Webhelp Explores The Future Of Bots at VIVA TECHNOLOGY PARIS 2016

PARIS, JUNE 27, 2016 - Webhelp will explore the future of bots and how the world of customer experience will change as a result of their increasing use at this year’s inaugural Viva Technology summit in Paris.

During the course of the three day summit, which runs from Jun 30-Jul 2, Webhelp will be hosting live demonstrations in its customer experience lab and showcasing innovations from some of the exciting start-ups working in different aspects of artificial intelligence and bots.

Visitors to the Webhelp sponsored customer experience lab at Viva Technology will be able to witness bots in action and see how a customer journey can be transformed by the proper integration between bots and humans.

Webhelp’s director of global research and development, Dave Pattman, explained what visitors to the lab will see:

“We have built an interactive demo that will enable visitors to interact with a bot via Facebook Messenger for Business to resolve a delivery query. We also show how bot and human advisors can be integrated seamlessly allowing an escalation from bot to live advisor within the same channel.

“The purpose of having customer experience supported by a combination of artificial intelligence and human interaction is to ensure a better outcome for the customer, not simply to save money.”

In addition to this live demo, which is a prototype that Webhelp is developing in conjunction with recast.ai, Dimelo and Zelros, Webhelp has also invited pioneering startups to the customer experience lab to showcase their developments in this field. These companies were chosen following an open invitation to meet the challenge “March of the Bots – is this the future of customer experience?”

Out of the six challenges launched by Webhelp in the run up to VivaTech, this one attracted the most attention and the most entries.

“Artificial intelligence is attracting huge investment at the moment as people are realising the potential this has for the future of customer experience,” explained Dave Pattman.

“We were extremely excited and impressed with the number and quality of the entries we received and look forward to welcoming these companies to our customer experience lab at VivaTech to show off their innovations to the wider world.

“At Webhelp our goal is to ensure our clients can offer their customers the best possible experience in a profitable way. Technology and the way customers want to interact with companies are changing incredibly quickly and it is vital for companies to keep up with these changes. Customers expect brands to interact with them in the way they feel most comfortable with and Webhelp anticipates and develops solutions around these trends to ensure our clients remain at the leading edge in customer experience. That is why we are excited to explore the new ideas these startups will present and potentially partner with some of them in the future to develop cutting edge new products for the market.”

Dave Pattman is also joining other leading industry figures on a panel at VivaTech to discuss the future of bots and artificial intelligence, ‘March of the Bots . . . how will Bots change the way in which organisations and their customers interact and why doesn’t it necessarily mean the end for live conversations with customer advisors.’

“It is vital to ensure that bots are properly integrated into the customer experience process and that they are continuously refined and improved,” explained Dave. “Bots will be able to handle many of the more ’transactional’ simple queries that currently get directed towards advisors in service centres, significantly reducing operational costs. They will also provide a highly scalable and cost effective way for organisations to engage their customers in a timely and contextual manner, automatically providing useful and relevant information that anticipates customer needs, based upon where they are and what they are doing.

“Bots will not however replace the need for real people. In fact we see a world where live advisors become even more valuable, providing customers with assistance, knowledge and support for the most complex and valuable ‘moments of truth’. We believe these people will become better skilled, more knowledgeable service experts. Artificial intelligence and bots will replace some tasks but will equally create new, more rewarding roles.

“This is not a technology that threatens people, in fact it highlights the situations in which only a real human will do. As we move further down this road, provided the technology is integrated and maintained properly, customers, companies and those working in contact centres stand to enjoy the benefits of artificial intelligence.”

Press information:

Dave Pattman will be available for interview at Viva Technology

 


Webhelp reaches US$1bn turnover with acquisition of leading Scandinavian customer experience company

PARIS, June 23, 2016 – Leading global customer experience company, Webhelp, has today announced the acquisition of top Scandinavian customer relationship management firm, GoExcellent.

GoExcellent has nine centres employing 1,700 people across Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark and specialises in the technology, media and telecoms sectors. The company has enjoyed strong growth in recent years under the leadership of CEO, Terje Andreassen, and recorded a turnover of US$90m in 2015.

GoExcellent_logo

This acquisition is part of the Group's strategy to actively pursue geographical expansion. It will allow Webhelp to offer its customers services in four new languages in the areas of customer experience where Webhelp is already widely recognised.

The deal is expected to be completed in August once all the relevant local antitrust approvals have been obtained. Webhelp will then have 90 centres across 27 countries employing 35,000 people. The turnover of the business in 2016 is expected to be US$1bn.

Olivier Duha and Frédéric Jousset, the two co- founders of Webhelp said:
“We are very excited about this acquisition and are delighted to be able to make this announcement today. GoExcellent is the best customer relationship firm in Scandinavia and the combination of their reputation in this region with our expertise for delivering great customer experience will greatly enhance our ability to offer our clients a seamless, quality experience across a greater range of languages and countries in Europe. This exciting development has been made possible by the support and belief of our new major shareholder, the investment fund, KKR.”

Terje Andreassen, CEO of GoExcellent said: “Through this acquisition GoExcellent will be part of a global company with the industrial strengths to support future development. Omnipresent digitalisation and rapidly changing customer behaviour changes the customer experience and the way we interact. Fuelled with Webhelp’s innovation strength and customer insights GoExcellent’s position in the Nordic region will be further strengthened.”


Webhelp UK Strengthens Banking, Financial Services and Insurance Team

Webhelp, has strengthened its UK banking, financial services and insurance team with the appointment of Jack Springman as propositions director.

Jack joins Webhelp from Sopra Steria where he was head of customer analytics. He has a wealth of experience across the banking, financial services and insurance sector having worked for Fidelity and Guinness Flight (now Investec) and advised financial service companies during his time as a consultant with LEK, Burlington, Inforte, Business & Decision and Sopra Steria.

Jack is looking forward to helping Webhelp develop its offering in this sector: “I am passionate about customer experience and it is fantastic to be working for a company where what you are passionate about is so central to the business. Quality customer service and the serve to sell philosophy – something I have written about a lot - is at the heart of everything Webhelp does and it is very rare to find a company that not only says that, but actually lives and breathes it.

Mike Purvis, Chief Engagement Officer of Webhelp UK, commented:

“We have identified that the banking, financial services and insurance sector, along with retail and travel and tourism, is likely to generate the highest levels of growth in the next three years. We are therefore keen to ensure that our capabilities, and how these are packaged into propositions, are compelling to prospective new clients. I am confident that Jack’s wealth of experience in this sector will help to move Webhelp onto the next level and ensure we continue to record successful growth in the UK.”

From 12 locations across the UK, Webhelp provides multi and omni-channel services to some of the UK’s most progressive brands and businesses and has grown its revenues by 112 per cent in the last four years.

For more information please contact: Heather Astbury, head of PR at Webhelp, on +44(0)7825 593242 heather.astbury@uk.webhelp.com


Aligning Business Transformation To The Adoption of Innovation

There are many reasons why some businesses need transformation. Sometimes the market is moving faster than the normal pace of business evolution, sometimes a new market entrant will shift the entire playing field, and sometimes a sudden jolt is the only way to change an outdated approach to the market.

But transformation is usually difficult to achieve. It can require enormous change programmes that are as much about communication as they are focused on actually changing the business. It can also involve hiring new partners to undertake tasks because the internal team is not ready. However it happens, there is usually a shock to the established way of doing business, which is no surprise as business as usual would not be transformative.

But I saw an interesting strategic approach detailed in a recent Forbes article that takes a different approach.

We all know about how new technologies or innovations are adopted, both in the enterprise and in our daily lives. There are a few innovators who are constantly exploring new ideas. There are early adopters who are using new tools and ideas long before most people. There is the early majority that will use any new technology once it is proven. There is the late majority who require encouragement to make a change, and finally there are the laggards who struggle to adopt any new ideas.

The Forbes article suggests that you build a forward thinking corporate strategy focused on creating a culture that encourages individuals and departments inside your business to focus on innovation and early adoption.

By encouraging this type of culture and behaviour, business transformation can naturally flow, as it will be started internally within teams rather than just requiring a top down edict from the board.

This is a very interesting approach to transformation. Instead of considering the distinct steps to achieve a future state, focus on creating a culture in which new ideas can thrive and you will naturally see transformation.

I believe that this type of thinking can be applied easily to the customer experience strategy of most companies, especially now that more technological understanding and departmental coordination is necessary to deliver what the customer is expecting. We are reaching a situation where some customer expectations are far ahead of what corporate strategy teams are thinking of, yet if teams can be encouraged to think just like the customer then these ideas should bubble up from across the business rather than needing to be defined, mapped, then enforced in a formal transformation programme.

What do you think about this idea of creating transformation by encouraging an innovation culture? Leave a comment below.


Aligning Business Transformation To The Adoption of Innovation

In our latest blog post, David Turner looks at a recent Forbes article that suggests a natural way for business transformation to flow in an organisation is by "...building a forward thinking corporate strategy focused on creating a culture that encourages individuals and departments inside your business to focus on innovation and early adoption"

You can read David's thoughts on the Forbes article by clicking here...


Webhelp UK Boosts Senior Team With Appointment Of Business Development Director

Webhelp, has strengthened its senior UK team with the appointment of Annie Meharg as business development director.

Annie joins Webhelp from the Priory Group, the UK’s largest healthcare company, where, as sales and digital director, she gained a unique experience in embedding a digital first customer experience. Prior to this Annie was at Serco Global Services and has more than 10 years’ experience of co-designing and implementing large-scale global transformational customer experience solutions across telecoms, healthcare, retail and public services. That, combined with her previous experience of working in HR, led her to a passionate belief that having engaged and empowered colleagues results in excellent customer experience – a mantra that is at the heart of Webhelp’s commitment to delivering exceptional results for its clients.

Annie explained why she was keen to move to Webhelp:

“For me, Webhelp is an exciting global company that is at the leading edge of customer interaction and experience. For more than a decade I have been working with companies to implement cutting edge customer management solutions and Webhelp offered me the chance to do that as part of Europe's fastest growing provider.

“Our biggest challenge in customer services right now is the growing shift to digitization and providing one seamless journey across all channels for our brands and clients. Webhelp is truly a transformational business and works with clients on the investment required to create a single customer experience and unified customer journey. I am extremely excited by the opportunity to design and implement cutting edge customer experience solutions that working with Webhelp and our forward thinking clients presents.”

David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK, commented:

“I am absolutely delighted to welcome Annie to the Webhelp UK team and I am thrilled by the opportunities her experience and skills will bring to the business. She has joined the team during an exciting period as we continue to see strong levels of growth from both new and existing clients.

“Annie’s extensive skills and expertise will prove vital as we grow our client portfolio further and develop the strategies and propositions that enable us to deliver a first class customer experience to all our clients.”

From 12 locations across the UK, Webhelp provides multi and omni-channel services to some of the UK’s most progressive brands and businesses and has grown its revenues by 112 per cent in the last four years.

 


Getting Personal With Omnichannel

A recent blog on the Luxury Daily marketing side explored how omnichannel retail is getting personal. This is a theme that I have often explored, but it is something that is commonly overlooked in the focus on managing the multichannel experience.

In fact, I believe that the influence of the omnichannel goes far beyond just allowing companies to personalise their products. Think about the changing nature of the relationship between customers and brands because of the modern mobile communication environment.

To my mind there are three key areas that any executive planning a better customer experience needs to think about:

1) Customer journey; the way that customers find your product has dramatically changed because most customers have access to information anywhere at anytime. Customers can check reviews, talk to friends, publish their own thoughts, and compare prices. In addition, they can talk to brands long before becoming a customer and can maintain that discussion long after a purchase is made. The journey from thinking about a purchase to making it is very different today and continues long after a purchase now.

2) Customer loyalty; improved communication has led to greater brand engagement and therefore the experience throughout the customer journey has a direct impact on loyalty. Customer loyalty is no longer measured in points when the real driver of loyalty is a relationship between the customer and brand – this requires engagement that the customer enjoys.

3) Customer personalisation; insight into customer behaviour and preferences can lead to recommendations and deals that are created just for an individual. This feeds into the improved engagement and relationship and therefore when planned well can drive greater loyalty.

Technology and smart data analysis can help companies to build these improved relationships, but the overall driver for creating a smart omnichannel is to improve the customer journey and build loyalty. Improving your CRM strategy is a great start, but it pays to think about the bigger picture and how a good approach to the omnichannel can help your business grow in several different ways.


Getting Personal With Omnichannel

After reading an article on Luxury Daily which explored how Omnichannel is getting even more personal, Mike Purvis outlines the 3 key areas that any executive planning a better customer experience needs to think about:

  1. Customer journey
  2. Customer loyalty
  3. Customer personalisation

You can read the full post by clicking here...


Nationwide Tops Car Insurance Customer Experience Survey (M&S Ranked Worst)

Some of the country’s biggest names in insurance have been revealed as the winners and losers in our most recent survey.

The survey, which combined face to face and email interviews with 1,000 car insurance customers, was conducted by Bright Young Things in March 2016 and looked at how customers rated their experience in terms of the price of their policy, the services offered and their engagement with the insurer.

Topping the league table were Nationwide, Direct Choice and RAC, with overall scores of 4.2, 4.1 and 4.0 (out of 5.0) respectively.

At the other end of the scale, were Churchill, Legal & General and M&S, who lagged a long way behind with an overall score of just 2.4. Churchill and Legal & General were joint second from bottom with an overall score of 3.1.

The good news for car insurers is that, according to the survey, the majority of respondents were happy with the price they paid for their insurance. That is clearly still a major battle ground for insurance companies, however, it is not the only way for an insurer to compete for the loyalty of their customers.

Chief Customer Solutions Officer at Webhelp, Helen Murray, explains :

“In a number of sectors we are seeing a shift in customer behaviour away from traditional methods of contact, such as the telephone, and onto more digital channels like webchat. What is surprising is that the insurance industry is not adapting to this change in the way that other industries, for example, retail and banking, are. These industries are leading the way in offering customers omnichannel opportunities to connect with the brand and are investing heavily to offer the option to contact them in whatever way the customer feels most comfortable with.

“A company’s engagement score had a marked impact on their overall ranking in our customer experience survey. Churchill is a good example. While they scored well, and much higher than M&S, on price satisfaction (3.5 for Churchill v 2.0 for M&S), they were only marginally ahead of M&S in terms of engagement (2.4 for Churchill v 2.3 for M&S). It was the lack of customer engagement that ensured Churchill came in joint second bottom of our customer experience league table, despite customers being quite satisfied with the price they had paid for their insurance.

“And a good customer experience score isn’t just a vanity exercise. Our survey results indicated a positive correlation between those providers who adopt a multi-channel engagement approach and improved customer advocacy. Only 15% of the providers covered in the survey offered voice, email, twitter and live chat contact channels, but 77% of their customers were likely to recommend their insurer to a friend. The survey average for the same question was only 44%.”


The Evolution of the Digital Customer Experience: Q&A with James Mitton, Customer Service Director at Shop Direct

Following our recent exploration of the evolving role of the customer experience advisor; we spoke with Shop Direct's James Mitton for his views on the part that advisors could now play to enhance the digital customer experience and to find out what other exciting changes may be just around the corner.

Q. Do you believe your customer facing, voice advisors can play a role in enhancing the digital experience of their customers?

A. Yes. Many voice advisors have been able to support our customers successfully through digital channels. As long as they have the aptitude for the relevant digital channels and the appetite to make the customer experience easy and personal, they can be very successful.

Q. As a pure-play retailer, are you able to deduce that your customers are broadly digital-first?

A. Our business is growing, which shows customers have an appetite to shop online. When it comes to service, our research shows that where our customers cannot use self-service, they prefer a digital channel to answer any queries they have.

Q. Will there always be people who just want to talk to pick up the phone? How will you allow for this in the long-term?

A. There are times where written communication is not the best means to solve a complex query. In these instances, customers prefer to pick up the phone. Companies are seeing video chat start to grow and this may at some point in the future replace phone. Right now, very few customers use it, so phone has an important role to play.

Q. What does an excellent customer experience feel like for your digital customers?

A. An excellent customer experience is one where the customer rarely has to contact us, and where we are excellent at spotting potential issues and either preventing them or proactively letting the customer know so they don’t need to go to the effort of contacting us. Our customers say that an excellent digital experience is one where we solve their issue easily whilst giving them a personal service. Primarily this is through webchat, although we can see that customers are increasingly starting to use messenger-style channels to communicate with companies.

Q. The concept of transforming advisors from service provider to digital coach will impact standard contact centre metrics such as AHT, what advice can you give other retailers perhaps considering a move like this?

A. Our primary aim is to help the customer stay online. In an ever complex online world this means helping the customer to navigate through the online store and self-service options so they feel well equipped to use it themselves. To short-cut this coaching will fuel future repeat contacts from customers who don’t want to contact you. A focus on AHT beyond using it as a forecasting tool drives teams to reduce the effectiveness of their coaching time with customers. It’s a false economy.

Q. What is really exciting you about the changes taking place in retail customer experience?

A. The growth of cloud-based technology, many new tech start-ups, and the advancement of automation through AI is giving retailers new tools to have an affordable single view of their customers. They are also giving customers the tailored service that will keep them coming back to shop again and again.

Q. Can you imagine what shopping and customer experience will look and feel like in 5 years time, what do you forecast will be the biggest changes?

A. Shopping and customer experience will be seen as one and the same thing as new technologies change the way customers shop and are served. Advancements in virtual reality, for example, could provide easy routes for customers to shop and be serviced without the need for physical stores.