

Has your approach to performance and renumeration changed? I'd love to discuss this with you, either in the comments below, or on Twitter at @DavidTurnerCXO



Retail Banks: Are The Challenger Banks Enough?

UK retail banking has been through quite a change in the past 6 or 7 years from the previously unimagined bank runs on Northern Rock to nationalisation and back again. With the government now unwinding state investments in Lloyds and RBS and new ‘challenger’ brands emerging is the industry performing how customers expect?

No. Even with the High Street shake up driven by the challengers, this is an industry where customer expectations are diverging from what the banks are offering.

Look at retail for an example of how brands are reacting to customer expectations. House of Fraser is a great example as I was discussing some of their omnichannel strategy on LinkedIn last week. HoF is reorganising their management and customer focused teams to be driven entirely by the needs of their customer, whether that customer is in a store or online. They are removing the distinction and trying to offer a great service to all customers – not just those on preferred channels.

What is the reality in banking? Well, a recent publication by the British Bankers Association (BBA) features some revealing statistics:

  • 10.6 million banking app logins every day
  • 22.9 million banking apps downloaded
  • £2.9 billion a week transferred using apps
  • 43% decline in telephone contact to banks from 2008 to 2013
  • 6% decline in branch use in the past year

Look at the final two. Visits to bank branches are declining dramatically year on year and the use of telephone banking has been in freefall since 2008. Customers want more. They want the same convenience in banking that they can find from other industries – like retail.

Imagine going to a car dealer and being told that it’s easier to get a new car if you stick with the same manufacturer as your present one, and you can’t compare the prices of alternatives once the dealer gives you a quote on a vehicle?

It sounds absurd, but isn’t this how banks still treat customers? It’s often easier to get new products from the one that has your current account and if a product such as a loan or insurance is offered, how easy is it to run a quick comparison with a rival bank?

The challenger brands are shaking up retail banking on the High Street. Opening hours are being improved and services are becoming easier to purchase, but the entire industry is facing a new challenge from market entrants.

Companies that offer individual financial services are often able to give customers a better deal because they have a narrow product focus and no need to manage a branch network. Even big non-financial brands are offering financial services. You can ask car manufacturer Renault, or any of the big supermarkets, for a personal loan.

The Financial Tech (FinTech) market is also growing fast. Individual financial services offered via apps means that customers can download a tool, get a quick quote on a product and choose whether to use it, at any time of day or night.

So how can the challenger banks and the big established banking brands compete in this new world of financial services? By improving the customer experience. Customers still trust and respect their banks. This is where they have always conducted financial services and it remains the most obvious place to go for most customers. Peer-to-peer lending might be exploding in popularity, but it is still dwarfed by the amount of personal loans issued by the big banking brands.

But, as the BBA research indicates, if the gap between customer expectations and the reality of how banks treat customers get wider then there will be an exodus. Customers are already impatient. If the situation gets worse, the traditional brands and even the High Street challengers will look archaic in the way they treat customers.

What every bank executive needs to be thinking right now is how do I place the customer at the heart of what we do? How do we make it easy to ask questions? How do we make it easy to obtain services when the customer needs them? How do we make the customer journey so easy that banks inspire loyalty from happy customers?

The customer experience is now the number one priority for all banking brands, including the challengers, but it’s not just me saying this. Take a look at the BBA research for yourself by visiting their website here.

What do you think of the way that the challenger banks are changing UK banking and whether it is enough to keep up with customer expectations? Leave a comment here or tweet me on @DavidTurnerCXO

Hubbing in to Portugal

With many businesses finding themselves in an increasingly international market, it is appealing to service the majority of Europe from a single location. Especially for customer care activities, the level of support staff can be used much more effectively than a multi-country solution. That is why we have been travelling around Europe to find the ideal multi-lingual hub that can support every language in Europe, alongside having low prices and high quality. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a single ‘ideal solution’; or at least, the perception of an ideal solution shifts over time. 15 year ago the ideal solution was in Amsterdam and in the meantime it has shifted from Dublin to Berlin to Barcelona, to several places in Eastern Europe and latterly to Portugal. Webhelp runs multi-lingual locations in various areas of Europe, playing to their individual strengths; the Netherlands for high value technical work, Romania for back office work streams, and Portugal for Voice.

I think that Portugal is still the place to be in terms of Multi-Lingual hubs in Europe. Although development started ten years ago, and may be over its peak, it is still one of the most exciting options, so visiting Lisbon and the rest of Portugal is great to manage and steer our own development ideas. Lisbon just being such a pleasant city to be in is clearly one of the great attractions. Spending an evening around Praça do Commércio is obviously a high point on any working visit, but also embodies the secret behind Lisbon as a hub. Lisbon is both the Grand old lady who has withstood the trends of time, and the bustling metropolis full of (night)life.  For many people, starting a career in customer care in such surroundings with beaches, beautiful city sights and a laidback culture is an excellent opportunity. The danger lies in keeping those people captivated by their work and the environment in the long run.

Thus personal engagement is the key to maintaining a high quality multi-lingual hub. In my last trip I talked to people who had great personal experiences from really personalised and intimate recruitment processes, to fantastic development in their careers and great places to work; but also more than a few who seemed to be less happy in their environment. And in the competitive workplace that Lisbon now is in terms of opportunities for talent, that is the fine line between success and suffering high attrition.

Webhelp has recently kicked off our own activities in Lisbon in our drive to develop our international capabilities and we are happy with the current undertakings and growth. Portugal and Lisbon are a country and city that can even make times of hard work still feel so easy; a place I will gladly visit frequently over the coming months!

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Webhelp UK ‘Cook for a Smile’ in India raises over £2000 for charity

Leading BPO provider, Webhelp, cooked up a culinary storm in India to raise £2100 for a children’s welfare charity.

Corporate leaders from across the globe, including Webhelp UK’s Andy Webster who was a highly commendable runner-up in the competition,  joined four  time Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna for a heated charity cook-off, swapping business for biryani with the sole purpose of supporting Smile Foundation’s ‘Nutrition for Better Literacy’ campaign.

Webhelp’s partnership with the charity started as a result of the earthquake crisis in Nepal. It left a lasting impression on its 300 strong workforce in India who felt the tremors at the company’s HQ in Cyber Hub and subsequently saw all that was going on 600km away.

Since then, Webhelp has continued to express its support for the people of India and Nepal raising scores of money through games weeks, dress down days, sponsorships, collections and charity events such as the recent ‘Cook for a Smile’ event in Delhi.

Andy Webster, Director of Group Central Services at Webhelp UK, said: "It was an absolute pleasure to be involved in Smile Foundation’s fun initiative and to help raise money for an extremely important cause.

“Education is something that every child should have access to so as a business we are very proud to be able to support India’s next generation.

“We all had such a great day and in managing to finish second it taught me that my cooking wasn’t too bad after all.”

New Delhi-based Smile Foundation was established in 2002 by a group of young corporate professionals keen to positively change the live of underprivileged children, their families and communities in Delhi through grassroots initiatives, such as bringing education to those most in need.

Webhelp India was formed as a Professional Services and Live Chat centre of excellence for the Groups' operations in Europe and South Africa, offering both comprehensive and high quality levels of support across a number of key business areas.

GoExcellent certifies Nordic assignment in the COPC OSP Standard

GoExcellent certifies Nordic assignment in the COPC OSP Standard*

2015-09-11 STOCKHOLM

GoExcellent has achieved compliance for a Nordic assignment COPC OSP Standard*, Release 5.2, and is now certified.

- "We started up this assignment for one of our global clients just months ago, and we are very happy to have achieved compliance in such a short period of time, and on a Nordic level, says GoExcellent’s CEO Terje Andreassen. This certification is a further proof that GoExcellent is a Nordic player capable of delivering world class customer experience.”

* The COPC OSP Standard is a performance management system designed to meet client needs, sales, business development, and managing client relationships and improve process-, quality- and people management for an Outsourced Service Provider.
• For selected programs GoExcellent has been certified since 2005, being the first contact center in the Nordics within this framework.
• In 2012 GoExcellent were the first contact center in the world to achieve compliance to release 5.0 of the COPC standard.
• Currently GoExcellent has on-going recertifications for previously certified assignments
About GoExcellent

GoExcellent Group specializes in running Contact Centers in the Nordics. With more than 20 million customer interactions per year, annual revenue of 80 MEUR, 9 locations and 2000 employees, GoExcellent has become one of the largest vendors in the Nordic Region. Among the clients are Canal Digital, Fortum, RiksTV, and Samhall. Head office is in Stockholm, GoExcellent’s contact centers are in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki, and six other places in Finland, Norway and Sweden.

For more information, please contact:
Terje Andreassen, CEO
+46 70 226 42 85

Webhelp UK shortlisted for three prestigious CCA Excellence Awards

Webhelp UK has been shortlisted for three prestigious industry accolades at this year’s CCA Excellence Awards, taking place in Glasgow on 25 November.

Categories the business has been nominated for include:

•  Contact Centres – Great places to work, Webhelp Derby

•  Best Outsourcing Partnership, Office Depot

•  Contact Centre Team of the Year – B2B

The ‘Contact Centres – Great places to work’ category recognises Webhelp’s flagship Derby site, highlighting its role as a state of the art centre of customer excellence, pivotal to the on-going success of its UK business.

The size and design of the site have been credited with creating a more relaxed and stimulating working environment. Best in class facilities and a focus on employee engagement have helped to not only increase engagement levels but have also contributed towards the exceptional levels of performance seen across each of its campaigns.

The ‘Best Outsourcing Partnership’ shortlist comes as a result of Webhelp’s work with Office Depot. Over the past nine years, Webhelp has become a natural extension of the global supplier’s team delivering a range of solutions which have put the customer experience at the heart of what they do. The two businesses have forged a strong and successful working relationship with Webhelp assisting in growing the Office Depot business internationally, setting up sites in Morocco and South Africa.

The ‘Contact Centre Team of the Year – B2B’ nomination was secured through Webhelp’s relationship with another leading UK retailer. The business’s Helpdesk team were tasked with ensuring all its clients UK and Ireland stores maintain store compliance and meet all regulatory standards; whilst responding to faults and ensuring that they are efficiently resolved.

This was achieved by providing a complete end-to-end service ensuring effective communication between all departments and a strong administrative structure that tracked all the work undertaken.

David Turner, CEO at Webhelp UK, said: “These three nominations are testament to the hard work, dedication and innovative thinking displayed by colleagues across the business. It’s fantastic to know that the judges believe we are doing the best by both our clients and the people that work for us.

“The strength of these award entries are staggering. I’m proud to see that we are clearly pushing boundaries to make sure a first class customer experience is achievable across a broad range of clients.”

CCA Excellence Awards is the most respected and sought-after recognition programme, unique through its peer group judging process. The judging panel includes professionals from all sectors and senior executives with wide-ranging experience in customer contact and customer service.

Blog: A not so manic Monday……

Webhelp Team Leader, Gavin Miller, discusses the benefits of bringing some calm to those Monday mornings.

Read up on it in our latest blog here

A not so manic Monday……

by Gavin Miller, Team Leader at Webhelp Greenock

“A fast paced changing environment”. This is normally the first thing you read when you apply for a job in a contact centre and there are no better words to describe our business. We see change as positive, which if handled correctly usually leads onto bigger and more exciting things… but it does bring about some challenges along the way.

One thing that always struck me as odd until I became a team leader was the phrase “oh no, it’s my Monday today”.  I couldn’t get my head around that because people would say it with a genuine sound of fear in their voice… and on different days of the week!

But as a team leader, your first day back after two days off, no matter what period of the week it falls on, is most definitely a Monday. A day so manic that everything goes an extra 10mph faster than you could ever prepare yourself for.

It’s on these days that your “to do list” takes up both sides of the page, and you drink so much coffee that you could stay awake for a week. Before you know it you are knee deep in reports and you’ve seen so many numbers that you forget the pin for your phone.

For example, the key to success on a Weddy-Monday (My way of describing a Monday that lands on a Wednesday) lies in stability. If you can find yourself the tiniest fragment of stability on a floating Monday, then the clouds will part, rainbows will fill the streets, birds will sing! Well, maybe not that far but it can certainly feel that way.

My stability comes by way of our recently launched performance dashboard. What an absolute gem of a tool! All the things you must consider for your week ahead; Who to coach? Who to have a word in the ear with? What will my boss ask me about this week? Who has excelled? Who deserves a Star award? Who is beating my team? Am I on course for month end? Did I do better last month? Are my team productive? The list goes on and on…… but that is the stability you need as a team leader. You need something that can pull all of this information together and put it in one place. We happen to be lucky that it’s easy to read as well.

As front pages go, the performance dashboard is incomparable. It is like a strategically placed stall as you walk into a supermarket. You know, the one where your partner will stop and say “oh, look they have this on offer” and you realise it’s time to hide your bank card. That’s what the dashboard does, it draws your attention. There’s no array of numbers to meet you as you open it up, it’s just a simple overview of your performance and the cherry on top is the cheeky pie charts that make it even easier to understand.

Then as you drill down into individual performance, you find yourself 4 or 5 clicks away from a comprehensive view of your entire team’s key performance metrics. What could be (and I have experienced this before) a 2 hour Amazonian style trek through reports, becomes a 15 minute short boat trip on calm waters. An absolute joy!

But that’s not all the dashboard has to offer by any means. This constant and reliable piece of insight can suit anyone within our business. Personally, I just love having the peace of mind to know that I can walk in at the start of my week, sit down, sign in, and have my performance delivered to me on a plate. A not so manic Monday, what more could you ask for?