Webhelp response to the Covid-19 Coronavirus

Webhelp Business Continuity in a responsible manner

Our response to the Covid-19 crisis ensures the continuity of our business for our people, our clients and their customers.

We face an unprecedented time of disruption and uncertainty. From individuals, to families, to companies, we have all been impacted by the effects of the virus. We recognize that the global landscape faced by all businesses has changed due to the current crisis caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

That is why it is of utmost importance to us at Webhelp to ensure that we responded quickly, appropriately and in an agile way to the changing environment in which we operate as one of the leading Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies in the world.

With over 55 000 people  operating in  35 countries, we shoulder a huge responsibility in ensuring business continuity while at the same time prioritizing the health and safety of our people. Mitigating the risks to our people and company is a top priority and we have moved quickly to adapt the way we work and operate to make our company stronger for the future.

All of these mitigating initiatives have been implemented in complete alignment with our company’s mission, vision and cultural pillars.

Focusing on the safety of our people.

At Webhelp, we know that beyond anything, it is our people who make us who we are and allow us to offer our clients and their customers great service. Today, more than 38 000 Webhelpers are working from home – that's more than two thirds of our workforce.

“We are facing an unprecedented situation today, which requires that we take an exemplary citizen’s approach to protect the most vulnerable people and to do everything we can to limit the spread of this pandemia.”

We are responsible for over 55 000 people within our organization and so many more within the communities where we operate. Therefore, our first priority is to protect the safety of our people by leveraging all the options available to us, while also strictly adhering to the guidelines set out by the World Health Organization and the applicable local Governments regulations.

Strict protocols are in place providing important guidance to our people, our management and our clients across our regions, whether our teams are in a work-from-home set up or on site. This is updated as and when the situation changes with a huge focus on communications, using every channel available to us to engage with our people and our clients.

Partnering with our clients.

We put our clients at the heart and this means working in partnership with them to ensure that we create and quickly implement solutions that fit each client in addressing the specific challenges they face – disruption, channel shifts, increased demand – but also remain compliant with all regulatory and data privacy requirements. Building trust and maintaining that trust with our clients is paramount in the resilience of our business.

We keep in constant contact with our clients to anticipate their needs and address their challenges whether that be work-from-home or on-site while complying with all safe health and safety requirements.

Together, we have created solutions through a partnership approach that consistently brings a game-changing way of working while mobilizing the strength of all our people.

As governments are now setting out guidelines for the next phase, we need to plan and be ready to deploy, keeping the protection of our people as our priority. All Account & Operations Teams are working to ensure our clients’ campaigns transition to a “new normal”, minimizing risks and maximizing future operational resilience.

Changing our game. 

Times of crisis require swift decisions and action. That’s exactly what we did, we take bold moves to make things happen and happen fast. We have been primarily focused on managing the disruption through an established Command Team who has the mandate to coordinate all actions and decisions in the Group.

Through our agile teams, we have been responsive in mobilizing all options available to us by adopting a global unified approach to the challenges we face, while leveraging our global experience.

“We should remain attentive, creative, opportunistic and game-changing in all circumstances.” 

Our ability to identify, solve and view challenges as opportunities has reformed our way of working. The quick response of all our teams, including IT and Facility Management, enable us to continue to deliver our services in a safe environment for our employees. This means implementing increased hygiene protocols, work-from-home or working remotely at scale in all our geographies where applicable or practicing the social and spatial distance guidelines to safeguard our essential workers for the activities of our clients that are deemed as essential locally on some of our sites.

We have developed specific training on work-from-home / remote working operations and have trained our managers to ensure they adapt to the new way of working while delivering our WOW Operating Model smoothly. We have also reviewed our security and data privacy practices to adjust to the new working environment and offer the best protection for our clients and their customers.

40 000 of our people agreed to move, often within a few hours, to a work-from-home or remote working situation with our IT team providing tools and support to make this function swiftly.

Engaging with our people every day.

It is a very challenging situation that we find ourselves in but through this process of business continuity, we remain united as one Webhelp globally who Thinks Human. The connection and engagement of our people is reinforced regularly through strong-targeted communication, uniting teams and underlining our values. #WeAreWebhelp #StrongerTogether

Under the internal employee wellness program – WebHEALTH, we offer support to our people through tips and guidance on best practices in challenging situations while leveraging on our employee assistance programs to support the wellbeing of our people.

We have ensured the continuity of our business and created opportunities that will change our operating model while our people continue their Webhelp journey.

We are proud of our people’s proactive response and ability to show commitment and unity through mobilizing with great agility within an uncertain time.

We believe in two fundamental principles essential to any crisis resolution: ACTION and COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE.

Now more than ever, we must remain on the move.

Now more than ever, we must rely on our human capital and Think Human.

Now more than ever, we must live by our values and our culture.

 


How COVID-19 will create a revolution in flexible working

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to have an unprecedented impact on business and society across the globe, David Turner, Webhelp Managing Director and CEO for the UK Group, looks at how this unexpected force will drive a revolution in homeworking, and why businesses who struggle to embrace this may be placing themselves at a serious disadvantage.

Preface
01/04/20

Since the time of writing this, just a few weeks ago, the world has changed dramatically, with entire countries entering strict lockdown periods and large regions operating under shelter in place instructions. My thoughts below on the importance of flexibility and looking after our people have become increasingly pertinent, and as a business we have done our best to respond in kind. In 12 short days, more than 6,959 of our employees are now undertaking home based or remote working, and this number will continue to rise as we work with our clients to tackle operational, technical and logistical challenges.

I owe a huge debt of thanks for this incredible feat to our IT and Operations teams who continue to go above and beyond, to our many UK clients for their support in this changing environment and most importantly to all our people for their commitment and dedication.

You can read more about our current position on the Coronavirus and the key areas our people are supporting here.

It is now obvious that a seismic change is being experienced by our industry, the ramifications of which will be felt for years to come. This will alter the customer experience landscape forever, and we must be both responsible and responsive in meeting this challenge.

David Turner

We are living in astonishing times, and the whole world is watching as Governments and scientists argue over the best approach to safeguard the health of populations, to look after the vulnerable and to keep the global economy stable.

And there is no doubt that related conversations are happening within the worldwide business community, debating the best strategies and most flexible solutions to keep the wheels of work turning and employees safe and well looked after.

 

At Webhelp, our people are our top priority, and we are reacting quickly, providing daily guidance and working with our clients and community to ensure that everyone across the business is informed and as equipped as possible to face what is likely to be a period of rapid change.

The UK, and the rest of the world, is now facing the biggest economic and social upheaval since the Second World War, and as we did during that challenging period, we must be ready to rise to meet some unprecedented changes in the status quo.

The transformation of the wartime workforce is well documented, with the image of Rosie the Riveter in her coveralls and red bandanna alongside the slogan “We Can Do It!” becoming one of the best-known icons of World War II. Now as then, we need to call upon new ways of thinking and using resources and people that we have in the best, most innovative ways.

It is a time for increased flexibility, and this isn’t something businesses should be afraid of. In fact Forbes studies confirm that increasing flexibility creates significant improvements in morale, productivity, and engagement - especially when employees are given the option to work remotely or to an adaptable schedule.

It has been my experience, which is backed by evidence from The International Journal of Economics, that flexibility in working hours reduces employee work stress, improves their mental and physical stability – which in turn creates greater effectiveness and efficiency, determination and coordination.

I completely understand that some business may be wary of remote working, perhaps due to the feeling that they can no longer control or measure the number of hours their employees are working.

Mark Davidson, Chief Operating Officer at Webhelp, suggests that we can alleviate this concern in the following way:

“When considering remote working, it is important to set clear and consistent goals and maintain a results orientated approach, making sure that employee focus remains firmly on tangible gains and objectives.”

Added to this, actually going into the office creates a less productive environment – as The Wall Street Journal notes: “Office workers are interrupted–or self-interrupted–roughly every three minutes.” And, after interruption it takes almost half an hour to get back on focus to their original task.

There is no doubt that along with COVID-19, a radical change is coming, whether we are ready for it or not - and business that mobilise NOW to embrace this new way of working, will find themselves ahead of the curve in relation to their less adaptable competitors, and way ahead in terms of resilience and productivity.

Remote working is becoming the new normal with CNN Business reporting that companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon have already implemented remote working policies for many or all of their employees around the globe.

There is now no time to waste, as reporter Sean Peak for Business News Daily concludes:

“Instead of resisting the change, organizations should improve their remote work policies and capabilities.”

As a people-first business, we are committed to taking a human approach to this crisis and using the technology we have to safeguard all our colleagues, which means rapidly looking at ways to increase our infrastructure to support homeworking where possible.

This isn’t a universal solution, and we know that homeworking won’t be the correct answer for every business objective, including some within our own operations. This will have to be a managed process, which might not be suitable for the full range of employees. Finding the correct balance will be something that will take co-operation, innovation and experience.

Many in the business community think that at, this stage in the game, we can only wait and wonder, however, I firmly believe that brands who use this precious (fast decreasing) window to take decisive action to look after their people, and put strategies and logistics for a degree of homeworking in place, will reap the benefits both in the short term and in the uncertain future.

   Homeworking - the facts!
 

  • Remote employees work an additional 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees, which is nearly 17 additional workdays a year.
  • Remote employees take longer breaks on average than office employees (22 minutes versus 18 minutes, respectively), but they work an additional 10 minutes a day. On balance, for a 50 week time period this translates into an increase of approximately 3.57 extra working days a year.
  • Office workers are unproductive for an average 37 minutes a day, not including lunch or breaks, whereas remote employees are unproductive for only 27 minutes. That’s almost six more days’ worth of productivity annually!
 * Data Airtasker 2019

 


Communications specialist, Rebecca Price, on emotion and customer behaviours

 

In part 6 of our blog serialisation of the latest Webhelp whitepaper “Emotion: Establishing emotional connections with customers: What brands need to know” Guest writer, Brand and communications specialist, Rebecca Price, Partner, Frank, Bright and Abel talks about how brands can use emotional connection to lead to profitable customer behaviours.

How can brands create emotional connections?

Without a clear brand purpose,that goes beyond practical product or service benefits, customers might not see any reasons to commit to a brand. A brand purpose focuses on the more emotional, social and ethical benefits the company stands for. As new generations become paying customers, we’re seeing brand purpose become increasingly important in terms of creating meaningful emotional connections, as organizational purpose and values are key purchase decision factors.

Customers are self-informed and very savvy when it comes to making brand choices. To compete, brands need to make sure their purpose is compelling, and bring it to life in the competitive landscape and on key issues. Often, apart from the point of sale, customers experience a brand when they have questions or a problem that needs solving. This means that brands should think of their purpose in a wide context of great products, presence in the community, and very importantly, through the customer experience.

Brand purpose strengthens customer connection. When combined with brand values and all the other things that constitute a brand, this connection can be very powerful and lead to profitable customer behaviours.

How do you create a compelling brand purpose?

Core to defining a brand’s purpose is a deep understanding of the customer. Today, that goes beyond traditional demographics and incorporates customer behaviours – and even ideologies. Purpose-driven brands need to have an ideology too.

Before a brand can determine “why” it exists, it needs to determine what it stands for, and what it’s willing to fight for. A strong brand evolves over time, and having a strong ideology provides the compass needed to remain consistent and likeable over time.

Brands and customer relationships are based on emotion. This means that brands need to have authentic, ‘on brand’, two way conversations, and consider how those conversations will impact customer sentiment.

How can brands help their people connect with customers?

To help employees represent the brand effectively to customers, employers are increasingly focusing on benchmarking, enhancing or recalibrating their employer brands. Employees live the brand through their behaviours, so helping them to understand and live the brand’s purpose and values is vital – particularly in customer service environments.

Employees essentially act as brand advocates, so the potential to positively impact customer perceptions through customer engagement is huge.

You can follow blog the serialisation, and join the conversation, on the Webhelp LinkedIn and Twitter sites or read the Whitepaper in full below.


Brand humanity – what it is and why it works!

 

In part 5 of our blog serialisation of the latest Webhelp whitepaper “Emotion: Establishing emotional connections with customers: What brands need to know” John Leighton Head of Customer Service, easyJet, shares his view on why emotional connection is essential for brands.

Emotional connection is innately important to easyJet’s brand positioning and it’s come naturally. We’re starting to really push the fact that we’re a retailer, not an airline, and we recognise that as a retailer, we’re retailing products that are extremely emotional.

So, as we’ve evolved it’s happened, but our focus continues to strengthen; for instance, it’s a foundation for our relationship with Webhelp.

Measurement of emotional connection isn’t yet ‘on point’ in our industry. In fact, the way the customer service industry measures things – voice of the customer, customer satisfaction, customer effort, etc. – is actually quite linear. We’re doing some interesting work with Webhelp, powered by its business intelligence team, to understand when and how customers are coming in, why they’re calling, what the true behavioural outcomes are – rather than customer-stated outcomes. This will be important in helping us understand the monetary value of emotional connection.

Measuring the monetary impact of emotional connection is much easier for a subscription model when you know your customer base and can see customer reaction to things that you ‘tweak’ – be it service innovation or pricing, for example.

Our own understanding of this will be helped by easyJet’s launch of easyJet Holidays which will give us much greater insights into the links between personal motivators and what products our customers buy. As such, we’ll be able to anticipate what people want from travel and facilitate that need. The product positioning and the sell will be easier as it’s about offering things that will enhance what customers want – and what they’re doing.

There are challenges however. Organisational silos – and even the way companies do things – can get in the way. Despite the industry lamenting it for decades, ‘Service’ is generally still a cost centre, whereas ‘Sales’ is a profit centre.

If you apply that to the airline industry today, this poses challenges. Why is the customer flying? Do they want/need bags? Do they have a new baby? This insight is across marketing, sales, AND customer service…

In terms of the human skills required to build emotional connection, we know that authenticity is key, and we are working internally and with Webhelp on how to make our customer experiences authentic.

We also know that advisor longevity is a key contributor to emotionally connected customers, and Webhelp is a strong force to be reckoned with in this area. For instance, advisor tenure in Cape Town has led to the highest levels of customer satisfaction across the entire company (EasyJet estate).

To conclude, I would be remiss if I didn’t confirm that data is essential to build emotional connections with customers. It’s not just important to have it, but to actually use it purposefully to understand what’s important to customers.

The future is about micro-segmentation based on expert use of data. By understanding who customers are, what pushes their buttons, and what their personal motivations for travel are, and combining this understanding with ‘human’ customer experience, we will be able to create strong bonds with specific customers. For example, at weekends they’re a family customer, but during the week they’re a business customer. Their wants and needs – and expectations – throughout the entire customer journey need to be treated differently.

You can follow blog the serialisation, and join the conversation, on the Webhelp LinkedIn and Twitter sites or read the Whitepaper in full below.