[Webinar] Travel rebound, evolution or revolution in traveller experience?

Travel Webinar

Wednesday December 16th, 2pm GMT (3pm CET)

2020 has changed travel forever. With the entire sector facing challenges like never before, we talk to industry leaders about what this means for the future. Join us for an interactive webinar featuring​​:
  • John Leighton, Head of Customer Service at easyJet
  • Paul Cowan, Director, Global Customer operations at Egencia
  • Meltem Uysaler, Senior Director of Global Customer Operations and Central Direct Sales at IATA
  • Eric de la Bonnardière, CEO at Evaneos
  • Nora Boros, Chief sector Growth Officer at Webhelp

I​n this 50 minute session, industry experts will discuss their response  to COVID-19, highlighting the key lessons and how they are incorporating these into their future strategy to deliver a great experience for passengers and guests.


Rising to travellers’ expectations for the future of travel

What was once a favourite pastime is now looking very different due to this year’s events of COVID-19. Traveller behaviour has rapidly changed, with many opting to not take a trip at all this year. It has changed our ways of thinking towards travel, leading to historic transformation in organisations and society.

In 2019, the number of passengers boarded by the global airline industry reached over 4.5 billion people. At the beginning of 2020, this all changed. Travel unsurprisingly came to a halt due to coronavirus. The total number of flights began to decline by over 60%, according to Flightradar24 racking statistics. This was due to the nature of the virus, forcing governments to ground planes and stop all unnecessary travel.

Government guidelines progressively relaxed in June, allowing travel and leisure activities to resume and get back to some form of ‘normality’ to revive the economy. However, according to IATA, there wasn’t a significant improvement in passenger demand due to the lockdown and quarantine in some markets  with August’s traffic performance the industry’s worst-ever summer season: August international passenger demand plummeted 88.3% compared to August 2019.”

Rising to traveller’s expectations

Getting on a plane and travelling the world is not top of everyone’s bucket list at this moment in time. People are not travelling like they did before the pandemic. The uncertainty of ‘wave two’ is causing many people to become frustrated and emotionally unsettled for the future. And with markets imposing quarantine rules, it has impacted travellers wanting to go abroad altogether.

Travel is recognised as a sense of escapism – now fraught with concerns that were not always top of mind before: cleaning procedures, hygiene, or what places to visit.
Webhelp’s Travel & Mobility Sector Lead, Nora Boros states from our previous article “No matter what kind of trip is being taken, travel clients go through a myriad of emotions before, during, and after their journey – which will undoubtedly affect their consumer behaviour.”
The first wave of COVID-19 amplified these emotions; undoubtedly affecting consumers behaviours and expectations towards travelling and the industry overall.
Nonetheless, it enables organisations to augment and find alternative ways of transforming their servicing and offer travellers new ways of attaining the pleasure of wanderlust.

Health and safety are at the forefront of travelling now more than ever. Passengers are more inquisitive about hygiene policies and what exactly the process looks like before, during, and after flying – the same goes for domestic travel.

It’s not surprising many people have opted to not travel, go on a staycation, or save their plans for a trip in 2021. A Euronews poll surveyed four European countries – Germany, France, Italy, and Spain to identify travel plans which showed a comparison pre-COVID and now. Respondents from all countries had over a 60% decrease in travelling abroad, an average 50% increase in no travelling while domestic travelling stayed consistent between 24%-40%. A Statista survey showed “one third of respondents in the United Kingdom planned to spend their annual leave on holidays in the UK if travel abroad was still difficult due to lockdown restrictions. Over a quarter of respondents expected to spend more time at home.”

Travel influencing new ways of working

Although spending more time at home allows people to have time with their families and make more time for themselves, many people have had to shift to work from home trying to find and maintain a work-life-balance.

These changes have affected people’s behaviours concerning their place of work, inspiring people to seek alternative travel possibilities such as work from home, but anywhere.

“As we continue to adapt to the new ways of working, our work lives become more flexible”, Nora Boros states in our future of travel blog, “leisure travel will become blended with business needs, giving more consideration than ever to the concept of ‘Bleisure’.”

Introducing hybrid models of flexible working allows colleagues to work from home, the office or anywhere in the world. This could open-up longer trips for travellers who want to stay somewhere with office space, or result in an increase of international mobility for organisations to implement.

Webhelp has used the flexible working approach, Webhelp Anywhere with several clients to ensure the safety of colleagues while positively achieving business continuity. We have supported clients with their digital transformation strategy by identifying quick-wins and sustainable long-term objectives to phase through the crisis and transition into the new normal.

As we continue to phase through these uncertain times, it is an opportunity to invest in digital and operational transformation capabilities and become a differentiator in the market, as this will play a key role in helping travellers feel safe in their future travels.


Interested to learn more about these changes and travellers’ expectations for the future?

Sign up to our webinar where we will discuss how businesses can rethink their customer experience strategy and operational/digital transformation.

Sign-up for our webinar

Gobeyond Partners expands into DACH region

Gobeyond Partners, a new type of consulting firm that partners with clients to solve complex customer journey challenges, has today announced its expansion into the DACH region. Building upon over 20 years of experience in the customer journey and consulting space, the firm will bolster its already strong teams across the UK and France and be better able to service its wealth of German, Austrian, and Swiss clients.

As part of the Webhelp Group, the new Gobeyond Partners DACH team will be co-located in Nuremberg, the current headquarters for the Webhelp in the DACH region.

Ludger Strom has been appointed the Managing Director of Gobeyond Partners for the DACH region, with a strong consulting background in customer journey transformation. Ludger and his team will develop Gobeyond Partners’ existing client portfolio across High Tech, Financial Services, Automotive, Health, and Multichannel Retail, as well, as work alongside Webhelp and its clients to support their transformation agendas

At a time when 60% of business leaders are re-evaluating how much they will be investing in change and transformation due to COVID-19, the team’s expertise will provide a significant value add to clients looking to build back better and navigate the evolving digital complexities in customer journey transformation.

Mark Palmer, CEO of Gobeyond Partners comments on the expansion:

“We have delivered work for DACH clients for a number of years, and a local team and location has always been part of our plan. However, the rapid digitisation of channels and cost transformation agenda that many companies are now facing, has accelerated this. Through our DACH team, we can help existing and new clients navigate this complex landscape.”

Ludger Strom, MD of the DACH practice continues:

“I am delighted to be heading up our new DACH practice. I look forward to supporting our current clients in the region, as well as partnering with new clients who are accelerating their digital customer journey strategies. It’s a very exciting time for us. We have some ambitious targets for the next year and I am actively looking for talent in the market to grow the team.”

Markus von Rhein, CEO of Webhelp DACH concludes:

“This is an exciting time for Gobeyond Partners and Webhelp. We know clients will value the additional service offering to support their transformation work.”


About Gobeyond Partners

Gobeyond Partners is a new type of consulting firm that partners with its clients to solve complex customer journey challenges. By combining deep sector expertise with an award-winning approach to client service and value, Gobeyond Partners brings its clients’ transformation vision to life.

Part of the Webhelp group, the team at Gobeyond Partners operates globally – understanding what it takes to transform organisations in the face of changing customer behaviours, cost pressures, and legacy systems.

The firm’s unique customer journey view is broad and deep, helping clients break down organisational silos and deliver a fully connected omnichannel customer experience.

More information can be found at: gobeyondpartners.com


Why a robust talent strategy is so important during the Covid-19 era

Gillian Campbell, Chief People Officer – Webhelp UK Region, discusses what makes an effective talent strategy, the core steps in achieving this and why, during the pandemic, building the right resources and being willing to evolve rapidly has become so fundamental.

Gillian Campbell Talent blog

At Webhelp we work hard to attract, identify, develop, engage, retain and deploy talented and passionate people, and have designed a robust strategy to help us do this.

I believe that an effective talent strategy must have the company’s mission at its core. It must be completely aligned with the business strategy. Together, we strive to put our people first while making sure our clients remain at the heart of everything we do.

You need to have the right structures in place for employee engagement, rewards and development. Companies must also define and deliver good leadership at every level.

A diversity and inclusion programme is an essential part of any effective talent strategy today. Diverse companies and leadership teams have been found to be more successful. For example, recent research suggests that listed firms with at least one in three female executives have a profit margin over 10 times greater.

Identifying internal talent that can move up within the business is just as important to your wider strategy as attracting new employees. Creating dedicated initiatives for key groups within the company to achieve this goal is vital — it shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.

At Webhelp, we have a Deputy Team Leader programme that develops a pipeline of Webhelp leaders of the future, with a structured academic learning path including on the job experience and an external accreditation. This ensures that employees can play an active role in developing their career and accessing a valuable network.

But the best talent strategies are always evolving, organisations have been focused on becoming more agile in recent years and that process has been accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital solutions should now be at the forefront of business strategy and, for talent management, investment in online learning and development systems will be a crucial in future proofing the workforce. Online tools like Office 365, SharePoint, Teams, Mural, Miro, Parabol, and Google Docs are helping everyone to work more efficiently, and have been invaluable during the shift to working from home. They engage, empower and assist in the easy execution of tasks.

And, it is also becoming clear that emotional connections in business matter so much more now. Companies will build stronger, more meaningful relationships with customers if they have that connection with their own people. Talent strategies have shifted in this direction, to put structures and benefits in place that respond to the needs of employees today. You have to start by fine-tuning the recruitment process to bring the most intelligent and empathetic talent into the business.

We’ve implemented a learning framework that ensures that we are developing our people and our future talent from their first day on the job and throughout their journey at Webhelp. Our learning framework identifies ‘core’ learning, ‘in-life’ development and talent development.

This new level of maturity in the learning framework for talent development programmes, has meant that everyone can see the benefits. Not only in terms of talent development but also the career paths we have put in place for our people.

It’s also vital to create a structured feedback forum, to create understanding of employee needs and expectations. It is equally important to acknowledge commitment, to reward and to recognise hard work and dedication, and to look at both personal and professional development.

As such, our WebPATHS career progression programme recognises that everyone’s ambitions are different. Some people want to learn new skills, while others need freedom to spend more time on their caring responsibilities, or to pursue studies. Providing exciting and tailored career paths with credible development opportunities means we can retain talent for longer.

The primary objective for most companies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been trying to maintain continuity. For Webhelp, that was achieved by enabling 8,000 colleagues to work from home effectively – and keeping everyone fully engaged and supported. We have also virtually onboarded over 500 new advisors for home-working roles.

We have re-trained our people to work on the most urgent client situations. We provided access to real-time virtual coaching, training, tools and support to help them succeed in their roles during the crisis. In fact 20,000 hours of training were delivered over just eight weeks.

We also set up social learning groups, so that our team leaders could share lessons and ideas on engaging teams in a virtual world. This enabled our management development consultants to connect with our team managers and ensure that the development and support package was fit for purpose during the transition to working from home, reaching 650 managers across the globe with a personal and tailored learning experience.

We recognised the danger of overlooking employee career goals and aspirations during this time. We remain committed to ensuring that our people can continue to grow and develop and are rewarded for the commitment they’ve shown during the crisis.

Companies have to become more adaptable. Whether work is delivered at home or in the office is becoming less relevant. We’re seeing more flexibility in terms of when and how work is delivered, with greater scope to shift work between geographies and people, and adapt to external changes.

As businesses become more flexible, a much healthier focus on outcomes will emerge. This must be underpinned by data-driven performance management as colleagues at all levels increasingly understand the critical relationship between behaviours, outputs and outcomes.

As the significance of health, wellbeing and safety intensifies, a culture of responsibility towards one another has emerged. This brings shifts in the balance of trust and control. Businesses need to carefully consider how they can help create the optimal home-working setup and ensure employee wellbeing in the short and long term.

Organisations must act now to put these ideas into practice, as even before the pandemic, an effective talent strategy was central to a company’s success, but now having the right one in place will be absolutely fundamental to survival.


Optimaal klantcontact tijdens piekdrukte

Alles over bereikbaarheid en klanttevredenheid

Download de longread en krijg meer inzicht in:

  • De kansen en valkuilen in piekperiodes
  • Het voorkomen van imagoschade
  • De ervaringen van bol.com, H&M en Zilveren Kruis


OneShot – Hashtag #TrustYourInfluencer

Your brand? Your products? It’s the influencers that talk about them best. In any case, they are better understood by your target market. Here are three tips for working well with them.
1. Consider the influencer to be a true partner.

Everything starts with a good collaboration with them. A good partnership isn’t simply asking an influencer to showcase your product to their followers. This way of looking at it - as forming a human sandwich with the brand - is inefficient, even counter-productive. Today, influencers ask to include the spirit of the brand. Therefore, the influencer should be seen as a consultant for communicating on social media, and not as a simple megaphone. So, the entire challenge is first in identifying which influencers will be the most suitable with respect to the brand’s objectives. The error generally lies in always working with the same pool of influencers and reasoning quantitively based on the number of followers accumulated. It is better to customise together, that is to have a very qualitative and individualised approach based on legitimacy.

2. Let yourself be influenced by your influencers.

In general, brands assume a risk when they express themselves on social media. Trolls will find something there to vent about... The goal of collaborating with an influencer is to create a message that will be appreciated by their community – by relying on their legitimacy and expertise. This opens new doors for the brand, and therefore the brand finds new playing fields and new forums in which to express themselves. In a nutshell, influence allows brands to have a voice accepted by a
community, rather than top-down. The influencer knows their community perfectly well: they are the only person who knows whether or not they will be on board. Therefore, it is better to listen to them and trust them! Particularly as many of them are born communicators...

3. To generate engagement, favour micro-influencers.

On social networks, in order to add a human dimension to the relationship with the brand, it is wise to switch to micro-influencers instead of working with a ‘face of the brand’. Admittedly, the latter option is historically ingrained and it allows brand legitimacy to be established. But today, it is engagement that becomes the main challenge –moreover, platforms are constantly improved to favour it. Once you have set yourself a goal for engagement or ROI, it is better to work closely with micro-influencers, who are involved and relevant, even those with ‘only’ 3,000 to 5,000 followers. Legitimacy is key. A macro-influencer like Bixente Lizarazu, for example, could also be considered a micro-influencer for cycling, which he is a huge fan of!

An article by Ludovic Chevallier, Head of Havas Paris Social.

 

“Be a fan of your fans by making them heroes of your story.”

Mark Schaefer, author of Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins


Your Guide to build an efficient patient-oriented strategy at a
global scale

In a context fueled by digital disruption and global acceleration, healthcare companies must design a new framework to better provide a seamless, constistent care accross all moment and all frontiers Through this white paper, Webhelp Medica reveals its best practices and learnings based on more than 20 years of expertise. Mixing feedbacks, testimonials and regulatory analyses, here are the keys to a winning strategy.

Read the Whitepaper Here

Content Moderation - why every boomtown needs a sheriff!

As online engagement will be the next boomtown for customer experience, Andrew Hall, Director of Strategic Engagements, Webhelp UK region, looks at the future of this new frontier and how content moderation will be critical to protect brands and users.

Andrew Hall - content moderation boomtown - Twitter

Back in 1996, when the internet and social media as we know it now was pure science fiction, Bill Gates wrote a pivotal essay entitled ‘Content is King’ saying:

“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.” And he realised the new freedom for self-expression that this would provide by adding; “One of the most exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create.”[1]

Fast forward to today, and across every conceivable social platform, the internet is now heaving with content marketing – from thought leadership, brand videos, sponsorship, influencer tie-ins and stories promoting everything from consumer goods to dating services.

And, accelerated by the physical limitations introduced by COVID-19, this new digital frontier is still growing. In the UK for example, in June 2020 Ofcom reported a substantial rise in the incidence of social media accounts on platforms like WhatsApp (70%, up from 61% in 2018), Instagram (43%, up from 38% in 2018), and YouTube (42%, up from 35% in 2018).[2]

And although the shadow cast by the mountain of Facebook (forecast to hit 1.7 billion users worldwide by the close of 2020) continues to dominate this landscape, it now shares engagement time with multiple platforms.

So, it’s clear that navigating this expanding territory could be a rough ride for many companies, with this gold-rush of new users, bringing fresh disruptions and challenges.

We know that it is vitally important to reach your customers where there are most active, and as McKinsey reports, that is now online:

“Demand patterns have shifted. Overall online penetration in China increased by 15–20 percent. In Italy, e-commerce sales for consumer products rose by 81 percent in a single week, creating significant supply-chain bottlenecks. Customers need digital, at-home, and low-touch options. Digital-led experiences will continue to grow in popularity once the coronavirus is quelled, and companies that act quickly and innovate in their delivery model to help consumers navigate the pandemic safely and effectively will establish a strong advantage.”[3]

It’s clear that any new delivery model must include Content Moderation, and as digital-experiences assume more importance in our lives, user-generated content (UGC) will undoubtedly continue to grow in impact and variety.

In simple terms, content moderation helps companies monitor, analyse and respond to UGC including comments, reviews, videos, social media posts or forum discussions, using predefined criteria and legal boundaries to establish suitability for publication.

As Webhelp Group Senior Director of Content Management and Moderation Solutions, Chloé de Mont-Serrat, explains:

“Leveraging user-generated content is fast becoming a powerful and flexible tool to raise brand recognition and enhance customer trust, especially in the booming e-commerce industry. Consumer content is instrumental in influencing both purchase decision making and in the uptake, visibility and popularity of brands online.”

“However, despite these benefits, utilising externally produced content is not without risk, especially for companies that are unaware of the detrimental impact this can have on the user perspective of the brand if not properly managed.”

Source: Content Moderation for Dating Applications

And the danger is that, when left unmanaged UGC can permanently damage brand reputation and revenues, leaving the barn door open for harmful content like flame wars, online abuse, mounting customer complaints, unsuitable imagery, fake news, fraud and cyber bulling. Not to mention clearing the field for automated spam content, troll farms and false reviews. 

Controlling and making the most of this vitally important demographic is where, much like a local sheriff looking after the townsfolk and wellbeing of the community, content moderation becomes key to creating healthy, responsive two-way engagement that benefits the brand and protects all the users.

The research article ‘Re-humanizing the platform: Content moderators and the logic of care’ describes content moderators as;

“The hidden custodians of platforms, the unseen and silent guardians who maintain order and safety by overseeing visual and textual user-generated content.”[4]

The report highlights, as we believe at Webhelp, that thinking human and maintaining empathy and insight, should be a critical and creative factor in current and future platform arrangements.

Webhelp’s recent research paper Reimagining Service for the New World a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, spotlights the tensions and challenges between the need to be simultaneously both more digital and more human. As companies are increasingly being tasked to deliver seamless, technology-enabled, and experience-led service across multiple channels, while demonstrating transparency and creating genuine and deep emotional connections with customers.

And, with 78% of leaders agreeing that customers will be paying much closer attention to their business practices, maintaining a human face online, especially in reacting to confrontational or illegal content, will become more important than ever.

At Webhelp we are passionate about supporting our clients through their content moderation challenges, and have guided them through a range of topics; such as identifying under-age members, inappropriate images, tackling online harassment and preventing accounts being used as a platform for illegal activity such as scams and fraud.

We protect brand reputation and enhance user experience, mobilising effective and skilled teams with specific sector experience. They utilise both their human judgement and cutting edge analytical services to effectively police and nurture online communities, providing growth for the brand and safety for the user.

Later blogs will focus on specific industry moderation pain points and the best ways to correct them, but for now we leave you with this thought;

“There’s a new sheriff in town – and they’re called called Webhelp!”

 

To discover more about customer experience 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. Or read our new paper exploring the Content Moderation pain points in the Dating application sector and the way towards a more comprehensive and game changing solution.


Recommerce

Recommerce on the surge: Why second-hand stores are booming

Why is recommerce on the rise? and why are marketplaces such as VINTED, thredUP or Poshmark thriving in this business model? Is it just trendy, cost effective, sustainable or a mix of all these that explains the current surge? Tomorrow’s personalization and customer journeys are expected to be even smarter, more immersive, more trust-enabling than they are today. The question is: Are brands and consumers ready? Here is an analysis from Olivier Carrot, Global Business Unit Direct, Retail & E-commerce.

Recommerce - Olivier Carrot

So which are some of the factors that have contributed to this increase?

  • Rise in the use of mobile devices. The accessibility of mobile devices globally has essentially contributed to the growth of e-commerce thanks to the increased reach which has consequently increased the sales. According to Aaron Orendorff – Forbes Top 10 B2B Content Marketer, e-commerce has helped businesses launch beyond borders reaching out to millions of new potential customers. By 2023, an increase of 276.9% in the total global sales in retail is projected with APAC taking the lead (source: shopify.com).
    The easy accessibility of mobile phones and internet has definitely elevated the demand of recommerce as a service. This surge has seen many start- ups joining the bandwagon to not only meet the growing demand but also to take advantage of the efficiency and scalability that marketplaces provide.
    Through the creation of an application that links second-hand products to customers, VINTED has grown from being owned by its two co-founders Milda and Justas to an organization that employs more than 450 people and unites a community of 25 million people.
  • Personalized customer experiences. In reference to platforms like VINTED, personalized services that match customers preferences are highly sought after. Customers want to feel valued and there is no better way than to offer a personalized experience. Even though many consumers are in search of products being offered at discounted or affordable prices, they will not compromise on the experience. Brands are thus competing not only on price but also on offering the most memorable experience to their customers.
  • Old is new again. Founded in 2009 as a swapping company for men’s shirts’ thredUP is a huge consumer marketplace that flaunts over 35,000 brands. In one of his keynotes, CEO and co-founder James Reinhart forecasts sales of upto $51 billion from the second-hand apparel market by 2023 (source yahoo.com)
    In reality, people buy twice as many clothes and wear them half as long. If one can buy a branded item for half the price of the new, why not? There is a growing trend to transform consumption through reuse. And so as to keep up with the changing environment in the retail industry, integrating a resale option in traditional retail outlets is seen to boost the overall sales. Customers are sparked to spend 21% more and visit 70% more frequently. James attributes the massive increase in the visiting percentage to the fact that second hand collection is restocked every two weeks whereas in the traditional format, new collection arrives between four to six times a year (source: www.thredup.com)
  • Cost friendly. Pocket friendly purchases is a big driver in the recommerce boom. Customers are increasingly seeing the value in buying recycled brand-name products for huge discounts. “Recommerce has seen a tremendous upsurge” says Steven Bethell, founder of Bank & Vogue – a firm that specializes in the logistics of selling used goods and operates a sister company called Beyond Retro. Prior to making a purchase, many shoppers aquent themselves with the resale possibilities of items they wish to buy with the plan to resell them in the near future. The retail industry is seeing a continued shift with the majority of consumers shopping smarter.
  • Sustainability. The new affluent generations like the Gen Z are more environmental and social conscious and as such, they expect brands to be more ethical and sustainable in their production processes. Fashion brands that have this audience as their customer base, are obliged to revamp their business models to be able to not only attract but most definitely also retain this segment.
    VINTED is one such brand. By investing on its brand ethos which is providing a platform for purchasing and selling of second-hand clothes. These clothes reduce the environmental impact of Co2 levels that are usually released in the production of new clothes (think water, chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides). In addition, it prolongs the shelf life of clothes that would otherwise head to the dumping sites in one or two years. It’s estimated that 600 kilograms of used clothes would lead to a reduction of 2250 kilograms of Co2 emissions, 3.6 billion liters of water saved, and 144 trees planted. (www.smartgreenpost.com).

At Webhelp, our clients are at the heart and our core objective is to ensure that their customers experience world class service in every touchpoint. The creation and upholding of a sustainable environment also go hand in hand with what our company stands for.

In our endeavor to always provide seamless interactions, we go the extra mile to guarantee that customers’ needs are met. We focus on making the purchase process in the marketplaces as simple and fulfilling as possible 

Our flawless and memorable customer journey from order management to returns and replacements is swiftly executed with our dedicated service specialist who are located globally in the different hubs. 

And thanks to the booming second-hand industry, content management and moderation is also on high demand. Ever thought of outsourcing your content moderation? Our highly experienced offshore content moderators ensure that our clients’ brands are duly protected across their target audience. We support our clients’ to not only maintain their brand integrity, but also to shield their customers from inappropriate, aggressive or illegal content.  

Are you looking for an experienced partner who will help you take your marketplace to the next level? Get in touch to receive your tailormade solution: Olivier Carrot.


Taking a human centred approach to cyber security

In response to the evolving cyber challenge in the post-COVID-19 landscape, Here James Allen, Chief Risk & Technology Officer for the Webhelp UK Region, considers the way that risk in customer service has evolved and reveals the steps Webhelp has taken to protect its clients and people, with a human centred approach to cyber security.

The humanitarian crisis brought by COVID-19 undoubtedly caused rapid and universal disruption to businesses across the global stage; impacting economies, and leaving some companies struggling to maintain business continuity, whilst increasingly vulnerable to unscrupulous cyber criminals.

In fact, the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime division has reported evidence of a substantial rise in malicious activity (specific to the topic of COVID-19) in areas like phishing, malware, ransomware, infrastructure attacks, targeting teleworking employees to gain system access, fraud schemes (fake medicines and goods), misinformation and fake news.

In July, Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, published that victims had already lost over £11 million to COVID-19 related scams.

Consequently, the pandemic has put an intense spotlight on personal cyber practices, especially as working from home (without proper measures) can create more risk than the traditional controlled office environment. Similarly, Tech Republic reported that, from phishing attacks to malware, 71% of security professionals have been recording increased security threats or attacks since the COVID-19 outbreak, and as a result many countries and companies have been spurred into rapid action.

In the UK more than 80 coronavirus-related phishing and scam websites were taken down in just one day after the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) asked for the public to report suspicious emails. Existing takedown services, in one month alone, removed more than 2,000 online scams related to coronavirus, including 471 fake online shops, 555 malware distribution sites, 200 phishing sites and 832 advance-fee frauds. NCSC chief executive officer Ciaran Martin believes that the rise in technology use is making online safety more critical, saying:

 “Technology is helping us cope with the coronavirus crisis and will play a role helping us out of it – but that means cybersecurity is more important than ever,”   Source: Zdnet.com

 And, according to PWC, 80% of UK CEOs are concerned about the risk of cyber threats to their business, it is the issue they are most worried about, above skills (79%) and the speed of technological change (75%).

Revealingly, just under half of UK CEOs (48.4%) have taken some action regarding their own personal digital behaviour, including deleting social media or requesting a company to delete their data.

This is a worrying trend, which was noticeable even prior to the current crisis, as (according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) 2019 saw a 350% increase in ransomware attacks, a 250% increase in spoofing or business email compromise (BEC) attacks and a 70% increase in spear-phishing attacks in companies overall.

Furthermore, the average cost of a cyber-data breach rose from $4.9 million in 2017 to $7.5 million in 2018. Likewise, worldwide spending on cyber security increased by over 20% during 2017-2019 ($101Bn – $124Bn) and inevitably these costs will continue to rise, but without addressing the human behaviours contributing to this trend, much of this investment could be wasted.

And behaviour change is the key, as research firm Proofpoint revealed that a staggering 99% of threats observed relied on human interaction like enabling a macro, opening a file, following a link, or opening a document – highlighting the role of social engineering in enabling successful attacks, and the importance of knowledge as the top factor for prevention.

A recent FirstData study revealed that 60% of individuals are currently concerned about online security, and feel the need to do more to protect themselves. But information on how to do this is clearly absent, as over a quarter of those asked were entirely uninformed about the subject.

We know that the pandemic has led to record numbers of individuals now working from home – often without prior knowledge and experience of safe remote working practices and the potential security risks.  And, this situation is complicated by the fact that too often companies publish complex security policies, which are difficult to understand for the regular user.

As a people-first company, Webhelp is committed to a human centred approach to Cyber Security, aiming to provide all our people with the essential skills to keep them and their families safe online.

From the start it was clear that education was critical to delivering this goal. We recognised a need for clear and simple guidelines, put forward in an engaging and easy to follow manner, to help employees gain insight and confidence in recognising and protecting themselves against potential scams and take action when approaching cyber security.

So, in 2020 we launched our Cyber Super Heroes Campaign, designed to make complex security advice simple and accessible to all colleagues. This campaign talked to these issues in a humorous yet informative voice, and our activity has accelerated to support our colleagues through a time when cyber threats were increasing.

Focusing on a different topic every fortnight, guidance has been delivered across multiple channels including on site, email, social media, the employee intranet, desktops and screen savers and by using digital animations and posters.

Our people were also given the opportunity to get involved by becoming a Webhelp Cyber Superhero, through signing up for in-depth additional information to better champion the cause to their teammates and families.

The campaign has covered a full spectrum of cyber security topics including:

  • Phishing
  • Safe Passwords
  • Physical Security, both at work and at home
  • Keeping safe online
  • Social Engineering
  • Malware
  • Social Media
  • Keeping kids safe online
  • Safe Online Banking
  • Keeping your devices secure when you’re out and about
  • Cookies

Finally, to add a truly human face to our campaign, personal stories from volunteers in our business were shared. Colleagues were extremely keen to highlight their experiences and offered heartfelt advice to their colleagues, with the goal of really delivering a relatable message that Cyber scams can and do happen, and that together we can make our online activity safer, both in our workplaces and in our homes.

However, the work doesn’t stop there as Head of Cyber & Privacy for Webhelp UK Region, Chris Underhill, explains:

“The cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving, requiring businesses to monitor threats, adapt to change and deal with incidents swiftly. As part of my new role in Webhelp, I will be supporting our international teams and clients with cutting edge cyber intelligence, training, technology and consultancy services that not only help secure organisations against a growing number of threats but also to provide professional, certified level assurance to help secure business as usual against a backdrop of regulation, uncertain times and new working conditions.

 It’s clear that threats facing businesses extend well beyond the network perimeter and a move towards a new ‘human centric’ approach to cyber security is required to protect critical assets from compromise. Webhelp are committed to supporting our teams and clients using the very best in technology and educational programmes that will provide a robust suite of solutions across industry.”

Agility and innovation in risk has been crucial to managing the pace of change during the pandemic, so despite the challenges brought by COVID, fear must not stand in the way of progress. This is something that will be explored further in a forthcoming blog for the #servicereimagined series.

 

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.