Peak Voices Part 2: Increased Service Demand in South Africa

A demand peak in Customer Service Management is expected during Black Friday, the festive season and beyond. In the second part of our South African colleagues from Engagement, Operations and Learning and Development teams at the heart of delivery for clients, share their enthusiasm,  highlights and experience as they support customers during one of the busiest times of the year.

Justine Appolis

To keep energy levels up during this busy time we created 200 hype boxes, to be delivered to our colleagues who are currently working from home. Plus, our office based employees will be getting a sugar rush, games, lots of prizes to be won and recognition throughout the period.

I think my favourite moments from previous peaks have to be The Catwalk we held in the canteen and playing ‘spin the wheel’ with colleagues.

This year is a bit different, as my usual advice would be to wear comfortable shoes! But with Social Distancing many interactions will be virtual.

To me Black Friday is about shopping and getting value for money!  At peak I love the atmosphere, the energy and most importantly recognising our people who are serving our customers.

Faiz Osman

We come prepared for every peak!  I use the previous peak to anticipate delivery and to have adequate trainer resource ready to support our advisors.

Learning and Development is focused on giving people opportunities and this is what creates excitement in our space. Highlights are hard to pin down as every year the demand is much greater but it is always very exciting.

New personalities, a set of fresh eyes and most of all subject matter experts from the Operational space all add flavour to the training experience we provide.

Recently we have been delivering Induction Training and internal change requests are always coming through! However, I can honestly say that variation is always great. And, it has been fantastic to see how our Accredited trainers deliver across the new platforms.

A key lesson I have learned would be never under estimate the power of technology. Also – never underestimate the power of working together across all departments. Having all stakeholders around the table every week made a significant difference to the previous Peak 2019 delivery.

Plus, giving a trainer a camera and delivering from home has definitely brought the blended learning approach to the Learning and Development department.

Every peak is unique based on the training requirements. But this peak is different in that COVID has definitely accelerated our outputs to deliver the same level of Induction Training, but still conforming to social distancing regulations.

During Black Friday the Learning and Development Team supports operations, whether it is taking calls, supporting or managing teams.

Finally, I love the adrenalin rush and the hype of just supporting our customers.  

Mathew Carolissen

To get ready for this peak we analysed our previous customer contact channels and optimised our digital platforms to ensure that the customer experience will be a smooth and effective journey.

By focusing on user skill sets, we have realigned our resources to ensure the most benefit for our client. Aiming for an exceptional peak by giving attention to the skills of our people and putting them in the right place, doing the right thing at the right time.

Based on my experience, the highlight of peak is always the amount of unity that is experienced during this time, not only within the campaign itself but within the organisation.

Operations is usually a very interactive space however during peak everyone seems even more engaged and there are so many initiatives and activities that encourage us to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

I believe there are always lessons to be learned through every period of change, and we have all worked hard to make each peak better year after year. This is possible due to the partnership we have with our client and also our collaborative approach to process improvements and change implementation to optimise the delivery and capacity for customer experience.

In our space, Black Friday means the start of peak, the beginning of an extremely busy and important time of the year where we need to ensure that we are providing quality customer experiences and influencing their issues positively more than ever with the stretched capacity of all work streams.

What I love most about peak is the energy and spirit that is felt throughout the period. There is an infectious sense of high energy and positivity.

We hope you have enjoyed this insight into how peak works at Webhelp, find out more in part 1 of this series, with voices from our Team Leaders, Facilitators and the Engagement and Project Teams.


Black Friday, the retail rush in the COVID era

Black Friday is an American consumer institution, where hordes of shoppers traditionally lined the streets waiting for the stores to open the day after Thanksgiving to pick up what they hope will be the bargain of a lifetime. In recent years Black Friday, closely followed by Cyber Monday, has heralded the global festive shopping rush. Here Brandon Aitken, CCO of Webhelp South Africa and India takes a look at how this year may be different, and the ways which our teams and the retail and logistics industries as a whole are preparing to meet an unprecedented online demand.

In the mainstream media, Black Friday is typically represented by crowded scenes of over-excited and frustrated shoppers, fighting it out for that last item on the shelf and stealing items from each other’s trolleys. But in reality, a huge amount retail activity takes place online, and this figure has been steadily growing.

According to Adobe, in 2019 US Black Friday online sales beat all previous records, at an astonishing $7.4bn, up from $6.2bn in 2018. CNBC reported that Cyber Monday was an even bigger day for online shopping than Black Friday, with sales totalling $9.2bn, up 16.9% on 2018.[1]

And, Barclaycard data reveals that the story was the same in the UK too, with Black Friday sales climbing by 16.5% last year, while Cyber Monday transactions rose by 6.9%. Their CEO Rob Cameron said:

“Our data shows that consumers have not only been buying more, but also spending more than last year – which will no doubt come as welcome news to the retail sector”[2]

It doesn’t take a huge leap to imagine that in 2020, Black Friday will drive even more customers onto their phones, tablets and laptops, as companies attempt to avoid crowded in-store events, to safeguard their customers in the COVID era, without losing retail sales.

With the global high-street restrictions still impacting on brick and mortar profits, a successful Black Friday via online channels is something all retailers will be hoping for.

At Webhelp, we are well prepared for this event. We have a highly successful track record of managing Peak Demand in customer service for the international retail and logistics brands we support. Behind the scenes, this success hinges on an incredible amount of preparation and hard work from our people and of course close collaboration with our clients. If you’d like to know more you can read just a few of our employee stories

We have four customer service centres in SA, offering a blended delivery solution with advisors both working from home and safely on site.  Every year, leading up to the peak period and during the ‘eye of the storm’ we create an exciting atmosphere to support and motivate our people during the toughest time of their working year. We focus on motivation and ensure we reward people for their hard work.

Along with the energy and commitment of our people; technology and adaptability will obviously play a huge part in any response to increased service demands, and have a robust and reliable solution that has performed well both at peak and under crisis during COVID.

Webhelp has over 1,000 people working from home supporting 8 different international retail and logistics clients to ensure we are able to sustain support for their customers, and this can be adjusted in response to the evolving landscape of the pandemic.

The skills and expertise that our teams have shown in quickly reacting to changing customer demands really does set us apart and is reflected in the incredible feedback that we have received from our client partners. Commenting on our joint response to the pandemic Michaela Simpson, Customer Experience Director at Yodel reported that:

 “Suddenly home shopping habits changed completely, as a result we have been effectively running at peak operation, which we usually spend a significant part of the year planning and laying out logistics for. However, we managed to switch this on in just a few hours and since then we have maintained very, very high numbers, well above our plan”.

It’s clear that this year, more than usual, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will create added pressures for the retail and logistics sectors, but in South Africa we have the talent and a stable infrastructure to help create success for our clients by providing their customers with an exceptional on-line shopping experience.

[1] Cyber Monday sales hit record $9.4 billion, Adobe says CNBC.com

[2] Black Friday 2019: What happened, where and why? Barclaycard.com


Webhelp Kosovo – Europe’s up-and-coming nearshore delivery market

Looking at it from a sector and size perspective, customer experience management is a challenging task for companies in the DACH countries. Operational challenges alongside macro-level (social level) disruptions have made the delivery of an excellent Customer Experience (CX) even more complex. 

In addition to the tight labour market and rising operating costs, the greatest challenges are increased compliance demands and the rapidly shifting CX delivery models. 

A future-oriented outsourcing service provider is characterized, among other things, by its choice of location, which is the perfect basis for outstanding customer service. For this reason, Webhelp has established several operations in Kosovo. Without doubt, Kosovo is one of the most significant and strategically beneficial business locations for the DACH market. 

This white paper “Driving CX Excellence in the DACH Region” examines the challenging conditions faced by companies in the DACH region and also highlights the Kosovo region, a perfect choice for high-performance nearshore solutions:

 

Webhelp Kosovo – Nearshore solutions made easy!

Created in collaboration with Peter Ryan, Principal Analyst at Ryan Strategic Advisory, this publication provides information and insight for those seeking an experienced Customer Experience partner who is established and strategically positioned in the most relevant nearshore regions.


Peak Voices Part 1: Increased Service Demand in South Africa

When describing a peak in customer experience, there are two separate meanings: the first is a peak moment as experienced by the customer – when they personally experience the best service under the best circumstances possible. The second is peak activity, when there is a high demand in the market, and providers (and clients) see a sharp uptake in service use.

At Webhelp our goal is to combine these two distinct experiences, to make sure customers experience excellent service, at the points that matter most, for example when searching for that perfect Black Friday deal, or when they need a fast response during periods of high demand.

Our people are at the heart of making this happen, and as we approach Black Friday, our South African colleagues share their passion and excitement for one of the busiest times of the year.

Ismail Jattiem

In preparation for this year’s peak activity, we have ramped up our headcount as many of our campaigns do at this time, whilst our Peak People Engagement plan is filled with exciting and fun initiatives, which aim to keep everyone engaged and energized for the period.

This year is a first for us in ensuring that we keep our teams working from home engaged as well!

I have been fortunate to experience many peaks over the years and my highlight is always the energy of the people and their commitment to our customers. It inspires me to see how our people pull together during our busiest period of the year. I have learned that perseverance and unity is what ensures a successful peak.

During Peak 2019, we on-boarded circa 500 Harambee candidates. Harambee provides opportunities for previously disadvantaged job seekers who don’t have the means or the experience to enter the job market.  I am proud that I was part of a team that helped combat youth unemployment in our country and at the same time help to deliver a successful peak for one of the UK’s largest online retailers.

Black Friday brings excitement, anticipation and is very energetic.  It can be extremely challenging, but very rewarding for all involved.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to think outside of the box this year. Social distancing, employees working from home and other restrictions, meant that we needed to take another look at our People Engagement Plan and find innovative ways to keep everyone engaged and enthusiastic.

As usual, we will still be teaming up with our client and collaborating through peak, but this time it will be virtually.

But, no matter how tough or challenging, we will consistently manage to rise above it and deliver a successful peak for our client, our business and our people, because we work together!

Personally, I love peak because as our client is in the e-commerce industry, peak coincides with the festive and holiday seasons. We support our customers with purchasing, ordering and delivering gifts for their loved ones, or themselves… and it is rewarding to know that we have a small part to play in putting smiles on people’s faces.  This also means that our festivities start early – as once we have celebrated a successful Black Friday week, we enter our festive season!

2 - blog

There is a lot of work that goes in to preparing for peak, which includes: Agreeing Peak Principles, Reviewing Seating Capacity, the Training Approach, Mobilising Academy Review, Engagement Review/Sign off, Internal Advisor Selection and Approach and finally Implementation of Peak.

A key highlight from previous years had been the Engagement Model used across both sites; I love the engagement and the hype that is generated towards peak!

And I have learned, from previous experience, to create suitable holiday budget allocations for the period, to help our people cope with the high demand.

Liam Jacobs

As peak approaches, I have prepared my candidates to be the best advisors – we always keep the client/customer at the heart and are ready to serve them with pride!

A highlight for me is getting Peak Ready – and having a positive outlook on what is to come. I enjoy the engagement, and am always interacting with our team and ensuring they are content.

My advice would be to focus on people. When our people are looked after, our clients and customers are too. In fact, this year during COVID-19, peak teaches us to be grateful. Many are still working from home and we will have to work hard to make sure this doesn’t detract from the pre-peak festivities. But, we are all gearing up for a great Peak 2020!

Unlike many colleagues, Black Friday does not impact my client immediately as we work in logistics. It is after Black Friday that we really come to the fore ensuring that “We Take Delivery Personally” on behalf of our client.

I love paying it forward at Webhelp and recognising the ones that mean the most. Going out and making sure that our people are looked after!

Clinton Van Stade

For this year’s peak we have prepared Morning Huddles to revise all processes and make sure we have no issues (Things tend to get crazy!)

In the past my highlights have been the collective spirit of the Management team and advisors, the themed Fridays and also the spot prizes. It will be different this year, as ramping was exponential, but we will keep spirits up!

I have learned in previous peaks that communication is key and advisor engagement daily is vital.

Black Friday is just another day, servicing more customers with a smile! But I love the energy and the vibe of peak, despite how busy it is!

We hope you have enjoyed this insight into how peak works at Webhelp, join us in part two, when our people in Operations, Learning and Development and Engagement share more of their experiences.


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.

Related article:


The HUB #12 – Diversity In Business – January 2020

the Hub

Cheers to the new year! And with the new beginnings, we are not only happy to present our 12th edition of The HUB magazine, we are also delighted to welcome our new readers into the community!

In our latest issue, we take a look at one of our strengths as Webhelp: Diversity! And because we are a community of more than 55, 000 people who work from 36 different countries, what does diversity mean to us in a business environment? Meetings, languages salutations…read on to learn more about this interesting topic.

Can we believe everything we see? Deepfake videos that use a form of artificial intelligence to create falsified videos have grown at an alarming rate. Read all about this intriguing topic in one of our articles.

We also included thought-provoking topics such as, the three mistakes to avoid in social media management, two hearts and a “W” – the story behind our logo, Marketplace support through Webhelp Payment Services and a success story amongst many other topics.


Emotion: Establishing emotional connections with customers: What brands need to know

Disruptor series

The Webhelp Disruptor Series Part 3:

Emotion: Establishing emotional connections with customers: What brands need to know

Commissioned by leading customer experience provider Webhelp, the study looks at what brands need to know about emotional connections with customers. Survey findings plus exclusive content from experts, sector leaders, academics and frontline employees can be found in this whitepaper, part of Webhelp’s Disruptor series tackling customer experience industry challenges.


[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