digital dealerships in the automotive industry

Why car manufacturers need digital dealerships, not call centers

digital dealerships in the automotive industry

Automotive can be an enigmatic industry. World-leading in terms of product design, technology, and innovation – yet one of the last sectors to embrace digital to fully support their customers.

Almost all consumers will visit a manufacturer’s website at some stage when looking to buy a new car, but only a fraction will complete a purchase there. Most complete their journey elsewhere – either with competitors or offline in dealerships.

Yet around 60% of all new car buyers said buying online is appealing and they would do far more via digital channels, if it were possible. This includes tasks which traditionally were only carried out in dealerships, such as understanding jargon and technical details, comparing models according to personal criteria, deciding which to buy, finding deals, calculating budgetary factors, comparing insurance and service packages, agreeing the final price of the new car and trade-in, and checking their eligibility for finance.

Almost one third (29%) of people would be happy to self-serve online; and the same percentage again said they would need the reassurances and interactions that only humans can provide.

The only way to reach the second group is to replicate online, the same high standard of specialist product and financing expertise that previously customers only received at a physical showroom.

Building “Digital Dealerships” represents a massive opportunity for automotive brands to provide what almost a third of their potential customers want in terms of a digital experience. While massively improving experiences for everyone and driving higher conversion rates and sales online and offline, “Digital Dealerships” will also gradually increase direct relationships with their customers.

But it’s a difficult journey.

For years, brands have asked outsourcing providers to deliver call centers for essential customer services at scale across multiple regions, based mainly on securing the most competitive cost. To support the adoption of ecommerce, massively accelerated by COVID, manufacturers deployed chatbots and live chats, which were staffed by traditional customer-service agents, trained to capture contact details and find the nearest dealership. Today this results in frustrating and unproductive customer journeys and is no longer enough.

So how can manufacturers build their “Digital Dealerships”?

Build digital dealerships in-house

Some manufacturers created in-house teams capable of successfully supporting their ecommerce operations in a pilot market or two.

But they’ve found that replicating and scaling home-grown sales teams from a pilot country to multiple brands, markets and languages requires so much more time and money, that this approach is no longer viable.

At some point, manufacturers will find that outsourcing operations is the only realistic and scalable option available.

Outsource delivery to a specialized provider

Delivering a Digital Dealership is hard.

Half of the success is in developing the perfect mix of the right people with the right skills and training, data and insights, processes and supporting technologies.

The second half lies in successfully integrating it into manufacturers’ businesses and operations.

This makes it more of a journey than an ‘out of the box’ solution.

As a car manufacturer, your journey should start with finding a partner that brings the right mindset, people, insights, processes, and technology mix to the party – who won’t try to learn it all on your payroll.

To ensure that, we recommend you ask prospective suppliers the following questions:

  • What framework do you have to identify our maturity and current gaps, plan the journey, and manage its progress?
  • What soft and hard skills are the agents selected on, and what automotive-specific sales and product training should they undergo?
  • Would you have your agents undergo the same ongoing e-learning training and regular exams as my dealers?
  • Are your agents FCA (or equivalent) certified and trained to advise and sell finance and insurance products?
  • How incentivized are they to sell, remain and grow?
  • What processes, data, and insights do they use to improve customer experience and sales performance?
  • Do your agents use scripts? How prescriptive they are, and how often are these evaluated and optimized?
  • What languages, operating hours and peaks can the teams cover and absorb? Do they work from the office, remotely, or both?
  • What internal technologies do they use to access and maintain knowledge, learn, test, evaluate, and improve?

These answers will enable you to create a genuine digital dealership, and not a generalist customer support center.

If you need help or want to learn more about our journey and Digital Dealerships, get in touch.

About the author

Tomas Honz is Group Head of Solutions for Automotive and Mobility at Webhelp. He has over 20 years’ experience helping leading car manufacturers and retailers to maximize their use of online through innovations, best-practice customer experiences and deployment of people, processes, and technologies.

Tomas Honz

Webhelp Launches New Solutions for the Automotive Sector

Paris, France – 21, February 2022 – Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience and business solutions, has launched three automotive-specific services to support the industry’s innovation and growth.

The roll-out builds upon Webhelp’s 20+ years of global experience providing customer experience and sales-oriented services to 1,300 customers, including key players in the automotive and mobility sector.

New products include:

  • Automotive contact centers – Multilingual teams of specialist automotive experts deliver ‘next-generation’ customer service for omnichannel customers, combining industry-leading product knowledge with advanced technologies, operating practices and data analysis tailored to meet automotive companies’ specific needs.
  • Digital dealerships – Specially-trained automotive experts operate online sales channels on behalf of automotive brands, combining expert product knowledge with the highest level of customer service. It’s the industry’s way of nurturing direct relationships with customers, many of whom expect to buy online.
  • Offline experiences and deliveries – Dedicated teams organize the offline experiences and car deliveries which remain critical for the delivery of a complete omnichannel experience.

Carole Rousseau, Business Unit Director for Automotive & Mobility at Webhelp France, and responsible for key clients such as Stellantis and VW, said:

“This is a pivotal time for the automotive industry as brands manage unprecedented change across consumer behavior, legislation, standards, and operations; all while trying to safeguard squeezed margins and profits.

“We believe that the ability to provide next-generation customer experiences will soon define ‘winners and losers’ within automotive and have invested heavily in the sector, including the recent recruitment of senior hires.”

To support the launch of the new services, Webhelp has appointed two senior experts, who bring over 40 years’ collective experience helping leading retailers and car manufacturers to drive omnichannel sales, digitize products and services, and maximize eCommerce opportunities, all around the omnichannel needs of modern car buyers.

Tony Patterson, the Group Business Development Director for Automotive & Mobility, added:

“We provide automotive brands with the ability to future proof their businesses; developing the capabilities to support customers adopting new products and services and new ways to consume the products. We see enormous potential for the automotive sector to realize significant value and benefits in terms of agility and flexibility through our “best-shoring” approach, complemented by multilingual hubs to meet the resource centralization needs of clients. We are optimizing customer service today and establishing new sales channels ready for tomorrow, all while balancing operational costs and risks.”

Tomas Honz, the new Group Head of Solutions for Automotive & Mobility, led the development of this new proposition, which comprises bespoke tools and models, designed to help clients respond to the omnichannel needs of customers and build teams of the right people in the right place, supported by the latest technology and use of best practices from retail to leverage data and insights.

With key people, technologies, and infrastructure in place, Webhelp is ready to deliver next-level services for automotive which maximize time, cost savings, and become a partner of choice to support growth at a pivotal time within the industry.

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How to maneuver ahead to meet new customer needs

Automotive: 3 tips to meet new customer needs

2020 became the year of digital acceleration – to strengthen the connection with consumers, digital transformation is a must for the automotive industry.

The road may be circuitous depending on maturity, but implementation of the right tools and a strong customer-focused strategy will support in maneuvering ahead.

To assess this maturity and support you in this transformation, Julie Bouis, Sales Director for Webhelp’s Automotive and Mobility BU shares some insights and advice.

  1. Automotive sales and after-sales: new challenges and customer needs

There is no doubt about it, the automotive sales and service environment has changed markedly over the last few years, long before the 2020 health crisis.

At national and international levels, we noticed:

  • Significant shifts in customer loyalty to manufacturers and their owned cars
  • Demand for digital services increasingly diversified and more personalized offers
  • Stricter environmental and safety regulations

New industry challenges are emerging in the automotive industry. Customers’ expectations are increasingly pressing, requesting for greater personalization, immediacy, choice, connectivity, as well as more security and reassurance.

To differentiate, interactions must be customized to the needs of customers, while considering these new industry challenges.

  1. 2020, accelerator of the CX digitalization in the automotive sector

These challenges – combined with 2020’s events drove businesses to adapt customer journeys to maintain contact with prospects and customers.

Depending on the company – and its level of digital maturity – this adaptation resulted in:

    • Implementing 100% digital or online journeys
    • Setting up digital showrooms
    • Creating or participating to 100% digital car shows
    • Introducing e-advisors or e-salespeople
    • Starting or consolidating a remote diagnosis service (video)
    • Contactless terminals installation

In many cases, these solutions have been an emergency reaction: they need to be re-evaluated internally to stabilize or improve the new model and make it efficient and sustainable.

The booster effect of digital transformation from 2020 events has significantly impacted customer relationships in the automotive sector: these technical evolutions now require internal modifications to be fully integrated.

  1. Automotive sales and after-sales: new models focusing on new customer needs

Digitization has embraced emerging needs for customer interactions management, but at the same time it has revealed many barriers to transformation.

Let’s take the example of creating e-salespeople teams to sell vehicles 100% online – the preferred solution for many players: Automotive distance selling framework: building a successful sales strategy.

This solution requires to overcome the barriers of tools technical complexity – in order to promote information sharing, data analysis, and personalization of the offer (sales and after-sales).

To adopt this strategy, you will need to carefully assess the competitiveness concern evaluating competition between dealerships and online sales in order to shape the solution according to the customer’s needs.

  1. Diversify contact channels and redesign customer journey

With customization offers, it should be noted that a digital transformation cannot be implemented without a solid CRM solution: this is the cornerstone that will enable you to collect and analyze the data of your prospects and future customers.

A CRM solution can provide real data based on the identified customer needs to proceed efficiently and effectively.

To establish satisfactory contact with your customers and prospects, consider multiplying your contact channels: from the most common channels (telephone, email, chat, social networks), to the most innovative (bot, video chat, WhatsApp, Messenger).

Let’s take the example of video chat. According to our research conducted by OnePoll  in July 2020 in France, the UK and Germany:

  • 12% of customers interacted with a brand via video chat for the first time during the Covid crisis
  • 20% of video chat users are now using it more often
  • 27% might switch to a competitor providing video as a contact channel: that’s more than a quarter of the respondents.

In a comprehensive way, it is recommended to redesign your customer journey to offer an enhanced experience, by offering new services to your customers, such as

  • Communities of experts
  • Selfcare tools
  • Luxury concierge service, etc.

These new services will enable you to adapt to your customers’ expectations, reinforce the quality of service and improve your economic performance.

5. Accelerate your digital transformation

Our 3 tips to help you move forward quickly:

    1. Assess your customer relationships and contact centers: the objective is to measure the performance of your organization (benchmark of best practices), in an unprecedented context of uncertainty.
    2. Identify the ways to improve your customer experience, also the internal constraints that slow down your digital transformation.
    3. Consider outsourcing, on a one-off or partial basis: set ambitious budget and commercial performance objectives -see the article Automotive distance selling framework: building a successful sales strategy.

Have you implemented any of these points, or considering how? We can support you in planning your digital transformation and redesigning your customer journey, from sales to after-sales service.

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Automotive distance selling framework: building a successful sales strategy

Webhelp sector experts Carole Rousseau, Business Unit Director Travel, Leisure, Automotive & Mobility, and Stéphane Chavatte, Account Director, share their insights into the current traction automotive distance selling is gaining in France.

What is the current performance of outsourced automotive online sales?

Webhelp’s observation is in a distance selling framework, the average monthly turnover exceeds €400k per advisor. Admittedly, this figure benefited slightly from a “Covid effect” but we are making this observation with a decline of several years.

We now have 7 years of experience in automotive distance selling, in which we have reached a certain maturity. We have developed operational intelligence and best practices to achieve a successful sales model that is part of a triple win logic: our client, ourselves, but above all, the sales advisors.

These sales advisors who manage to sell 1.5 vehicles every day, on average – which is beyond the sales figure of a salesperson in an agency.

Provided that a satisfactory customer experience is put in place, and in particular a perfect fluidity between the online sales site and the call center agents, these performances lead us to believe that automotive VAD has found a promising outsourcing model, which we must now take advantage of.

What sales services can be outsourced in this way?

Webhelp supports a multitude of players in the automotive and mobility sector: large manufacturers, players in new markets, or operators of new mobility via our two major automotive hubs based in Vitré in France and Braga in Portugal.

Our services cover the sale of new, 0km vehicles, and used vehicles online; considering the range of existing financing services using inbound calls, leads (hot and nursing), and portfolio management.

The placement of financing products is becoming increasingly important in the sale of vehicles. Our teams have successfully built confidence in sales with considerable finance turnover rates.

What are the new challenges of automotive VAD?

To summarize, I would cite 3 trends that support the development of automotive distance selling:

  1. The arrival of intermediaries to historic manufacturers agents: who offer used, new and 0 kilometer vehicles. These agents need to equip themselves with a network that allows them to cover the whole country for logistics purposes, while the historic players need to rationalize their distribution network, often colossal, to remain competitive.
  2. The explosion of shared mobility and alternative modes: leasing, rental, valet services, alternative means of transport (Blablacar, Uber, Lime, etc.). The automobile is in the process of leaving the ‘owner’ model, especially for the younger generations.
  3. The shift towards online automotive sales: for example, a large national manufacturer which has recently entrusted us with developing the performance of its online sales site. In consultation with our teams, improvements and technological bricks will be added to increase traffic on their site, optimize the customer journey and increase the conversion rate.


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.


How AI and data analytics can support vulnerable customers

Well before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the identification and protection of vulnerable customers was a significant focus for companies and regulators. Here James Allen, Chief Risk & Technology Officer for Webelp UK Group looks at the impact it will have, now and in the future.

In these testing times, the identification and protection of vulnerable customers will now assume even more importance as organisations work on proactively recognising customers who need assistance, prior to the predicted surge in demand for financial support - as aids like employee furloughs, payment holidays and credit schemes end.

Worryingly, prior to the outbreak over half of the UK population were already financially vulnerable, with one in six people unable to cope with a £50 increase in monthly bills, according to a survey of Britain’s personal finances by the City regulator. The Financial Conduct Authority’s biggest ever survey of households found that 4.1 million people are already in serious financial difficulty, falling behind with bills and credit card payments, with 25- to 34-year-olds the most over-indebted.

Furthermore, 50% of adults (over 25.6 million people) “display one or more characteristics that signal their potential vulnerability” and just under 8 million are over-indebted.

And this is not limited to the UK, as the 2019 Prosperity Now Scorecard finds that forty percent of American households lack a basic level of savings and don’t have enough savings to make ends meet at the poverty level for three months if their income was interrupted. Almost half (48.1%) of Americans with credit had scores below prime and 20% of households had no credit in the past 12 months and were likely to be without access to it.

Furthermore, a report from the ING Group states that southern European economies like Italy and Spain are especially vulnerable to the economic effects of COVID, exacerbated by the importance of tourism which accounts for at least 13% of GDP and about 15% of total employment. They also have a larger share of vulnerable workers and a higher chance of bankruptcies due to firm size.

However, throughout all this we must remember that vulnerability can be a temporary and fluctuating status, with many causes, including mental health, dementia, changes in employment and personal circumstances, literacy, numeracy and socioeconomic factors.  It is key to use technology to help people on an individual basis, never forgetting that unique set of circumstances they may be experiencing.

Plus, regulators will be keeping a close eye on these new developments, and the pressure may soon be on firms to use all available routes to safeguard customers and prevent the global financial crisis from deepening.

So the question for many global companies has become, in the post COVID world, how do we identify and support customers who are financially vulnerable, without compromising operational efficiency?

And this is especially important for us at Webhelp, as we carry a people-first commitment and our think human value through to the customer base of over 32 clients in the UK, India and South Africa.

It’s clear that data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI) is already changing the way that companies offer support to their most vulnerable customers, and that this may play a part in reshaping the regulatory landscape. While establishing if someone is vulnerable and how best to support them is a very human judgment, at Webhelp we believe that sensitive and careful use of data, using AI to segment, can help direct the right customer support teams to the right people, spotting potential issues before they become a problem.

We combine the very best in technology and skilled people to create the best outcomes, as Chris Bryson, Webhelp Global Data & Analytics Director explains:

“We’re helping clients leave no stone unturned to reveal customer vulnerability. Whether customers tell us directly that they’re experiencing issues, or if they show characteristics of someone who can be vulnerable; using analytics from customer contacts and records helps us and our clients see those signals clearly.

We use our own unique speech and text analytics engine, which is applied to advisor and automated customer conversations. The resulting Voice of the Customer analytics drives constant improvements in the way we measure quality and enhances the overall customer experience.

As a result, we can help our clients to spot vulnerable customers who would otherwise slip through the net. At the heart, it’s about helping our advisors to better support that customer, and working with our clients to ensure they are recognising these signs of vulnerability.”

By using this insight, and access to the best analytical technology, and to the right people to put this in action for the greater good, we can confidently move forwards and create a better financial environment for both clients and customers 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.                                        This aims to address these crucial questions and is underpinned by our unique industry perspective alongside new research to discover the operating models of the future.

 

 

 


How AI is changing the retail experience

As part of our #servicereimagined series, Helen Murray, Chief Customer Solutions Officer for the UK Region, looks at how Artificial Intelligence is influencing the retail sector, how it is being used to leverage new customer service models and why brands must evolve to embrace this unstoppable wave, or risk falling behind the curve.

Whilst I love a good movie, the fictional relationship with Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not a happy one – and almost universally results in a troubled experience for the human! The silver screen, and latterly the internet, often warns of the dangers of pitting man against machine, but in reality AI has seamlessly, quietly and unobtrusively embedded itself into our daily lives.

AI shares our homes, guides us when we travel, takes our selfie when we socialise and influences our retail and leisure activities, and it may well have become the most indispensable tool of the 21st century.

Beyond the media tropes, today AI is firmly focused on problem solving, by making millions of decisions at a basic level without human intervention. Machine learning allows processes to adjust to new inputs, and avoid pitfalls based on experience. Essentially it uses multi-layered data analysis to predict patterns and, in some cases, to uncover and direct customer behaviours.

It is much simpler, more benign and much, much more useful to business than its movie counterpart.

Dave Pattman, Director of CX Services at Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group, sheds some light on this when he says;

“Whilst AI is everywhere, most experts agree that business is currently using the narrowest point in the definition, by enhancing brand delivery with mathematics, statistics, machine learning, deep learning and big data. However, even in its simplest form AI is making a radical difference, and is visually in our daily lives in our smart home device functions, autonomous vehicles and predictive text.”

 “AI solutions are being developed in a broad range of sectors, and will inevitably be used for common business tasks like auto classification and recommendation services, which will streamline operations and drive revenue. However, the real benefit will come to those business that combine next level AI technology with the right skilled personnel – and use this to stimulate and track consumer emotions!”

But what does AI mean for retailers?

Both physical and virtual retailers could see a benefit of integrating AI into their processes, to improve task management and customer insight. As we reported in our blog on the future of retail post COVID-19, shoppers will be looking for a more experiential real journey, and traditional brick and mortar enterprises will have to work harder to compete. As the storefront.com magazine reports:

“Brands need to reimagine the total in-store experience, and technology is key. In-store technologies must be able to solve business processes and incorporate planning and strategy, rather than just implementing flashy, PR-driven technology. It’s crucial that retailers effectively merge technology and function, which is why AI is at the forefront of in-store tech.”

However, I believe that it is in customer service management where AI has the most significant potential for change, gathering detailed customer patterns and preferences, capturing both short term consumer market fluctuations and informing longer term business planning.

As AI grows more and more prevalent, at Webhelp we are also exploring language processing for the purposes of automation, as Chris Bryson, Webhelp Global Data & Analytics Director explains:

“The direct interaction between customer and machine is allowing us to analyse conversations, at scale, and to make recommendations. We have developed own speech and text analytics engine, which we apply to agent and automated customer conversations.

At Webhelp, this is deployed to drive efficiency in our measurement of quality and to create CX improvements through actionable Voice of The Customer analytics”

When intelligent algorithms are used to process customer and sales data, there is a wealth of actionable and valuable information to be discovered. Intelligent chat bots, voice analytics and word recognition are also changing the game for retail customer service. And, as David Turner, Webhelp CEO for the UK region, Webhelp are at the forefront:

“We have already made significant investments in our digital and automation capabilities to help clients improve customer experience and reduce costs using digital self-service, and leverage technologies such as chatbots to reduce volumes of non-complex and low value interactions. At the same time, we are identifying where human support adds value to digital experiences. Providing guidance and support to customers during high value, complex and emotionally important journeys.”

These technologies are unavoidable, and brands must learn how best to use them to their advantage, as Craig Gibson Chief Commercial Officer Webhelp UK recognises:

“As the urgency for change and transformation intensifies in the post COVID landscape, some pivotal questions will be raised: How different will service look and feel in the future? How will businesses and their operations need to adapt? And how can employers engage and support their colleagues to deliver on new customer promises?”

To discover more about how to leverage customer service models in this new world, I would suggest that you read our new Whitepaper, a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, on Reimagining service for the new world, which aims to address these crucial questions and is underpinned by our unique industry perspective alongside new research to discover the operating models of the future.


Demand Marketing guides salespeople to the best business opportunities

(Article published initially in French in Actionco.fr)

Selling is hard. More than ever, marketing-commerce congruence is essential to accelerate growth by generating higher value qualified leads. 

While the first two thirds of the B2B customer journey is now in digital form, "it is essential to stimulate the customer as soon as he prepares to make a purchasealone, online, to help the business to make this purchase intention a reality", underlines Alexandre Barthel, Marketing Director at Webhelp Enterprise. 

From data to information, from information to action 

Demand Marketing is above all based on data: "The ability to collect data to extract information is crucial to understand your audience and address them in a personalized way, the antipodes of the "’mass’ Direct Marketing actions of 20 years ago". It is now a multitude of highly targeted marketing campaigns that delivers value and feeds Lead Scoring. This method consists of allocating points according to behaviour within a digital path: opening an e-mail, clickingvisiting a site, etc., in order to produce a ranking reflecting the prospect's interest in the commercial offer and his propensity to buy. The objective is to guide the sales force in priority towards these opportunitiesReinforced by automation, Demand Marketing plays a major role more than ever in generating leads, in a daily life without trade shows or even face-to-face meetings. 

Key figures  

 - Between 27% and 40%: this is the average contribution of marketing to turnover (source: Markletic March 2020) 

 - 69%: this is the share of companies that make the generation of qualified leads their top priority for 2020 (source: Hubspot) 

Predicting buying behaviour 

Beyond the essential work of segmentation, marketers are sometimes helped by data scientists to create predictive models: "it is a question of anticipating the need, in order to take proactive action, for example to retain a subscriber for whom signals of risk of termination have been detected"These models are now reinforced by web listening’ techniques, which consist of analysing online interactions to detect purchase intentions. The retailer can then propose an adapted offer, but "it goes without saying that the posture towards the customer, in particular the tone of the message, must be benevolent enough to be perceived positively," notes Alexandre Barthel 

 Social Selling completes the generation of demand  

 Demand Marketing is extended by an individual approach with Social Selling. The modern seller appropriates the brand's marketing content to share it with his ecosystem on social networks. Here again, the goal is to generate business. "This mastery of social selling has become the standard in sales to accurately identify and contact decision-makers. In addition to generating business opportunitiesthis approach enhances the expertise of the sales representativewho makes a commitment on behalf of the brand to a wide audience," says Alexandre Barthel. 

Would you like an audit of your sales model and evaluate the value of marketing campaigns to feed your sales force? Get in touch with specialists.  

 


Whitepaper launch: Reimagining service for the new world

As the urgency for change and transformation intensifies in the post COVID landscape, Craig Gibson CCO for Webhelp UK, shares his thoughts on the launch of a new Whitepaper, a collaboration with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group. 

At Webhelp, we have a commitment to use customer experience management to create positive and emotionally significant consumer/client relationships. Many of our previous blogs have discussed the importance of brand humanity and the how the multitude of emotions consumers experience can influence the customer journey and change attitudes towards companies and brands.

And whilst this remains a clear focus, we can’t ignore the impact that COVID-19 has had on both service delivery and development of the Customer Experience industry.

It is rapidly evolving, and as interactions have by necessity changed, customers’ expectations have shifted and priorities have become significantly different to those that were drafted onto strategic plans at the close of 2019.

We have shared some of the ways we met the immediate challenge of COVID-19, including looking at our strong partnerships with brands like Yodel, but the business world is still adapting to this new way of working, and the way customers have traditionally acted and regarded customer service is changing.

As an industry, brands must understand that the rules have changed, for good.

And I am not alone in believing that customer experience will be pivotal in this future landscape, as Feefo’s CEO, Matt West, agrees saying:

 “I think the ‘new normal’ will be more CX focused than ever. It will be all about fine-tuning right the way through the journey. Before all of this happened, evaluating the customer experience may not have been at the top of many businesses’ to-do lists, whereas this situation has brought the real value of a brand right to the forefront of the consumer’s minds. A refined CX is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s an essential.”[1]

It is time to tear up outdated plans and explore new and evolving needs which will drive future service development and innovation.

To this end, I have joined forces with Mark Palmer, Chief Executive Officer at Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group, as we firmly believe that together we are able to provide a unique perspective.

There is no doubt that the need for transformation will only continue to intensify post COVID, and Mark hits the nail on the head, when he concludes that:

“COVID-19 is having a profound impact globally. Not only is it affecting our health, but it is fundamentally challenging and altering our political, social, and economic norms.”

And as our normal shifts, some key questions must be answered:

  • How different will service look and feel in the future?
  • How will businesses and their operations need to adapt?
  • And how can employers engage and support their colleagues to deliver on new customer promises?

Our new Whitepaper, combining Webhelp’s expertise in global customer management with Gobeyond Partners’ Customer journey design and transformation experience is called Reimagining service for the new world. It provides a clear framework, or roadmap, for tomorrow’s successful customer-focused operating models and is backed by the latest exclusive research from over 500 business leaders.

There is something wonderful about looking at the right map to explore the road ahead, as:

“Maps are like campfires – everyone gathers around them, because they allow people to understand complex issues at a glance, and find agreement.”[2]

We hope that launch of this Whitepaper will provide the stimulus for many further blogs and events, and I would like to personally invite you to keep the campfire of innovation burning and join the Reimagining service for the new world mailing list, by connecting on LinkedIn and by becoming part of our future conversation. We’d love to hear what you think the future holds.

[1] www.dma.org.uk

[2] www.sonomaecologycenter.org


The importance of remaining human, in the switch to digital learning

The business challenge facing the Webhelp UK Operational Learning and Development (Ops L&D) team, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was truly exceptional. Here, Declan Hogan Director of Operational L&D, UK region, reveals how they transformed their strategy while thinking human and what plans they are making for the future.

In March 2020, upon observing the initial impact of COVID, our team faced an unprecedented demand; to deliver an overarching vision of safe, accessible, viable training - available at speed and at scale.

As a people-first business, colleague well-being was a driving principle, and as pre-COVID, virtual training made up no more than 5% of delivery, we knew that we had to rapidly increase our online service to both protect and inform our employees.

This was to be no small task, as the team operates across 25 sites covering 3 major geographic regions; the UK, South Africa and India. We deliver L&D to 11,000 people across 32 different client campaigns, encompassing a diverse range of cultures, sectors, scales and approaches. We focus on our 9000 frontline advisors, via a fraternity of circa 100 trainers, facilitators, L&D consultants and development specialists.

The Webhelp vision is to ‘make business more human’, so we knew we had to swiftly implement a comprehensive change of direction in strategy and delivery, in a relevant, but above all ‘human’ and accessible way.

We needed a reframed game-plan to meet the considerable demand of the many more employees working from home. With intelligent work force management, access to a daily War Room (to engage, inform and learn from senior leaders) and a freshly developed playbook, using an agile 5DI mythology, we understood the differing circumstances of our colleagues and designed tailored virtual sessions and digital learning spaces to meet their needs.

In just 14 days we achieved:

  • 100% online learning delivery for over 8,000 people working from home
  • Over 50 Webhelp trainers upskilled into a virtual environment
  • 85 core digital learning modules and 25 Digital Compliance Courses ready to deploy

And, our people responded with employee satisfaction scores of around 90%. During the COVID crisis we welcomed 5 new partners in retail, tele-co and key services and our learning team have been consistently central to speed and success.

Our programs and modules broke down existing physical training into short impactful interventions, supported with self-directed guides, an information portal, webinars and video and focused on key themes of communication and well-being and resilience

We used creative design solutions like gamification and split screen technology to engage, test, recognise and reward. Plus, we developed a virtual ‘hot seat’ environment and a soft go live to ease ‘call shock’ for new advisors. And, it was also crucial to invest time to skill the front-line trainers to deliver virtually. We made this real-world with a psychological contract between facilitator and learner that this is not training ‘as usual’: signal will drop, kids will interrupt, pets will make noise etc.

Alongside all of this, a constant dialogue was maintained with each client, keeping them at the heart of all activity, strong relationships based on trust and transparency were built, each playing a part in the decision-making process. You can read more about our partnership strategy in this interview with Yodel. who share their high level of satisfaction with our approach during COVID-19.

So, by necessity, but with insight, the ‘classroom only’ model rapidly evolved and 100% online delivery became standardised and transferable across all of our regions. Although our entire L&D catalogue can now be delivered online, a decision tree process is in place to establish if training should be virtual, blended or face to face.

Looking to the future

Reacting to the COVID crisis gave the world an unmistakable virtual capability call to action, however, our team were ahead of the game with an established L&D strategy for 2020 which had already initiated the clear and strategic goal of increasing the self-learning/digital proposition to enable learning anywhere.

Whilst the crisis has given us the stimulus to test, learn and roll out a virtual model, the focus has now began to shift to blended learning - drawing the best from both virtual and face to face approaches.

As part of our half yearly reflections, each training manager is presenting (via case studies) successes and suggestions on how to improve our new methodologies.

Online learning is growing in both sophistication and popularity, but it should never lose the human touch - as FutureLearn CEO Simon Nelson, who previously led the BBC’s transition from analogue to digital, remarks:

“The integration of digital technology into education has had a profound impact, opening up distribution globally and allowing flexible, on-demand, around-the-clock services for learners. It also connects us to vast stores of information.

However, skills like emotional intelligence, creativity, resilience, conflict resolution, or leadership will never go out of fashion. As technology continues to redefine the world of work, the traits that make us human will remain as important as ever”

Source: Britishcouncil.org

Webhelp is an intrinsically human company – a global melting pot of passionate individuals who actively want to change the game, to really make a difference in the lives of the people and business they work with.  I am incredibly proud of the agility and creativity of my team and how they remained focused and supportive during difficult times.

Our vision and culture will act as a compass to guide the next generation of people-centric learning, and we will keep challenging the status-quo to be the forefront of new thinking, now and in the future.