UK Retail Leads in Omnichannel Adoption

Consulting firm Kurt Salmon recently published their 2015 analysis of the retail omnichannel market in Europe. Being British and focused on omnichannel developments in the UK the most striking results that leap out from the research is that British retailers are far ahead of their European counterparts.

The research focused on four different areas; mobile, online, social, and cross channel. It stated that every company surveyed could improve their cross channel offering, but in the other areas there are clear winners.

The leading companies were Topshop, Wallis, and Miss Selfridge, followed by department stores John Lewis and House of Fraser.  A particularly good result was for the Arcadia group, with Topshop the top brand overall across all metrics.

An interesting observation from the survey was that one area where British stores appear far behind continental Europe is in offering stock checking options on the website. Having the ability to go online and check that an item of stock can be found in a store is a strong driver for customers to visit a store. If they need an item quickly it helps immensely to check stock levels or even having the ability to check stock and then reserve the items.

This is a great example of how the online store can be married to the physical store in a way that makes both online and offline work together. Retailers looking to drive cross channel engagement need to consider exactly how to enable customers to use the right channel at the right time, without an enormous cost of switching.

Given that the weakest area for all companies in this research was support for customers across multiple channels there is still plenty of work to be done. Perhaps by next year, some of these companies can have a much stronger omnichannel offer for their customers.

What do you think about the state of omnichannel adoption in retailers across Europe? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn profile.

 

Image via melenita2012


How Outbound Calls can Improve Customer Loyalty

In a recent blog I explored a new approach to outbound calls. By using an intelligence-led analytic approach to outbound calls it should be possible to move the goalposts on what these calls can achieve. Instead of outbound being a sales strategy with a very low likelihood of success, the success rate can be dramatically improved.

And something else happens – customers appreciate the calls.

If you think this sounds unlikely then consider how the customer relationship to brands has altered in just the past few years. With constant access to information thanks to the mobile Internet and social networks, the way people talk to each other has changed. This has also affected how they communicate with brands.

Customer to brand communication used to be strictly post-sale, either a complaint or a comment. That was it. The customer service team was handling questions, queries, and complaints almost exclusively from customers who had already made a purchase.

Now think about how customers behave today. They use price comparison tools. They use review websites to check what other customers think. They ask brands questions about their products online – directly or indirectly – long before a purchase has taken place. In the case of services like hotels, airlines, or retailers, the customer can be asking the brand questions as they are consuming the services of that company.

The relationship continues after a purchase. Customer service today is much more about building a relationship with customers that begins long before they make a purchase and continues long after their first purchase. This ongoing customer engagement builds loyalty to a brand in a way that cards with points struggle to achieve. People don’t generally have an emotional attachment to a loyalty card, yet a brand that talks to them regularly is different.

So if you have a loyalty strategy that involves client engagement, using intelligent, focused, outbound calls can be just one additional part of this strategy. Customers that engage regularly, those that ask questions about products, can be segmented and eventually called to develop that relationship.

If a customer has a relationship with the brand already and the call is related to a product they are interested in then this approach will help to support the interactions on other channels, and to the customer it can feel even more personal that the company called with a special deal designed just for them.

Outbound calls combined with knowledge of what your customers like and when they are happy to be contacted can be an extremely powerful way to engage, building on all those Twitter and Facebook replies, but this time with a specific offer that is likely to lead to an additional purchase.

 What do you think about using outbound calls as part of a wider strategy to encouraging customer loyalty? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn profile.

 Want to learn more? 


Banks Are Not Just Being Challenged; They All Need to Change to Survive

I’ve written previously about the wave of “challenger banks” sweeping the UK banking and financial services market. There is a great opportunity for new brands to focus on improving service to the customer and taking market share from the big established brands.

But change in this market is coming from beyond new brands on the High Street alone. Digital banking is changing the banking sector in several ways:

Payment by phone

Services such as Apple Pay are now commonly accepted and stores with low-value items – like coffee chains – are experimenting with their own phone payment systems that connect into the loyalty programme. No more lost cardboard loyalty cards!

Niche services by app

Individual apps for individual banking services are here. Want to transfer money overseas? There will be an app offering this service. Want a loan to buy a car? Why not use a peer-to-peer app? Niche players are using the app store to offer almost every kind of possible banking service.

Location based services

Banks are already using location-based advertising across social networks so it’s only a small leap of the imagination to assume that they will use the same customer insight to directly offer their own services soon. For example, sending an offer on a loan if they can see you are spending more than usual in a month and are currently out shopping again.

Customer analytics

The data available on customers is now so complete that behaviour can be predicted before it takes place. For example, customers that will have trouble maintaining payments on their Visa card can be contacted before the problems become critical.

Omnichannel banking

It goes without saying that customers today expect the service at their bank to blend seamlessly between the branch and their online experience. But think about the reality – are most banks anywhere close to what customers expect? If you check out a new mortgage online and walk into a branch the next day, how would it affect your impression of the bank if the in-branch team were already aware of the type of mortgage you are interested in without you needing to explain all over again?

I think there is a potential existential crisis for the entire banking industry if they do not pay enough attention to these changes. Niche players offering individual financial services via apps can usually undercut the major banks because they do not have the overheads of a national branch network, so in theory these niche service providers should be able to win an enormous amount of business from the traditional banks.

Customer loyalty and inertia will prevent much of the potential business loss, but if customers are increasingly dissatisfied with the service they receive then they will look for an alternative. Why give customers a reason to go looking for a new service provider?

I think that a focus on how to deliver an omnichannel approach to customer service is now critical for all the major banks – as a way of retaining existing customers and for attracting new customers with a combination of their established brand and great service.

What do you think about the changing banking sector? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn profile.

 

Image courtesy Ken Teegardin.


Close By and Yet So Far Away

On my travels, Germany is becoming one of my most frequented destinations, the Ruhrgebiet region in particular over the past 12 months.  Although it is only 90 minutes from my home in the Netherlands, it feels like a completely new world to me. I would travel the 90 minutes for the coffee alone.

I make the journey  on the  Autobahn and as I cut through the  countryside, I consider the German outsource market.

Germany is a powerhouse in the European field of customer care. As the largest market in Europe it holds a strong attraction to all international players in the BPO sector. It is also a very tough market to break into as several players have found when entering this market. In the past 3 – 4 years we tested the waters several times, but only this year did we decide the time was right to enter the market.

The well-known Germanic direct style is a breath of fresh air to me and when we combine this with tested and tried production skills; our venture into Germany starts to feel really exciting.

The main hurdle faced in Germany is the tough, price-based competition. The German market has evolved in a way which is very different to other European BPO destinations such as France and the UK. The difference is characterised by the lack of high volume offshore capabilities in addition to weak nearshore options in Eastern Europe due to the limited volume of German speakers and the reluctance of German consumers to accept off and nearshore provision. The result is a strong focus on efficiency and low costs throughout the German ecosystem of domestic suppliers. Relatively low margins, compared to other markets, has increased the pressure on salaries and seen a reduction in investment in new thinking and technology.

There would be little value in Webhelp entering the market on the same basis; instead we are leading with an investment in people. Our starting point is to show our people respect in what can be a tough job.  We pay above market rates for advisors, have attractive and tailored benefit packages and give them an engaging place to work in a bid to create a team that is up to the tough challenges that we face in Germany. In so doing we have created a highly motivated employee, which in turn has given  us the opportunity to work with our clients on more result- oriented commercial models clients. This is allowing us to make the head room for investments in transformation and therefore we can add value beyond just the provision of services and drive customer experience improvements.

Our new facility in Dortmund embodies our pioneering spirit and brings to life our intention to be a little bit different. We hope this will be our  ticket to success.

I love taking these rides, I enjoy my time to think about what’s next and perhaps more so, I look forward to finding a new ”Kaffee” every time I return.

These views are my own and do not reflect that of The Webhelp Group.


Webhelp UK Celebrate Success with Team Tribute Day

Webhelp UK has furthered its commitment to people development by hosting a company-wide tribute day across its 12 UK sites on Friday 9 October.

Throughout the day, employees across the country were invited to the fun-filled event where whole teams were praised by senior management for their ongoing dedication and commitment to delivering exceptional customer experience for a range of clients.

Entertainment and refreshments were provided and thank you cards were gifted to those excelling in their role.

David Turner, CEO at Webhelp UK, has acknowledged another exceptional year for the business and attributes this success to the dedication of the teams across its UK network.

He also believes it is vitally important to recognise hard work and provide a spotlight to company talent.

David said: “People are at the heart of what we do, so much so that we feel it is important to take the time to recognise those who are instrumental in pushing the business forward and to encourage them to keep on delivering such a high calibre of work.

“Advisor Day which celebrates the hard of our people world-wide is a great opportunity for those at Webhelp UK to take the time to meet up in a relaxed atmosphere and share their successes. Thanks to the ongoing commitment from our advisors we have been able to achieve sustained growth.

Webhelp UK is part of the Webhelp Group; a global business process outsourcing provider that employs 30,000 people in 81 locations worldwide.

From 12 locations across the UK, with its operational headquarters in Falkirk, Webhelp UK has grown its revenues by 112% in the last four years and operates six Scottish customer experience centres in Falkirk, Glasgow, Dunoon, Rothesay, Greenock and Kilmarnock.


Derby Deputy Mayor and Mayoress Attend Webhelp Team Tribute Day

Webhelp UK welcomed Deputy Mayor, Councillor Mark Tittley (pictured with Director of Service Clive Martison), and Deputy Mayoress, Mrs Jill Tittley, to its Derby site on Friday 9 October for ‘Advisor Day’, which seeks to recognise and celebrate the commitment of its global team of customer experience professionals.

Throughout the day, employees at Pride Park were invited to the fun-filled event where the team as a whole were praised by senior management for their ongoing dedication and commitment to delivering exceptional customer experience for a range of clients, including EE and Sky.

Councillor Mark Tittley and his wife were on hand to meet and greet all the team members and to show their support for the thriving business which employs so many local people. Entertainment and refreshments were provided and thank you cards were gifted to those excelling in their role.

David Turner, CEO at Webhelp UK, has acknowledged another exceptional year for Derby and attributes this success to the dedication of the whole team.

He also believes it is vitally important to recognise hard work and provide a spotlight to company talent – and was thankful for Mr and Mrs Tittley’s attendance.

David said: “People are at the heart of what we do, so much so that we feel it is important to take the time to recognise those who are instrumental in pushing the business forward and to encourage them to keep on delivering such a high calibre of work.

“Advisor Day which celebrates the hard work of our people worldwide is a great opportunity for those at Derby to take the time to meet up in a relaxed atmosphere and share their successes. Thanks to the ongoing commitment from our advisors we have been able to achieve sustained growth.

“We’d also like to thank Councillor Mark Tittley and Mrs Jill Tittley for taking time out of their busy schedules to meet with our team members and spend the afternoon with us at the Derby site.”

 


Banks Are Not Just Being Challenged; They All Need to Change to Survive

In his latest blog post Webhelp CEO David Turner explains the great opportunity for brands in the banking sector to focus on improving service to the customer and taking market share from the big established brands.

Find out why change in this market is coming from beyond new brands on the High Street alone. Digital banking is changing the banking sector in several ways.

Read Banks Are Not Just Being Challenged; They All Need to Change to Survive

 


Webinar: Intelligent outbound calling is the future

Approaching prospects in a manner that they are comfortable with and receptive to isn't a new concept in face-to-face sales. So why has outbound sales struggled to follow suit?

If a brand can use their knowledge of a customer to make contact and offer a product or service that is perceived as useful, then this type of customer experience can create a positive impact. Where a company is seen to offer value, rather than crudely attempting to sell more products, again this can build a relationship, rather than break it down – a common consequence of a traditional outbound cold call.

In our next webinar to be held on the 29th October, Webhelp solutions consultant, Paul Cox, will discuss the shape of next generation Intelligent Outbound contact, covering:

  • The pitfalls to learn from
  • The role of data and analytics
  • Enabling sales through technology
  • People
  • Environment design

He’ll bring the topic to life using a recent case study. If outbound selling is on your agenda, register now.

Sign up for the webinar here.

Want to read more? 

Outbound cold calling is becoming obsolete, by Helen Murray, Chief Customer Solutions Officer.

Why cold calling ought to be shown the door, for good, by Dave Pattman, Customer Solutions Director.


Attitudes to the Omnichannel Vary Across Europe

You might assume that retailers across the world are equally enthused about the opportunities offered by the omnichannel, but there are great variations in how retailers are building a strategy according to a new report by the European research firm PAC.

PAC interviewed over 200 business and IT leaders at retailers across Europe. They found that although three quarters of these managers say that the physical store will remain important, the majority say that mobile and online interactions with customers will become much more important in future.

The difference in attitude towards the omnichannel is starkly highlighted by some of the figures from the study:

  • 85% of German retailers expect the store to become more strategically important vs. 62% in the UK;
  • 60% of retailers in the Netherlands already use their physical stores as a collection point for online orders vs. only 30% in France and Germany;
  • 70% of UK retailers track increases in Net Promoter Score as a key measure of the success of their omnichannel strategy, vs. 56% in Italy.

Over 80% of retailers in this study said that the development of a long-term channel strategy was a major or clear challenge, indicating that it is an issue for the top executives and not just a technology issue. However, around 50% of all companies in the study are planning a significant IT investment within the next two years. Working with the omnichannel is seen as a strategic issue for the entire company, but it requires technology solutions to be addressed.

Despite the differences in present-day adoption, I think that it is encouraging to see these final statistics. They indicate that retailers see the omnichannel not only as an issue that requires technical solutions, but also as a strategic imperative for the entire organisation.

What do you think about the deployment of omnichannel solutions? Does your organisation consider it to be a technology issue or a channel strategy that affects the entire business?

Let me know in the comments below, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

 

 


20 Per Cent Energy Drop for Webhelp after Consumption Overhaul

Webhelp has announced a 20 per cent drop in its energy consumption over the last four years.

Average monthly usage had reduced by 190,000kwh between January 2012 and June 2015, equating to a saving of 101 tonnes of carbon each month.

The announced figures come from an audit conducted across eight of Webhelp’s sites. The business now plans to roll this out across the rest of its estate.

Webhelp has committed to reducing its consumption by employing a range of energy saving tactics such as installing building management systems, applying enhanced technology to efficiently control motor speed in air conditioners and installing PC power management across a majority of its sites.

David Turner, CEO at Webhelp UK, commented on the company’s drive towards energy efficiency, and also stated the importance of providing appropriate energy-saving training to its staff.

He said: “We have committed to reducing our energy consumption through a number of ways and we are extremely proud of the results we have achieved over the last four years.

“By installing our intelligent building management systems we have given ourselves real time control over heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. Additionally, installing energy-saving technology to our air conditioners has reduced our fan speeds by 20 per cent delivering a 50 per cent energy saving.

“Employee engagement on energy management is another tactic which has helped control consumption, and we believe it is vital we provide our people with the appropriate tools and know-how to control and reduce their own energy usage.

“This significant decrease emphasises our commitment to energy saving - and we will strive to continue to become leaders in managing energy consumption and better our existing performance.”

Webhelp UK is part of the Webhelp Group; a global business process outsourcing provider that employs 30,000 people in 79 locations worldwide.

With 12 locations across the UK, which has its operational headquarters in Falkirk, Webhelp UK has grown its revenues by 112 per cent in the last four years.

CASE STUDY

In June 2013, Webhelp UK appointed Richard Carr as Environmental Co-Ordinator. On his appointment Richard began working with Resource Efficient Scotland, specifically to identify potential efficiency savings across each of its six Scottish customer experience sites.

After the completion of two site audits in Kilmarnock and Falkirk, the business has reported annual savings of £26,163 with a further £15,000 to be realised in future projects.

As well as looking to have further sites audited, Webhelp UK is also putting several members of staff through Resource Efficient Scotland’s Green Champions training course, enabling them to up-skill and improve their in-house knowledge.