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Webhelp timmert flink aan de weg. Onder de Franse vlag breidt Webhelp haar expertise in volle vaart uit. Zo nam de Business Process Outsourcer onlangs nog het Franse social media bureau Netino over en verwacht het ook in Nederland het komende jaar nieuwe overnames te doen. Aan het woord Thomas Blankvoort, Director Business Development & MarCom bij Webhelp en General Manager van dochteronderneming Xtrasource, over de ontwikkelingen in de markt en hoe Webhelp hierop inspeelt.

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Are UK Retailers Ready to Get Personal?

Personalisation has been a much talked about theme in retail in recent years and continues to be the stated aim of marketing and ecommerce professionals. But huge volumes of customer data and a lack of expertise in insight and analytics is leading many retailers to fall at the first hurdle, warns leading global customer experience outsourcer, Webhelp.

Personalisation is so much more than simply addressing your customer by name in marketing materials, and yet for 61% of companies covered by a 2015 Experian report, this sort of limited data is all they use. Perhaps even more surprising is that the report revealed 30% of companies are not attempting to personalise at all.

This leaves only 9% of companies at the other end of the scale and personalising using insights such as attitudinal data.

We operate in a world where a surplus of choice, coupled with increasing ease of comparing offers, means customer loyalty is more difficult than ever to generate. And that is a growing problem. According to Daymon: The Next World: How Millennials Will Shape Retail, published in June this year, only 29% of millennials say they usually buy the same brand, while 26% are likely to buy “whatever brand they feel like at the time”. When you put that together with the fact that there are 13.8m millennials in the UK according to a report published in The Guardian in March this year, this presents a huge opportunity to increase customer loyalty that brands are missing out on.

So why are so few companies getting involved in personalisation to any real degree?

There have been concerns around personalisation and the use of data being too intrusive. However, recent studies show that 87% of customers are happy for brands to use their data to personalise their experience, so long as it makes things more relevant to them or if it’s from a company they have recently purchased from. If brands stay on the cool rather than creepy side of personalisation they have nothing to fear on this score.

Perhaps the real barrier for companies is the staggering amount of data and seemingly endless choices of what to do with it. A report published in July 2016 by Daisy Corporate Services stated that 48% of retailers find volumes of customer data overwhelming when it comes to analytics enhancements.

Shop Direct is a leading online retailer that has been focusing very heavily on personalisation in recent years. Webhelp has been working with them since August 2015 and has used customer behaviour analysis, contact dis-positioning and sentiment analysis to generate insight that has helped us to meet our agreed increased self-service, reduced voice contact and reduced cost targets ahead of schedule.

Personalisation is one area which has contributed to Shop Direct returning a massive increase in profit this year of more than 40%. It remains a key focus for Shop Direct and one they are committing ever more resources to.

Webhelp is investing a seven figure sum annually to keep abreast of the new technology and opportunities that exist for brands through personalisation. Potentially the most exciting opportunity in the near future is the use of artificial intelligence. Webhelp is focussing significant resources in this area to ensure we can offer our clients an integrated human and bot solution that will deliver the benefits of personalisation without the drawbacks of unmonitored bot engagement.

48% of retailers are looking to invest in data and analytics over the next 12 months, according to Daisy Corporate Services, but how many of them will get it right and deliver real value to their customers and their bottom line. Using data and insight to work out what customers want will ensure the ability to carefully tread the thin line between cool and creepy successfully. Analytics and a clear focus on outcomes will shine a light through the forest of information and allow the ability to prioritise where to focus resources.

Personalisation is a key battleground in the war for customer loyalty. It is one which many retailers are talking about but very few are using to its full potential. Retailers may talk about personalisation but how many are really ready to get personal?

 

 


Personalisation Is Changing the Retail Customer Journey

retail customer journey

Personalisation can sound like a buzzword. It’s one of those customer experience trends that retailers talk about and yet there is very little definition around what it really means. I think that it’s wrong to dismiss this as a passing fad; rather it’s an idea that has been waiting a long time for many factors to all work together. That’s now starting to happen, as demonstrated by the changes to the customer journey in recent years.

We often forget how long personalisation has been around. I have been using Amazon to buy books since the 1990s. I might even have a twentieth anniversary of using online shopping on Amazon coming up soon, if I can go far enough back on my order history to check on the first ever item ordered.

Amazon first used personalisation to influence the customer journey a long time ago. It always recommended other items once you placed an order, or even just when browsing a product page. We got used to seeing the words “if you liked that, then you may also like this...” without thinking about the processing power that went into such recommendations. I know that I have ordered because of the recommendations and been grateful that they were so accurate, yet these are really just personalised recommendations prepared especially for me.

As Retail Week recently highlighted, many retailers are now allowing customers to directly influence the personalisation systems, weighting the algorithm to be even better than the store can make it through analytics. Waitrose and Boots are good examples. I can imagine that if I once bought a steak for a friend, but I’m vegetarian, then I would not want my supermarket to keep on sending offers from the meat counter - these manual overrides allow customers to tweak what the store knows about you.

Beacons are particularly interesting at present, and retailers such as House of Fraser and Asda are extensively testing this technology. If the customer stays in one place for a period of longer than 10 seconds and is close to a beacon then the system can push a time-limited offer to that customer, related to products that are within sight of the beacon. So if you stop to take a look at a product and that pause causes the store to send an offer, it may be enough to encourage the customer to make a purchasing decision.

But personalisation is changing the customer journey online as well as in store:

  • Front of shop: the landing page and initial items presented can be tailored to match what you are likely to be interested in.
  • Recommendations: with knowledge of all your past transactions and what you spend most time looking at, recommendations can be highly personalised.
  • Discounts: using the same data as the recommendations analytics, but also paying close attention to the time spent browsing different items, discounts can be used to tempt customers into buying items they are thinking about, but not sure of.

With apps increasingly being used by customers to enhance their in-store experience, it is likely that many of these techniques will soon apply across both areas of retail, creating a true omni-channel experience.

What’s your own experience of how retailers are using personalisation and changing the customer journey? Leave a comment below or get in touch on LinkedIn and let me know.


Can Large Companies Really Offer Personalised Service?

personalised service retail

Offering a personalised service in a small business is relatively easy. I have a local cafe close to where I live and I’m always pleased that they serve me coffee exactly the way I like it even before I ask for one. They know my regular order and just serve it as soon as I walk in – perhaps one day I would like a change, but it’s never been a problem yet!

But how can companies scale up this kind of personalised service? Knowing exactly what a customer usually likes or dislikes and being able to offer products that you know the customer will want; it’s one thing in a small cafe, but what if we apply the same need for personalisation to a national retailer?

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently published research indicating that companies that working on personalising their marketing outreach to customers achieve a return on investment (ROI) of five to eight times the same spend that is not focused on personalising the service. That’s an enormous difference for one single change in focus.

The big difference today is that it is finally becoming possible to really interact with customers in a way that is more personal. Previous efforts really just involved large-scale surveys, analysis of the results, attempts at implementing the feedback and then a repeat of the same processes. Today the possibilities to deliver reliable personalisation are far more detailed. Look at the “three Ds” outlined by HBR:

  • Data Discovery: a wide range of data can be drawn on to define the profile, interests, and needs of individual customers, allowing far more insight into when and what individual customers might purchase.
  • Decision-making: standard data models used to pump out discounts and offers based on products or regions - now more complex decision-making tools can drill down and create offers that are attractive to individual customers, based on their profile and history.
  • Distribution of content: content can now be distributed to customers using demographic and geographic filters easily. It’s even possible to filter specific “types” of customer who are presently located in, or close to, a retail store.

There is a technological revolution taking place that is allowing large companies to mine data and make decisions on what to recommend to customers, or which discounts to offer – and all of this decision-making can be focused on the preferences of the individual. Never before has this level of personalisation been possible. We are in an environment where huge national retailers might soon be able to offer a more personalised service than your local cafe. Who would have thought that this could be possible?

What do you think of the HBR three Ds? Leave a comment here if you have any ideas, or get in touch on LinkedIn.


Webhelp Signs Partnership with Recast.AI to Develop Chatbot and Artificial Intelligence Offering

Leading global business process and customer experience outsourcer Webhelp, has announced a new partnership with Recast.AI that will allow the customer experience outsourcer to develop its ChatBot and artificial intelligence capabilities.

 

The partnership will bring together two leaders in their respective fields to ensure the power of artificial intelligence is harnessed and exploited to drive forward the customer experience industry.

 

The partnership between Webhelp and Recast.AI will make customisable ChatBots and AI powered customer experience solutions more widely accessible. This will enable Webhelp’s clients to easily implement highly personalised ChatBots, software that simulates human-like conversations through either voice or text based interactions. ChatBots can be deployed into multiple channels such as Messenger, SMS, In-App, Skype, Slack to improve convenience and customer experience.

 

Webhelp’s existing ChatBot offering will be accelerated as a result of this partnership.

 

Dave Pattman, global director of R&D at Webhelp, said: “Webhelp’s position as a technology enabler is incredibly important to us. The time and resources we are investing in the development of new technologies, such as chatbots, as well as establishing relationships with best-in-breed technology startups is what sets us apart from other customer experience and business process outsourcers.”

 

“We have been very impressed by the product Recast.AI has created, which they demonstrated when they won our ‘March of the Bots’ challenge at Viva Technology in the summer. We are excited about the prospect of working with them to disrupt customer experience expectations with the expert application of artificial intelligence technologies.”

 

Patrick Joubert, co-founder and CEO of Recast.AI, said: “Webhelp is a leading global customer experience outsourcing business and has a huge experience as well as a fantastic reputation in this sector. We are delighted to work alongside Webhelp and add our expertise in artificial intelligence to expand their already impressive offer to conversational interfaces. I am confident that joining the relevant expertise and resources of both companies will lead to the development of new initiatives that will drive forward the potential of ChatBots and artificial intelligence in customer experience.”

 


Webhelp Wins Gold and Silver at UK Digital Experience Awards

Leading global customer experience and business process outsourcing company, Webhelp, is celebrating more awards success having won both gold and silver at this year’s Digital Experience awards.

 

Webhelp secured the awards for its transformational partnership with client Shop Direct, winning Gold in the B2C services category and Silver for Digital CX Innovation (The next level).

 

The UK Digital Experience Awards are fast becoming one of the most important events in the calendar for digital and customer experience professionals. The winners were chosen by a panel of independent business leaders and were announced at a ceremony, attended by more than 100 companies across a variety of different sectors, at the Grand Connaught Rooms, London on Friday the 2nd December.

 

David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won these awards for our work with Shop Direct. It’s been a fantastic year of awards successes for us and it’s great to once again see all of our efforts recognised in this way.  Digital customer experience innovation sits at the very heart of our partnership with Shop Direct and both teams have worked tirelessly to drive transformational change and deliver significant customer experience improvements so early in our partnership.  Our team have shown great commitment and dedication to the work that they do and these achievements are ones that we can all be very proud of.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Privacy and Personalisation: What Do Customers Expect?

Mobile-Shopping

Late last year the industry analyst firm Gartner published a report titled “The Customer Experience in 2020”. I have blogged in the past about this report because I really liked the way that Gartner described the changing nature of the customer service team, and how marketing and other customer-facing teams will need to work in partnership with customer services, creating a unified team focused on the customer relationship. But there was an important message in this paper about personalisation too.

Gartner had the foresight to suggest that by 2020 customers will expect a much more personal service than they receive from brands today. In particular this is because customers know how much data is collected on their purchases and preferences. Customers today are well-informed - they know exactly what brands can do with this data and so they expect better choices designed for them as individuals.

In the report Gene Alvarez, managing vice president at Gartner, says: “Customers will not tolerate companies that have amnesia when it comes to remembering them and their preferences for recognition”. He adds: “This makes it imperative for companies to recognise their customers and to serve them pertinent content that demonstrates the proper recognition and treatment.”

Customers today have a belief that they are engaging in a relationship with brands. This does not just apply to their communications, but the entire journey of purchasing and then possibly reviewing products. Customers have an expectation of recognition so brands need to create a personalisation strategy if they have not already started on this path. The customer and brand relationship needs to be mutually beneficial, and with the data demands from some brands now starting to border on intrusive, this is more important than ever. You can’t expect customers to give up all that data and then not offer them something in return.

“If they collect all my personal data,” the buyer or constituent thinks, “then they should at least use all that data to understand me before they interact with me.” Moreover, they expect the relationship to be a positive one. They expect the provider to be competent and efficient, to provide assistance in solving their problems, and to honour promises made.

What do you think about the balance between personalisation and privacy? How much data should customers be expected to hand over when they make a purchase? Leave a comment below and let me know, or get in touch on LinkedIn.


Customer Personalisation – Where Can It All Go Wrong?

Getting customer personalisation right is tricky enough, but when you factor in all the ways it could go wrong, the prospect becomes extremely daunting. To make matters worse, these failures are often very public. However, the upside is that we can always learn from others' experiences - good or bad! Our infographic explores some of the worst incidents from the last few years, and offers some insight into how these disasters can be avoided.

 

Customer_personalisation_gone_wrong_


Webhelp Boosts Technology Enabler Pedigree with Acquisition of MyStudioFactory

Leading global customer experience and business process outsourcing company, Webhelp, has announced a partnership with top French digital strategy and implementation firm, MyStudioFactory.

 

MyStudioFactory is a market leader in designing and implementing mobile user experience solutions and app development and will ensure Webhelp can offer a seamless digital customer experience solution to its clients.

 

The acquisition, which is due to be finalised by the end of the year, is in line with Webhelp’s strategy of growing geographically and by sector expertise and is the 10th agreement the outsourcer has made in 24 months.

 

Matthieu Bouin, head of strategy, Webhelp said: “We know it is increasingly important to our clients for us to offer them a seamless, end-to-end, omni-channel solution to their customer experience requirements. We are proud of our ability to provide cutting edge solutions and by adding MyStudioFactory to the Webhelp family we will be able to take advantage of their expertise in the fields of mobile user experience, augmented reality and app development."

 

The existing management of MyStudioFactory, Guillaume Bonneault and Belaïd Moucer, will remain at the helm of the business, which will continue to operate from its offices in the 8th arrondissement in Paris.

 

Guillaume Bonneault, CEO and co-founder of MyStudioFactory, welcomed the deal, by saying: “Webhelp is a global leader in customer experience and has an extremely enviable client list. I am excited by the prospect of working with them to develop the digital customer experience solutions we can together offer their clients.”

 

 


Webhelp Boosts Technology Enabler Pedigree with Acquisition of MyStudioFactory

Leading global customer experience and business process outsourcing company, Webhelp, has announced a partnership with top French digital strategy and implementation firm, MyStudioFactory.

 

MyStudioFactory is a market leader in designing and implementing mobile user experience solutions and app development and will ensure Webhelp can offer a seamless digital customer experience solution to its clients.

 

The acquisition, which is due to be finalised by the end of the year, is in line with Webhelp’s strategy of growing geographically and by sector expertise and is the 10th agreement the outsourcer has made in 24 months.

 

Matthieu Bouin, head of strategy, Webhelp said: “We know it is increasingly important to our clients for us to offer them a seamless, end-to-end, omni-channel solution to their customer experience requirements. We are proud of our ability to provide cutting edge solutions and by adding MyStudioFactory to the Webhelp family we will be able to take advantage of their expertise in the fields of mobile user experience, augmented reality and app development."

 

The existing management of MyStudioFactory, Guillaume Bonneault and Belaïd Moucer, will remain at the helm of the business, which will continue to operate from its offices in the 8th arrondissement in Paris.

 

Guillaume Bonneault, CEO and co-founder of MyStudioFactory, welcomed the deal, by saying: “Webhelp is a global leader in customer experience and has an extremely enviable client list. I am excited by the prospect of working with them to develop the digital customer experience solutions we can together offer their clients.”