Webhelp and The Very Group

Collaboration with our clients is second nature to Webhelp, and we are excited to work with partners who are aligned to our culture of ‘Think Human’, and who are innovators and game-changers themselves. Here we reveal the joint approach taken with The Very Group, a major player in the online retail and financial services industry.

Webhelp and The Very Group

Joining the discussion were Suzanne Edmondson, Head of Global Customer Operations and Lucie Child, Strategy Manager for Customer Care from The Very Group, and Kellyann McCafferty, Account Director at Webhelp UK Group and Morne Amos, Head of Operations for Webhelp SA.

  • What was the starting position of The Very Group, and your outlook before the onset of COVID-19?

Suzanne Edmondson (The Very Group):

So, like any major organization we had a strong development roadmap in place for the future. However, unlike other companies, our brand has a fairly unique proposition, as we blend being an online digital retailer with offering an integrated credit function.

So, while we could be compared to services like Amazon, we give quite a different package to our customers, 95% of our customer base uses the credit function to access goods. A large proportion of revenue is driven through our financial services proposition. We’re attractive to customers, who value the ability to spread the cost, and brand partners, whose products are accessible a new customer base through credit.

Prior to COVID-19, we were comfortable that we were providing a compelling service to our customer base, and delivering our purpose to make good things easily accessible to more people.

Lucie Child (The Very Group):

I’d agree. Customers can access credit from numerous places, but we offer a really integrated and clear approach: a one stop solution for their retail credit needs. And most importantly, we put the data and the knowledge we have about our customers at the heart of our service. As a result, our customers appreciate the ability to spread the cost, to have some breathing space and take the pressure off, while still being able to give their families the things they want too.

 

  • How has COVID changed the landscape and the way you continue to service the market?

Suzanne Edmondson (The Very Group):

Our strategy hasn’t changed. We are seeing an upswing in customers, which aligns with our goal to bring on board more highly engaged customers in the new financial year. That’s harder than it sounds as we have a large, loyal and active customer base and aim to bring in new customers with the same level of engagement.
However, this success was not only due to our credit function, but the availability of product and speed of delivery – something which was very important to families under lockdown. For example, trying to buy a barbecue that would actually arrive before the sunshine disappeared!

 

  • Do you have any insight to share on the service provided by Webhelp prior to COVID?

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

Prior to COVID-19, we saw the conclusion of the most successful seasonal peak yet. Performance was high and Q1 was healthy across the board (with service credits given for the period), and there was a very strong trajectory in the last two quarters.

Suzanne Edmondson (The Very Group):

Our metrics are all based on customer outcomes. During COVID-19 as you can imagine, we had a few peaks and troughs, especially prior to establishing our homeworking solution. However, at TVG we live and die by TNPS, which is the touch point Net Promoter Score (NPS) that measures customer satisfaction post interaction. Over this period this metric reached 30+, which was phenomenal given the circumstances.
First contact resolution within a seven day period remained high; it was strong at 73%+ going into COVID-19 and remained above 70% throughout, which is again fantastic. And given the diverse operational, fulfilment and logistical challenges faced this was a significant achievement.

Morne Amos (Webhelp):

Prior to COVID, an innovative impact sourcing strategy was in action for TVG for their seasonal peak, a key success story for the partnership. I believe that this fantastic initiative between TVG, Webhelp and Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator has delivered the most innovative impact sourcing strategy in South African history.

 

  • Do you have anything to share on the operational approach during COVID, for example how and when our partnership reacted – any standout examples, or challenges?

Suzanne Edmondson (The Very Group):

To be honest, I think the biggest challenge was the incredible pace. There are issues when you do anything with that level of hastiness, simply because you are forced to make so many decisions in one day.  Normally we have time to calculate, consider and combine approaches; however, by necessity leaders were working incredibly swiftly in both organisations, over different directions and geographies. This created some challenging conversations. But any partnership would have faced the same hurdles, considering the unprecedented nature of the situation.

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

With the estate covering multiple territories in the UK, South Africa and India, we had to react to three lockdowns in parallel, all of which had connected consequences. There was significant impact across the whole partnership, but I am extremely proud of the way we managed to minimise disruption whilst also launching a new virtual centre in the UK.
We knew these issues were coming based on what we had seen happening in other countries so before lockdown restrictions in the UK were initiated, we agreed with TVG to set up over 140 employees to work from home in Glasgow. Kit was shipped to homes, virtual assessments were completed and systems testing was successfully rolled out. A massive collective effort from the team enabled us to do this in less than 10 days.
Faced with a different environment in South Africa we made the decision to delay the move to working from home and bolstered the team in the UK by virtually recruiting and training over 70 additional colleagues into TVG. This was a huge success for the partnership, as the team provided support and flexibility to the existing infrastructure. Within the next three weeks we were then able to mobilize over 270 colleagues in South Africa to work from home, with kit, in a fully compliant environment.
As restrictions in South Africa started to ease, the team were able to bring a further 100 colleagues into the office – which we set up according to strict government guidelines.
I have to say that the commitment shown from all of our people both in Webhelp and in TVG was incredible, going above and beyond to make sure that we were never behind the curve.

Morne Amos (Webhelp):

On the people front, it’s one thing to have the intent to think human and it’s another to put investment behind it, so a high-point for me was to see that our board was quite intentional about putting people first, despite the significant economics in play. And that was clear in all decisions; like providing transport and equipment, making sure there was investment into health and safety precautions, mask provision and temperature checks in the office.

 

  • Thoughts for the future and how the market will react, given the negative financial forecasts?

Suzanne Edmondson (The Very Group):

I think we are now in a really strong position. We’ve started to get a rhythm and routine, and performance and productivity is virtually on par with pre-pandemic levels.
I feel that, regardless of whether or not you’re looking at our virtual team set up within the UK, or those working from home or the office in South Africa – the level of adoption, flexibility and determination to be able to deliver the great outcomes for our customers is phenomenal.
And yes, there were teething problems, of course, but nothing that we’ve not been able to lean into and crack on with. But, you know, ultimately, I’m really pleased with where we currently are, I couldn’t ask for anything more – the team are doing a fantastic job.

Lucie Child (The Very Group):

We have some confidence that our business model is quite recession proof, because as I mentioned earlier, we do give people that breathing space. However, how the market will react to the traditionally important retail events like Black Friday remains to be seen.

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

On the operational side, I feel that homeworking, rotational, blended and hybrid working models will all become more important as we move into the next phase of business after COVID. From a peak point of view it will offer us much more flexibility, and we are building this into the partnership for the future.

Lucie Child (The Very Group):

Absolutely, we are looking at various models, reinforced by the feedback that we’ve got from our people in a recent survey. Their response to homeworking was very positive; they valued the extra time it gave them with their families, less commuting and more flexibility.
You know, if someone had told us six months ago that we’d have managed to make this transformation happen so quickly while delivering great customer outcomes, and looking after all our people, I’d have thought it was impossible.
Yet we pulled together, we had the right attitude. We made it happen. And that is actually exciting because we’ve got empowerment; and we’ve got the right people, so the question is – how do we harness that in the future?

 

To discover more about customer service models post COVID-19 read our new Whitepaper, a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, on Reimagining service for the new world which is underpinned by our unique industry perspective alongside new research to discover the operating models of the future.


Webhealth KM Challenge

WebHEALTH KM Challenge has travelled beyond the Earth to raise funds for STEPtember!

Webhelp launched its biggest WebHEALTH challenge yet, reuniting thousands of Webhelpers from across the world around one common goal; travelling the circumference of the world through exercise in just 30 days.​ We’ve now hit the halfway mark of our time to complete the WebHEALTH KM Challenge, and have smashed our initial goals far beyond!

In just 15 days, we’ve not only travelled the circumference of the world, we’ve also gone around the moon for a total of 50.996KM!
Back on earth, some of our participants are getting very creative in adding kilometers, like our colleague Tor Andre, a customer service representative based in Malaga who took his Webhelp spirit to the next level!

Besides having fun and working on our fitness as a community, there’s a bigger reason behind our dedication to this challenge.
As a company determined to make business more human, Corporate Social Responsibility is highly important to us.
For many, being able to exercise or even simply walk might be an entirely normal thing, but unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. ​
One of the many reasons we launched this initiative is to sponsor important charities such as STEPtember, a global initiative to raise funds for critical Cerebral Palsy research.​
Cerebral Palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood that in various degrees hinders its patients’ from living a normal life.

Webhelp has joined many major global and local corporations to raise funds through the STEPtember initiatives to support research that could truly change many patients’ lives.​
To find out more please visit www.steptember.us.

Here is what Sandrine Asseraf, Group Managing Director, People & Business Development – Legal & Compliance and Dominique Chatelin, President of Supervisory board Webhelp Payment Services had to say about the initiative:

How does Webhelp and sponsoring charities fit together?

Sandrine Asseraf: Our Think Human approach means that we take care of our people and their health. We look after each other and also the communities we live in. Participating or funding the associations in our communities which contribute to changing the life of people, is part of our commitment to positively impact our societies. The KM Challenge is not just Webhelp supporting an amazing cause, it is each Webhelper playing their part in making business more human – inside and outside of Webhelp.

Why is it so important to participate in STEPtember?

Dominique Chatelin: WebHEALTH Kilometer challenge is a great initiative, and by combining it with STEPtember, we can raise money to finance medical research and support for kids suffering from Cerebral Palsy. This gives us the opportunity to Think Human as we walk for kids that will probably never walk. The program was born in Australia, and is now also available in France, Netherlands, Turkey and many other countries: https://www.steptember.org.au/

Are you participating in the challenge yourself and how?

Dominique Chatelin: Of course! I am running and you can support me on my page: https://www.steptember.fr/fundraisers/dominiquechatelin.

In the past, I have participated in a semi-marathon pushing a wheelchair to contribute to the same cause.

Sandrine Asseraf: I am a much slower runner than Dominique so I try to do some biking as well to put in more kilometers!

Any words of wisdom to close with?

Dominique Chatelin & Sandrine Asseraf: Having good health is an undervalued gift that we often take for granted. Until we face people that do not have the chance of this invaluable gift, running for them takes little efforts. Nonetheless, it is such a big help for these kids and adults who will never walk! Enjoy your WebHEALTH Kilometer Challenge and have fun contributing to STEPtember.

We’ve managed an incredible achievement in these first 2 weeks already, but now is not the time to stop! ​We are on our way around Mars as we continue to reach for the stars!

​You can keep track of our progress in this blogspace and across our social media pages through the hashtag #WebHEALTHKilometerChallenge ​


OneShot #5 - Influence

Our 5th edition of OneShot is here!

Download your OneShot magazine

Following the unprecedented situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous companies have been forced to make vital adjustments to stay afloat and also guarantee business continuity. Our interesting reads also include:

A Word: KOL – Key Opinion Leader
A Number: 10,000 subscribers and no more
Three Opinions: Influence: How to get your messages across?
One News: TikTok supports its position in Europe
A Demo: The dark social
A B-Case: How Webhelp’s KYC participated in securing a platform by Bpifrance
A Hashtag: #TrustYourInfluencer
An Offer: MyStudioFactory
An appointment: Conversation 2020, Paris
A Conversation: How to restore confidence in the time of fake news?
A Story: Santa Claus, citizen of the New World

Read all about these exciting and thought-provoking topics in our 5th edition of OneShot.


Employees recognised for exceptional performance at UK Star Awards

Shining lights in customer experience from across the UK were recognised by Webhelp at last night’s virtual 2020 Star Awards. It is the first year that Webhelp’s awards are all linked to its company values and cultural behavioural pillars; recognition, integrity, unity, commitment and ‘wow’.

Marking their 10th anniversary this year, the Webhelp Star Awards are driven by employees across all areas of the business. Everyone within the company is encouraged to nominate local stars from any site in the UK. The awards recognise and reward excellence across the business at a team and individual level.

There are monthly, quarterly and annual award categories, with the initial prizes ranging from an extra half-day of annual leave and a Star Awards certificate to a full-day holiday. Quarterly winners are shortlisted to win an annual award.

The 2020 winners announced below each received a cash prize of £1,000.

David Turner, Webhelp UK CEO, said:

“The Webhelp Star Awards is one of the highlights of the year and, even though we couldn’t gather face to face, it’s never been more important to pay tribute to our teams and individual colleagues for what they have achieved.

“I’m proud of our Webhelp employees and the flexibility, commitment and unity they have shown as we have embraced and overcome the challenges of the last 6 months.  

“Our priorities through 2020 have been keeping our people safe and our business strong. We felt it was important to go ahead with the Star Awards as an online event and to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication.”

Webhelp UK Star Awards 2020 Winners:

People First Award

Emily Thomson, Glasgow

Emily supports and encourages her team to meet their targets and become top performers.  She is known for having great ideas, using her initiative and going above and beyond in her role.

The Integrity Award

Karen Gavazzeni, Glasgow

Karen has overcome a lot of change on her campaign and managed this like the true professional she is.

Client at the Heart Award

Lauryn Walker, Rothesay

Lauryn resolved a major issue for her client against a tight deadline, ensuring the client’s customers were not impacted. She was calm, she was patient and she was committed to finding a solution.

Commitment Award

Harry McKinstray, Kilmarnock

Harry is innovative, flexible, collaborative and, above all else, he just gets the job done. Nominees in this category are dedicated, driven to achieving great outcomes; they show resilience and have a real determination to overcome any obstacle.

Passionate Game Changer Award

Ryan Bogan, Kilmarnock

Ryan has been recognised for his attitude, insight and delivery. He’s hard-working, determined and always thinking of new ideas.

Recognition Award

Chris Galante, Sheffield

Chris demonstrated exceptional effort and dedication throughout the set up and launch of a new Webchat team for his client, in response to the pandemic. He was focused, committed and organised when supporting the speedy training and mobilisation of 54 colleagues within two weeks.

Strive to Enjoy Every Day Award

Stuart Fraser, Falkirk

Stuart has been recognised because of his great work implementing mental health support in the workplace. His initiative was a huge hit and colleagues have remarked how supportive and innovative he is.

The Unity Award

Team Louise, Kilmarnock

This team, led by Louise Wilson, was the top performing team on site for 16 months at the time of their nomination. The team was also called “a force of nature led by a fearless leader” and it has been stated that we would not find a more dedicated, energetic and successful team.

The WOW Award

Emma Bradford, Dearne Valley

Angela Bartraham, Glasgow

Chris Glendinning, Falkirk

Not just one but three WOW Awards, in recognition of what an amazing year this has been when so many Webhelp employees rose to the challenge in 2020.
Emma, Angela and Chris all demonstrated energy, drive, problem-solving skills, passion to succeed. Above all else, they are role models who their colleagues respect and look up to.