The Management Team of Webhelp partners with KKR

Webhelp, the global business process management and outsourcing solutions group, announced today that it has entered into an agreement with KKR, a leading global investment firm, as new investor and financial partner. The Webhelp management team will now become controlling shareholders, alongside KKR, while Charterhouse Capital Partners will step back after over four years of successful collaboration with the company. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Webhelp specialises in comprehensive customer experience management services across a range of digital, social, mobile and traditional voice channels to an international client base.

We have experienced great success during our four year run with Charterhouse Capital Partners, and greatly appreciate the support and guidance they have provided to our team”, said Frederic Jousset, co-founder of Webhelp. “We are excited to continue the journey with KKR. We believe that our commitment, ability to execute and proven track record of success, coupled with the experience, enthusiasm and resources that will be contributed by KKR, will enable us to become a world leading independent business process outsourcer”.

Webhelp will continue to be headquartered in Paris, France and led by the current management team. Co-founder Olivier Duha commented: “As part of the deal, the existing management team has taken the opportunity to increase its stake in Webhelp in a clear demonstration of our renewed commitment to, and confidence in the business across all its markets”.

KKR has built a strong track record of successful collaborations with leading companies, and supports its partners by building on its international network and expertise. The investment in Webhelp will be made primarily by the KKR European Fund IV.

Josselin de Roquemaurel and Nicolas Gheysens, Directors of KKR, said: “The partnership with Webhelp follows our strategy of investing behind strong European entrepreneurs and their teams to build global companies and industry leaders. We are delighted to have the opportunity to accompany Webhelp on this journey to become a leading, independent global business process outsourcer.”

 “On behalf of Charterhouse Capital Partners, I would like to thank Olivier, Frederic and the Webhelp management team for their partnership over the past several years”, said Stephan Morgan, Partner at Charterhouse. “During our ownership, Webhelp has improved revenues from €200 million to a forecast €725 million in 2015, the number of contact centres has increased from 12 to more than 80 while the number of employees globally has risen from 7,000 to in excess of 30,000. We believe that the Company is very well-positioned to continue to enhance its leadership position in the field of business process outsourcing”.

The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2016 once required approvals have been obtained.

Advisors to the sellers

  • Deutsche Bank AG  (financial) – Ashurst (legal)

Advisors to Webhelp, co-founders and management team

  • Sycomore Corporate Finance (financial) – Scotto & Associés (legal) – Mayer Brown (tax)


Mapping The Customer Journey

I recently blogged about the importance of mapping the journey your customers take. This is an essential process for improving the customer experience; after all if you are not aware of the most common customer journeys then it is difficult to plan how to improve them.

Stage one, as described previously, is simply to understand your present state, to track and analyse who is getting in touch, how, and when so you have a detailed description of your customer contacts. Stage two involves measuring the customer effort by actually looking at their journey and activity in more detail.

Customer journey mapping is a process whereby all contacts made by a customer across all channels, where data is available, (voice, IVR, webchat, website, retail outlets, etc) are linked together to create a set of interconnected interactions.

This connected series of interactions forms a series of distinct customer journeys that, when combined together, form an activity map. By combining customer contact profiling with these maps and a comprehensive view of a customer’s contacts, the relationship between those contacts and the impact of those contacts can be established. These customer journey maps can be used to understand interactions within their context and root causes of contacts and multiple related contacts can be identified.

With this data it will be possible to identify the root causes of customer contact and where these causes cluster around certain events in the customer lifecycle. These are the focus points that need to be investigated.

It is also possible to use activity measured customer effort scoring in order to further refine analysis. Customer effort score (CES) is a metric favoured in intelligent demand optimisation analytics as it has strong predictive capabilities of future spend and loyalty. It also exposes potentially difficult to see issues in product, policy or service design and implementation that both generate volume and impact customer experience and loyalty.

CES is preferred to Net Promoter Score (NPS) for volume related activities as, firstly, NPS does little to explain contact generation reasons and secondly, whilst NPS may be indicative of an issue, it does not identify the root cause of an issue. CES, allied to customer journey mapping, shows you where your problems are.

Activity measured customer effort scoring, simplistically, involves tracking the volume of a customer’s interactions in their attempts to resolve their query, and associating the effort taken to accomplish that aim. Effort is therefore the amount of contacts by time taken to complete the task with a weighting, calculated by a specially designed algorithm, which reflects the level of effort required in each customer query (in other words, factoring a lower amount of effort for a website contact over a voice contact). This generates an effort score, which can be allied to the customer journey, mapping and identifying the key areas of effort generation in a customer lifecycle.

Whilst this powerful data and analysis will be critical to your intelligent demand strategy, I would advise ensuring that a human perspective be added to your analytical mix. Utilise customer statements and refer to customer complaints. Take some time out and listen to and observe a selection of customer journeys. This will help inform and validate your analysis better than relying only on the numbers.

Undertaking this complete process will not only map why and how customers initiate contact, it allows you to determine the customer effort at each stage. This insight is extremely valuable when planning where to focus effort – you can pick out the root causes of most customer contacts and deal with these before anything else.

I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please leave a comment below or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Webhelp India celebrates first Star Awards

Webhelp India hosted its first annual Star awards at the Palm Town and Country Club on Saturday 21st November, designed to recognise the wealth of talent across its Indian team.

The business’s first internal awards event, which coincided with the team’s first birthday, celebrated the considerable successes of its customer experience professionals with a Bollywood inspired ceremony.

Guests were treated to a drinks reception, live performances and dinner, followed by an awards ceremony to highlight the exceptional work delivered by both teams and individuals.

To mark the occasion a 250,000 IND donation was awarded to The Vidya Integrated Development for Youth and Adults, a charity supported by Webhelp India, which has so far made a difference to more than 220,000 families over the last 30 years.

Webhelp India’s awards ceremony follows on from the success of Webhelp UK’s Star awards, now in its fifth year.

A total of 10 awards were handed out including ‘Shining Star of the Year’ and ‘Role Model of the Year’ – and the prestigious ‘Making a Difference’ award which honours local community charitable work.

Webhelp UK and India Chief Executive, David Turner, has acknowledged a year of hard work and success within the new team.

He considers the awards a vital way to recognise the exceptional level of talent within the company, by providing a spotlight on both teams and individuals.

David said: “Webhelp India has had a fantastic year since opening its doors last September. Our people are at the heart of our business and that extends from our customers across to our people.

“It is important to us that we highlight talent and success within the business – which is why we launched our first Star Awards in India at the end of a very successful year.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our people in Delhi we are continuing to grow as an innovative and forward thinking customer experience provider.”

Key winners from the night include Vikram Arya who took home the ‘Making a Difference’ award for his commitment to working tirelessly and selflessly for chosen charity the Nepal Earthquake fund. The organisation also received a 27,000 INR donation on behalf of Vikram’s win.

Other notable winners include Manveer Singh for ‘Shining Star of the Year’, who was praised for his ambition and commitment to the job. While Amit Dubey took home the award for ‘Role Model of the Year’.

The full list of winners, as follows:

  • ICUR WOW Award – Ajeet Pratap Singh
  • Shining Star of the Year Award – Manveer Singh
  • Role Model of the Year Award – Amit Dubey
  • EE Special Recognition Client Awards – Kashif Ali Sayyed, Abhishek Siddharth and Nitin Sharma
  • Sky Special Recognition Client Awards - Bhupinder Singh, Rita Negi and Rahu Dhimaji
  • The Brightest Star of the Year Award – Shilpi Sharma
  • The WOW Factor Award – Smith Prabhakaran
  • The Making a Difference Award – Vikram Arya
  • The Team of the Year Award – Sky Operations team led by Pankaj Pandey and Sky Resource and Planning Delivery Team led by Chandresh Jain
  • CEO Special Recognition Award – Bharat Sibbal

WEBINAR: Contact Profiling & Customer Journey Mapping

Webhelp head of strategic insight Jim Findlay will present a webinar at 2pm on 26 November which examines the process of customer journey mapping and the benefits that it can bring both to the business and to the customer experience.

Jim will discuss how to

  • use contact profiling to identify the value of your contact types to your customer and business.
  • control and channel your demand
  • apply these techniques to drive improvements in customer experience, tenure and value through efficient, analytical based customer contact management

We will also examine how Webhelp applied mapping and demand control to understand customer behaviour; and delivered real improvements in contact volume, tenure and NPS with a telco client using the following processes:

  • eliminating unnecessary contacts with no value for customers and the business
  • reduce customer re-contacts, transfers, channel thrash and restarts
  • maximise value and customer experience from the contacts you do receive

If you feel that your customers' journeys may be taking place in channels that don’t suit you or your customers, this webinar will help you to identify where issues lie, deliver an improved customer experience and increase your revenue.

Register for the webinar now.

Challenger Utilities Growing Faster Thanks to Customer Service

The ‘Big 6’ companies, who serve around 9 in every 10 homes in Britain, dominate the UK energy market. But several smaller ‘challenger’ utility companies are now challenging this market domination.

The figures are quite startling. At present around 11% of households use a challenger utility rather than a Big 6 provider. This works out to be just over three million homes. One year ago the same figure was just under two million meaning that in the last year around one million customers have switched to one of the challengers.

Although the vast majority of customers remain with the Big 6 the rate of customers switching is accelerating so there is something significant taking place in the energy business.

Price and tariff is obviously a factor. Customers can use comparison websites to find a better deal and easily switch provider, but customer service is often cited as another important reason why customers are moving.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which? said: "The Big Six have repeatedly failed to deliver a decent standard of service so it's no wonder customers are starting to leave them in droves.”

There are now 31 energy providers in the UK compared to 6 back in 2010 meaning that customers can explore prices available in the market and the experience of other customers with the challenger utilities.

However, price is just a hygiene factor. Customers will not move to a company that is more expensive unless there is some other significant difference about the service on offer.

If the challengers can match the big players on price then they have a significant opportunity to use an improved customer experience to target all those customers that have not switched from the Big 6. The opportunity is out there and with 25 challengers competing for the same business the market is getting crowded, but it is also possible to develop an intelligent approach to prospective customers too. The tools are out there for a committed challenger to scale their business significantly.

What do you think of customer experience as a key differentiator in the energy market? Can the challengers really use it as a tool for building their business? Leave a comment here or send me a message via my LinkedIn profile.


Photo courtesy Brenda Clarke on Flickr.

Customers Want A Relationship With Your Brand – Not A Discount Voucher

The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) published earlier this month shows that after declining for the past couple of years, customer satisfaction has now plateaued. The research shows a very strong link correlation between customer satisfaction, growth, and market share.

Customers that score a company 9 or 10 (out of 10) for satisfaction are much more likely to trust, recommend, and remain loyal compared to companies that score 8. The insight from this research is extremely important for any manager responsible for customer service. It demonstrates a proven link between caring for your customers and greater business success.

To my mind what this really demonstrates is that we are entering a relationship economy where loyalty is only created through the interactions a customer has with a brand – not through the use of a loyalty club and some discount vouchers.

An interesting article published recently in Internet Retailing explores this change in how customer loyalty is functioning and contrasts how some companies are still clinging to the loyalty card as others are building their brand into the lifestyle of the customer.

With a brand like Apple it is easy to see why customers remain loyal. The products are always best in class, innovative, and retain a certain level of cool when compared to rivals. They might be expensive, but customers keep returning to buy more.

But with a supermarket things are different. For the past couple of decades supermarkets have used loyalty schemes that analyse your shop and issue vouchers based on the type of products you purchase. Twenty years ago this was astonishing, but the target now needs to be managed in two distinct ways:

  • Rewards for any loyalty programme now need to be addressed to the individual, not just a broad segmented approach based on demographics, such as ‘this customer is a young mother’ … there is now a target audience of one.
  • Individuals engage and expect interaction far more than ever before. It’s common to see people tweet questions about food to supermarkets. Brands need to engage and interact with their customers. Customers expect to have a relationship with the brands that want their cash.

The UKCSI data shows exactly how important it is to get a great loyalty strategy in place. Getting this right is not just about improving profits, those who fail may not have a business in future. The technology and systems are available and understood now, allowing a much deeper insight into customer behaviour and needs.

It just requires a different approach. Loyalty today is not about cards, stamps, and a free cup of coffee now and then. Loyalty today is about knowing your customer better than ever before and building a relationship together.

How do you think loyalty programmes and systems are changing? Leave a comment here or send me a message via my LinkedIn profile.


Image via Vic on Flickr.

Forrester Says European Customers Are Far From Satisfied

In her recent blog post Helen Murray discusses new research from the industry analyst firm Forrester that suggested that customer experience is the number one strategic priority for business leaders in over 70% of European businesses. However, none of them are succeeding in delivering an experience that the customer expects.

Read more here.

Customers Are Demanding A Different Service Experience

The first statistic I saw from a new report into US and UK contact centres by the research company ContactBabel is staggering.

Only 12% of the public actually want to use the phone as their primary channel for customer service.

This is striking because in terms of volume, the voice-based contact centre is still extremely important.

But the underlying message is clear: customers expect flexibility and do not want to be marshalled into a single channel.

This implies that multichannel service options are important to offer, but as the report highlights, there are several ways of defining how a contact centre manages multiple channels:

  • Multichannel: offering a variety of different communication channels to customers.
  • Multimodal: offering multiple channels that can be used simultaneously for the same query.
  • Omnichannel: offering multimodal service, but additionally with a complete history of interactions offering a single view of all interactions with this customer.

Naturally, if contact centre managers are asked to self-assess where they are in this evolution they tend to inflate their capabilities. Those supporting multiple channels will often say that they are omnichannel-enabled even if they don’t really manage to connect everything together.

But there is some agreement on the main obstacles to achieving success and achieving full omnichannel support from the support team. The top three barriers to supporting the omnichannel are:

  1. No technology in place to enable this level of connected support – impossible to get a single view of the customer.
  2. Business itself is siloed and does not share information.
  3. No budget available for change.

Clearly if there is no budget available then the executive team are not taking the omnichannel seriously enough and the lack of technology is directly linked to providing budget. Ensuring data can flow within the organisation is more strategic and may involve changing corporate structures. If the business sits in silos and is not used to sharing information then change will involve more than just rolling out some new software.

But the first statistic I mentioned from the ContactBabel research shows why this is essential. If 9 out of 10 consumers now expect choice in the channels they use then this is now a key competitive differentiator. If your competition offers flexible support across multiple channels then they can probably charge more than you and still get more sales volume and customer loyalty. This is what that 12% figure really means.

What do you think of the ContactBabel observation that customers do not want to be forced into a voice call as their only choice of support channel? Leave a comment here or get in touch directly via my LinkedIn profile.


Customer Mapping And Understanding Your Customer Contacts

Anyone who is involved in managing a customer service function knows that customer journey mapping is an essential part of strategic planning. It is impossible to manage customer demand successfully without a detailed understanding of how customers are contacting you and why.

With this knowledge, resource can be planned so demand can be managed effectively. This type of planning is even more critical in an omnichannel environment because the number of digital touchpoints increases and there may be a considerable amount of channel hopping, or even customers simultaneously using more than one channel.

For example, if a customer is on webchat and the telephone simultaneously then has that just doubled your support requirement or can your system recognise that a single agent could handle this customer?

I’m going to write about how to map the customer journey from the perspective of the business rather than just the customer’s point of view at a later date, but I want to focus initially here on how you can understand the present contacts. How do you measure the present state before making changes?

First, you need good data. You need to measure when and how customers are getting in touch and why so a pivotal data set can be created and used for analysis. It is also possible to incorporate information from speech and textual analytics to capture context in addition to just the time and frequency of contact.

Once you create a detailed record of the present state of customer interactions you can then use this as a base set of data – other data can be applied to this. These other data sets might include such additional information as customer surveys (NPS, resolution, customer satisfaction, customer effort), contact data, including interaction times from all channels, (IVR, voice, web, webchat, digital), sales data and customer demographic/value information.

Any gaps in the data then need to be identified and filled if relevant to the final analysis. This will create a comprehensive and unified database that will feed into an analytical system.

Once this holistic data picture is completed, numerous analytical techniques are deployed with contact profiling being an essential early step. This simplified table, focused on the voice channel, gives a high level idea of some of the contact profiling that may be generated.

This table has a deliberately simplified view: in a live environment the interaction types would be significantly greater in volume, with sub categorisation and the metrics profiled would be more varied, in addition to all these queries being spread over multiple channels.

With this information from the analysis process, it is quickly possible to identify the mix of your customer contact types, establish what your customers were trying to do when they contacted you, and begin to categorise and identify your areas of volume generation.

Whilst contact profiling of this nature is critical to understanding your customer’s interactions with your business, it is only part of the picture. Individual customer contacts do not exist in isolation and should be viewed as individual manifestations of a customer journey through their lifecycle with your business.

It is critical to understand the root causes within a customer’s journey of contacts, allowing focus to be applied to areas generating high volumes of contacts and related re-contacts. In order to do this, customer journey mapping should be undertaken in tandem with activity measured customer effort score analysis.

But after measuring activity, it is then essential to measure customer effort. I’ll talk about this in my next blog about understanding customer contact. In the meantime, if you have any comments on understanding the present state then please leave a comment here or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Webinar: Intelligent outbound – mastering respectful contact

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 latest webinar Webhelp chief engagement officer, Mike Purvis, discusses these issues along with the shape of next generation Intelligent Outbound contact.

Follow this link and find out more