The death of passwords and the move to recognition technology

The concept of the computer password dates back to the earliest days of shared computer systems, with the first computer password developed in 1961 at MIT. That’s 60 years ago this year that we started our journey with digital authentication methods. The first case of password theft or misuse was documented just a year later, in 1962.

It’s almost unbelievable in this age of rapid technology advancement that we are still relying on what is essentially an aged and almost obsolete technology to protect ourselves and our digital assets from prying eyes.

Today, we are entering what is referred to as the “Third Wave” of the authentication revolution. The password was v1.0, Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) are v2.0, and we now find ourselves looking at v3.0 beginning to take shape.

With online security a greater concern than perhaps ever before for customers, let’s take a look at what organisations need to be aware of now, as we move into an innovative new future in digital security.

So what exactly is the problem with passwords?

Characters from a known character set are the basis of any password generation process (manual or automated). This is exactly the reason why there is no perfectly unique password. Passwords are created to be remembered, and that is their one fundamental weakness. It makes them predictable, guessable and open to abuse

Didn’t 2FA and MFA solve the issue?

Well, no not entirely. MFA (like all methods of authentication) is open to abuse and is highly dependent on how it has been implemented. The approach to “proving who you are” using multiple elements across the four key factors of authentication certainly makes it more difficult to fool systems, but not impossible (which, let’s face it, is the ultimate goal of any authentication technology).

Authentication factors look at four key categories:

  • Knowledge (something you know)
  • Possession (something you have)
  • Inherence (something you are)
  • Location

You may well be used to 2FA across your apps and devices, but did you know that some security services have 4FA in place? Logging on to check your email may take some time…

What exactly is recognition technology?

Authentication 3.0 is the world of “recognition technology”. Recognition technology includes a mixture of different data points across end user devices, data analytics, mobile usage, behavioural and physical biometrics, and factors of continuous authentication to build a more solid and resilient model compared to the methods used today.

We all know about facial and fingerprint recognition, you probably use these on your phone along with solutions like Windows Hello.

But here’s the thing – the way you type, the angle you hold your phone at, the way you move your cursor, the websites you visit, if you run your browser maximised on your desktop, the time of day you logon, the speed you read at, that pause before you send an important email – these are all examples of your unique identity footprint in the digital world. They all represent individual data points that uniquely identify you.

Combine this digital footprint with advancements in biometrics such as heart rate signatures, vein recognition, thermography, gait, hand geometry (and yes even body odour) it becomes possible to build a totally unique digital identity of you. Combine these technologies with AI, built to continuously monitor changes in your identity profile, and the world of passwordless authentication seems more like a reality.

So where next?

We do need to be realistic. For widespread adoption of these new authentication methods, what’s needed is a clear set of globally agreed standards, and a lot of legacy technology systems. Innovation will continue in this space, but is likely for now to offer the results of varied experimentation. Different approaches will have different solutions, built to different specifications, all chasing the one ultimate proof of identity that is impossible to fabricate.

One thing is clear, though – the age of the simple password as a sole method for authentication is rapidly approaching an end. We will continue to see greater adoption of a layered security approach before these methods are finally put out to pasture, but the clock is ticking.

At Webhelp, we’re always ready for the next step in technology evolution, while still maintaining our focus on the human element. As we incorporate new developments in security into our systems and processes, we continue to work hand in hand with our people, to design security solutions that work for them, and help to create the best possible colleague experience.

To find out more about Technology and AI, read the latest blog by James Allen, Chief Risk and Technology Officer on Bots, Bias and Bigotry.


Webhelp partners with Microsoft to stimulate economic growth in Egypt

Webhelp and Microsoft Egypt 2

Webhelp, a global leader in customer experience and business solutions, recently entered a partnership with Microsoft to create 200 jobs in Cairo, Egypt.

An official agreement was signed with a joint mission to grow the Webhelp Egypt business to 1,000 employees by the end of 2021 and expand to more than 4,000 employees over the next three years.

Driven by its vision to make business more human, Webhelp is committed to increasing diversity and investing in programs to promote education and integration in the more than 50 countries where it operates. Already a major employer in Africa and northern Africa, Webhelp is committed to growing its sustainable investments on a global scale.

The news comes after Webhelp signed a three-year agreement with Egypt’s Information Technology Development Authority (ITIDA) to invest EGP 200M into job creation, technical skill enhancement, and economic growth. In line with Webhelp’s impact sourcing initiatives, ITIDA aims to create intensive job opportunities for highly qualified Egyptian youth in information technology products and services.

Last Thursday, Amr Mahfouz, President of ITIDA, Mirna Arif, General Manager of Microsoft Egypt, Vincent Bernard, Group Chief Operating Officer, Etienne Turion, CEO of Webhelp Enterprise, and Alaa El Khishen, Webhelp Egypt CEO, witnessed the event at the official Ministry of Communications and Information Technology office in Egypt.

Microsoft and Webhelp’s collaboration will support remote presales and sales services of Microsoft digital transformation solutions to small and medium enterprise businesses. Webhelp’s enterprise practice has developed strong partnerships with major tech players globally, thanks to its strong expertise in B2B sales in this key sector. This agreement strengthens Microsoft and Webhelp Egypt’s future ambition to generate job opportunities to spur growth and prosperity in the region.

Mirna Arif, Country Manager, Microsoft Egypt, said:

“Our partnership with Webhelp will enable job creation, enhance skills and support our country’s growth story in the post-pandemic era. As we continue to empower public and private organizations across the country to achieve their digital agendas, we will continue to strengthen Egypt’s position as the destination of choice for attracting global investments.”

Vincent Bernard, Group Chief Operating Officer, announced:

“We are proud that thanks to our enterprise expertise and global way of working, we have become a trusted partner of a major player like Microsoft. Our partnership will become part of Webhelp’s ESG initiative to empower new generations through offering the opportunity to become trained and internationally certified in pre-sales services, digital sales, and sales channels. In the coming years, we have plans to invest further in opportunities for youth in Egypt.”

Webhelp and Microsoft Egypt

Debt collection and people

Collection of overdue payments: effective and people-friendly solutions based on Commitment, Innovation and Solidarity

Debt collection and people

In a difficult social context, a new model for collecting overdue payments is needed. More people-friendly, but no less effective, the new model has three focuses: Engagement, Innovation and Solidarity, as explained during a Smart Session given by Franck Etienne, General Manager of Collections Services – Customer Financial Experience products at Webhelp Payment Services.

Methods of collecting overdue payments are changing. They are adapting to a difficult social context, scarred by both an economic and a medical crisis. For businesses, the situation is worrying and delicate: what’s the best way to make it work? In-house or with a specialist partner?

Experience shows it is wise to re-organise the model around three focuses: Commitment, Innovation and Solidarity.

 

1. Commitment: to make collection advisors more effective

As professionals, collection advisors are accountable for the advice they provide, i.e. what they say to a client. Ultimately, this responsibility falls on the partner company. So the initial training and then daily coaching of these teams is crucially important.

Every day, these advisors are dealing with people who are struggling or unwilling to pay. So they are “on the front line”, displaying the brand image of the company seeking payment. Therefore, the advisors need to be extremely careful when using the three traditional phases – case analysis, listening and finding solutions! In addition, monitoring, listening and measuring systems need to be set up and properly managed.

Overall, the advisor must feel fully accountable and committed to his actions, completely consistent with his colleagues and managers and within the “spirit of the brand”.

From the customer’s viewpoint, it would be inadmissible for the credit company to provide responses which varied with the contact person or the communication channel (email, mail, SMS, etc.).

This concept of advisors’ professional commitment must be reconciled with the concept of trust.

Typically, the business of collection starts with fairly rigid call scripts. Exchanges between the advisor and the client are structured as they progress – which is very reassuring for a newly recruited advisor, for example.

However, switching as quickly as possible to other methods, such as the mind map,is recommended. This very practical and powerful technique makes it possible to visualise the client’s thoughts and behaviours. It is a live, adaptable method that benefits from exchanges between the various parties involved. This free flow of ideas makes it possible to emulate and constantly improve, increasing the competence and confidence of advisors – which ultimately results in greater efficiency.

And of course, in a context of working from home, whether hybrid or full time, this concept of trust between advisors and managers has become a key point of collective efficiency – the manager’s adaptability also being crucially important.

This new organisational situation will probably be perpetuated in many companies, the aim being a “triple win'” where everyone benefits: employee, creditor and end customer.

To meet this commitment challenge, a healthy trust between employee and manager needs to be put in place, rather than “command and control”!

 

2. Innovation: so that the advisor optimises the collection strategy

Too often, the keyword “innovation” is associated with new digital tools. This should not be exclusive: social innovation must remain the priority, as technology is there to be used for human performance.

For example, when carrying out data management analysis for our customers, we study many variables: profiles of overdue customers, behaviours and reactions to requests, analysis of reachability, creditworthiness, payments, etc.

In our experience, for this data analysis to be effective, it must be cross-referenced with analysis of the actual experiences of advisors and their managers.

What we find is that, over and above raw and quantitative data, it is the quality of the human interaction that makes the difference.

Thus the advisor has a key role in realising and optimising brand strategy. However, it should not in any circumstance be considered rigid, definitive and mechanically employed in a “top down” manner.

To return to the concept of technological innovation, let’s not forget we are now at the stage of enhanced advisor. This means the advisor can rely on a variety of automated business process solutions (or RAP for Robotic Automisation Process).

In practice, some repetitive or low value-added tasks are handled automatically, either totally or partially. This usually but not always refers to back office areas.

For example, there are real-time monitoring and re-transcription systems for conversations between advisor and client. They provide indicators that tell you about the quality of the conversation, such as its emotional content.

These monitoring tools can also offer the advisor tools to help with decision-making or discussion.

However, these tools should be studied or implemented with care. Within the Webhelp Group, experiments are underway, particularly in Nordic countries.

Measuring the implementation costs for these solutions is essential. In addition to direct costs associated with the acquisition and technical operation of these solutions, there are organisational costs to be included. These enhanced advisor solutions require very specific HR and managerial support. Careful preparation and then testing are required to create the expected added value!

Finally, technological innovation also applies to the omni-channel advisor. This advisor no longer only handles outgoing calls; he also handles incoming calls, emails, chat conversations, and sometimes even mail. This has led to the growing importance of writing in recruitment and training processes for collection advisors.

3. Solidarity: for empathetic support in line with brand values

Solidarity is traditionally defined by concepts of “social duty, reciprocal obligation, help and assistance, courteous collaboration between people in a community… “.

The brand must position itself clearly in relation to this fundamental value. This is even a priority in certain professions, such as mutual organisations and insurance companies for example.

And so in 2021, and probably in 2022, the brand will ask the question: “how are we to approach our clients who are suffering hardship in such a stressful social, health and economic context?”.

For its part, for several years now Webhelp Payment Services has been working in partnership with Crésus,a federation of 24 regional associations. Their mission is to help people who are in over-indebted or suffering financial problems. They also play a role in providing information on excessive debt and its prevention.

For example, this partnership has made it possible to measure people’s level of fragility in order to inform collection services and allow referral to appropriate support services.

In certain sectors of activity, this value of solidarity also enables the brand to play an advisory role–going as far as providing coaching. In addition, experiments between Crésus and Webhelp Payment Services will be extended during 2021.

Similarly, the idea of solidarity applies to teams of advisors engaged in a collective effort to improve service and share best practice.

To sum up, although there is a certain amount to be collected, it is possible – and probably desirable – to bring people into the relationship, while relying on technologies and tools that enhance that relationship.

It is also this empathy and this search for human solutions that over time will lead to a good and lasting relationship with the customer and a positive brand image! A relationship to everyone’s benefit!

 

To find out more about this topic


Digital empowerment for future leaders

At Webhelp, our motto is “Think human.” That means putting our people first. It means helping them to make the most of their individual talents, to innovate and take risks, and to help each other grow and thrive. To become passionate game changers, and the future of our industry.

Digital adoption is a huge part of that. We believe that a shift to digital ways of working, properly delivered, serves to assist our people in finding their potential. With that in mind, over recent years the Organisational Development team has transformed our management development programmes, with digital enhancements at the centre, to enable our leaders to be the best they can be.

Virtual Classroom

Back in 2018, we upskilled our Management Development Consultants to design, develop and deliver virtual classrooms using virtual software. The goal was to shift the Management Development modules – traditionally only delivered in a face to face environment – into a virtual classroom approach.

To date, the team have facilitated over 160 Virtual Classroom sessions to an audience of over 1000 managers, translating to 2468 hours of learning investment. Not only did this allow us to swiftly pivot our approach when the Covid-19 crisis forced organisations to embrace remote working, the shift to digital training has led to a far greater reach of management development consultants to our managers, which has in turn increased the volume of development available. And we are seeing the results.. Over the past 4 years, the rating of our managers by our front line advisors has increased year-on-year, and is one of the highest rated responses across all sections of our annual employee survey.

We continue to refine and improve our offering and are proud to say that  our people can now receive the same industry-leading training with a 50% reduction in learning investment time.  They also have more flexibility in when and how they access the learning they need.

Virtual Roadshow

One perhaps less obvious impact of lockdown has been on how we can communicate with our people. It’s incredibly important to us that our people feel informed about the learning opportunities that are open to them, and with our usual face to face opportunities off the table, we needed a new solution.

And that is where Virtual Roadshow comes in.. To create awareness and excitement about the ehancements the Organisational Development team have been making over the last couple of years, we will be talking virtually to all operational leaders and support colleagues over the course of the next few months. We have complemented this roadshow with an innovative, interactive digital booklet, complete with informative videos on all programmes and learning opportunities breaking down all the important developments across the business. This allows colleauges to digest this and reflect on what it means for them as and when they chose.

We are proud to be transforming the learner experience, and have already seen the benefits it’s bringing. Taking a unique approach to showcasing our management development products through our interactive booklet truly demonstrates the digital capabilities we have developed.  I’m excited for the new possibilities that this gives us, as we continue to grow and transform.

Judith Ferguson, Director, People Business Partnering & Organisational Development – UK, South Africa & India

Social learning

As part of our Leadership Development Suite, we set out to revolutionise our learning & development proposition, by providing high-end, blended and self-directed learning options for our people. When COVID hit in March 2020, we wanted to find a way to support our managers rapidly, and enable not only open communication, but a community approach to solving problems. We wanted managers to support other managers, and learn from each other.

Our solution was to provide open access to our Leadership Development suite, with over 85 learning programmes currently available. We’ve created a fully virtual solution in the form of a Social Learning community, enhancing communication, and allowing over 900 colleagues (and counting) to find and organically share their learning and information. This allows for years of experience to be fed right back into the business, for those who know to share with those who want to know.

We’ve made some significant changes, both before and during lockdown, to our ways of working. We’ve changed how we develop our people. We’ve changed how we engage with our people.

These changes have helped us to keep connected through learning during lockdown. More significantly, though, they’ve given our people the tools they need to help each other grow. They’ve helped make personal development open and available for everyone, regardless of their role or location.

Interested in finding out more about our journey?  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Webhelp named as leader by NelsonHall for Customer Care and Sales Capability

 

Webhelp was recognized as a leader in NelsonHall’s 2021 Vendor Evaluation & Assessment Tool (NEAT) for our exceptional customer care and sales capability on social media. We were also ranked highly for our online reputation management, content moderation, and trust and safety capabilities, validating our teams’ ongoing dedication to support our global partners’ customers and brand reputation. 

NelsonHall recently published a social media customer experience (CX) services profile highlighting Webhelp’s capabilities, specialization, and technology enablement. The profile also touches upon our people-first approach to ensuring the health and wellness of our team members.

Ivan Kotzev, lead CX analyst and author of the report, stated:

“In the breakneck dynamic of social media content moderation, Webhelp maintains a strong position with a combination of proprietary moderation and agent assistance platforms, strategic partnership, investments in employee wellbeing and resilience, and industry-specific services.”

NelsonHall’s custom report presents the NEAT vendor evaluation findings for social media CX services in the Customer Care & Sales Capability market segment, displaying a graph of our performance analyzing our social media CX services and the latest market trends.

Besides our solid B2B social selling capability, the profile elaborates on our social media CX consulting, design ability, mature content moderation, and trust & safety experience. This high rating in NelsonHall’s assessment validates our extensive capability and growing global footprint enabling our teams to go the extra mile to deliver real value to our clients.

 

The report evaluated 21 leading industry players to compare and highlight their offerings, delivery capability, benefits achieved on behalf of clients, customer presence, positioning, innovation, and more.

Ivan continues in the profile, “Webhelp has a mature consulting and design practice able to analyze clients’ CX demand and identify social channels’ suitability within an overall CX approach.”

The NelsonHall NEAT assessment defines a leader as a player who exhibits high capability than their peers while delivering benefits for clients at a developed ability to exceed client expectations.


Webhelp delivers 20% performance improvement for clients by leveraging conversational AI

Paris, April 6th, 2021

Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience (CX) and business solutions, today announces a host of positive results from the implementation of machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) technologies, which improve customer operations in written text channels such as email, chat and social media through augmenting human delivery with these enhanced automation capabilities.

As a leading technology enabler in CX, Webhelp’s integrated technology platform leverages partnerships with established enterprise tools, curated start-up technologies, and Webhelp’s own proprietary development capabilities to deliver tailored customer experience solutions for brands.

The innovative technology, launched as part of the Webhelp platform in 2020 in partnership with EmailTree, has enabled Webhelp to integrate the solution into existing operations with clients such as Samsung, to support agents through several models including email understanding, robotic process automation (RPA) of business tasks, and personalized email composition.

Results include an initial performance improvement of around 20%. In turn, this enables a higher-quality customer and employee experience, as representatives have more time to focus on value-added work for customers.

Raluca Leonte, Head of Global Delivery & Transformation at Webhelp, said:

“We are delighted to see this initiative generating such standout results so far. It’s exciting to know that we can expect the program to deliver up to a 50% increase in performance as we scale in the future. Our partnership with EmailTree AI is part of our commitment as a technology enabler to ensure that our clients benefit from best-in-class solutions designed and delivered in the right way to serve their brand and customers. Omnichannel strategies are more important than ever, and in a global, multilingual business like Webhelp, automation is a critical part of enabling our people to take brand experiences to the next level. We know that AI and ML are quickly evolving in text-based channels such as email, and as a company founded in the digital era, we are continuously helping our clients further their digital transformation agenda.”

Samsung, a Webhelp client, has been utilizing this groundbreaking technology and is already seeing some standout results. Abira Siran, Senior Professional, Customer Experience Manager at Samsung Electronics France, explains:

“The high-tech industry is ready to take technology and innovation to the next level helping to design a better customer and employee experience. Digital interactions have the highest potential to create innovation at scale, and Webhelp has enabled this through its innovative partnership with EmailTree AI. These initial results are very encouraging. The program delivers a more intelligent way of working to allow the operational team to naturally choose quality over quantity.”

Casius Morea, Founder and CEO of EmailTree AI said,

“We’re thrilled to partner with such an innovative player like Webhelp, with such a deep understanding of what’s needed to drive a stellar digital experience. Our mission is to reinvent the customer experience with intelligent end-to-end customer service automation driven by people. Naturally, as technology enablement is a core pillar of Webhelp’s culture, we were delighted to partner to strengthen their offering to clients across multiple sectors.”


About EmailTree AI

EmailTree AI comes as an end-to-end AI-driven solution to empower customer services and support teams with a complete customer service automation solution which helps enterprisesSMEs and individuals to decrease the time spent for customer requests and email management, reduce costs, automate repetitive tasks and increase the customers’ satisfaction. The artificial intelligence helps the human reaching a higher value-added and it is always the human that keeps control. The reply suggestions proposed by the AI can always be improved by the human touch. The solution is used by top telecom companies in Europe (e.g. Orange Luxembourg), utilities’ providers (EDF France), ecommerce platforms (BWM Mediasoft), banks, insurance companies, global customer outsourcing and business process outsourcing leaders.


‘The Nest’ by Webhelp expands across Europe

The customer experience program offers a simple and scalable outsourcing proposition for fast-growing companies

Oxford, March 24th, 2021

The leading global customer experience (CX) and business solutions provider, Webhelp has announced the expansion of its program, The Nest by Webhelp, across Europe which aims to support startups and scaleups to provide the best-in-class customer experience. The Nest enables fast-growing companies across all sectors to grow exponentially by offering a unique, tailor-made outsourced CX proposition.

This news comes at a time when many young companies are facing multiple challenges due to the pandemic and are requiring flexibility and ROI optimization while uncertainly prevails in their business environments.

Chloe de Mont-Serrat, Head of The Nest, said:

“We’re delighted to expand our offering to companies across Europe. Thriving startups have one key thing in common – exceptional customer experience. Outsourcing CX with a trusted partner can enable businesses to scale up quickly while maximizing ROI, freeing them up to focus on what matters most – growing their business.”

Launched in France in 2018, the program already supports dozens of the most dynamic startups, many of which have been placed highly in ​The French Tech Next rankings. In addition to this, Webhelp is a long-standing partner for countless unicorn startups and is well-placed to help fast-growth companies differentiate their businesses. The program is taking on a European dimension by expanding into the UK, Spain, Germany, The Nordics, The Netherlands, and Turkey.

“The early years of building a startup can be complex. From scaling quickly in new markets, building solid expertise and processes to sustain growth, innovative products, and services to differentiate from competitors, the challenges can be vast. Our program can support startups by providing outstanding customer experience to deepen their understanding of customers as they scale through leading-edge insight and analytics,”

added Vanessa Flather, Managing Director, The Nest, UK.

The Nest by Webhelp makes the expertise of Webhelp, the European market leader for CX, available to smaller businesses and is based on a strong people-first working culture. Its core focus is to support its clients as they grow their businesses and enable them to generate competitive advantages in the CX space. The program offers a wide variety of services, all of which can be customized to the client’s individual needs, including, but not limited to; omnichannel customer engagement services  (including customer care, community management and technical support),  sales support  (customer acquisition & retention, sales assistance) and digital services  (content management, moderation services, digital marketing). The program operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is available in more than 40 languages.

In addition to a best-in-class customer experience delivered by expert teams, clients also get access to ‘The Nest Community.’ This resource will offer members mentoring, business development, and networking opportunities as an additional way to generate traction and achieve better results through a strategic startup network.

As Charles Egly, CEO of Younited Credit, and one of the first startups to join The Nest by Webhelp program, testified:

“In the early days of a startup, the senior team often try to tackle all the issues head-on, sometimes to the detriment of the final product or service. The outsourced support that The Nest program offers was invaluable to expand our team and provide reinforced expertise. It also allowed us to conquer new markets much faster. Working with an outsourced partner in this way offers increased efficiency, lower operating costs, more flexibility, and faster time-to-market. Not to mention, access to the best processes and tools on the market, most of which are usually too costly for a startup.”

Webhelp Co-Founder, Olivier Duha, concluded:

“We are thrilled that – despite the COVID-19 pandemic – the startup world is still booming, and the pace of fundraising has not slowed down. Ultimately, supporting fast growing startups has always been in our DNA, as we still have an entrepreneurial culture that perfectly guides that.”

About The Nest

The Nest by Webhelp is an outsourced customer experience (CX) program by Webhelp to help startups and fast-growth companies differentiate themselves and scale-up their team, quickly and simply. Operating across Europe, the program provides clients access to its global network of operational customer experience specialists 365 days a year and seven days a week. The Nest offers a wide variety of services, all of which are customized to the client’s individual needs, including, but not limited to; omnichannel customer engagement services (including customer care, community management and technical support), sales support (customer acquisition & retention, sales assistance) and digital services (content management, moderation services, digital marketing). Clients of The Nest will have access The Nest Community, offering mentoring and other business support and guidance to enable startups to grow and succeed in their marketplace.

More information can be found at thenest.webhelp.com


‘The Nest’ by Webhelp expands across Europe

The customer experience program offers a simple and scalable outsourcing proposition for fast-growing companies

Paris, March 24th, 2021

The leading global customer experience (CX) and business solutions provider, Webhelp has announced the expansion of its program, The Nest by Webhelp, across Europe, which aims to support startups and scaleups to provide the best-in-class customer experience. ​The Nest enables fast-growing companies across all sectors to grow exponentially by offering a unique, tailor-made outsourced CX proposition.

This news comes at a time when many young companies are facing multiple challenges due to the pandemic and are requiring flexibility and ROI optimization while uncertainly prevails in their business environments.

Chloe de Mont-Serrat, Head of The Nest, said:

“We’re delighted to expand our offering to companies across Europe. Thriving startups have one key thing in common – exceptional customer experience. Outsourcing CX with a trusted partner can enable businesses to scale quickly while maximizing ROI, freeing them up to focus on what matters most – growing their business.”

Launched in France in 2018, the program already supports dozens of the most dynamic startups, many of which have been placed highly in ​The French Tech Next rankings. In addition to this, Webhelp is a long-standing partner for countless unicorn startups and is well-placed to help fast-growth companies differentiate their businesses. The program is taking on a European dimension by expanding into the UK, Spain, Germany, The Nordics, The Netherlands, and Turkey.

“Building a startup can be complex, and the early days are the hardest, without a doubt. From scaling quickly in new markets to building solid expertise and processes to sustain growth, to creating innovative products and services, the challenges are diverse. Our program can support startups by providing an outstanding customer experience to put them at a competitive advantage while helping control costs”

added Edouard de Ménibus, Program Director, The Nest, France.

The Nest by Webhelp makes the expertise of Webhelp, the European market leader for CX, available to smaller businesses and is based on a strong people-first working culture. Its core focus is to support its clients as they grow their businesses and enable them to generate competitive advantages in the CX space. The program offers a wide variety of services, all of which can be customized to the client’s individual needs, including, but not limited to; omnichannel customer engagement services (including customer care, community management and technical support), sales support (customer acquisition & retention, sales assistance) and digital services (content management, moderation services, digital marketing). The program operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is available in more than 40 languages.

In addition to a best-in-class customer experience delivered by expert teams, clients also get access to ‘The Nest Community.’ This resource will offer members mentoring, business development, and networking opportunities as an additional way to generate traction and achieve better results through a strategic startup network.

As Charles Egly, CEO of ​Younited Credit, and one of the first startups to join The Nest by Webhelp program, testified:

“In the early days of a startup, the senior team often try to tackle all the issues head-on, sometimes to the detriment of the final product or service. The outsourced support that The Nest program offers was invaluable to expand our team and provide reinforced expertise. It also allowed us to conquer new markets much faster. Working with an outsourced partner in this way offers increased efficiency, lower operating costs, more flexibility, and faster time-to-market. Not to mention, access to the best processes and tools on the market, most of which are usually too costly for a startup.”

Webhelp Co-Founder, Olivier Duha, concluded:

“We are thrilled that – despite the COVID-19 pandemic – the startup world is still booming, and the pace of fundraising has not slowed down. Ultimately, supporting fast growing startups has always been in our DNA, as we still have an entrepreneurial culture that perfectly guides that.”


About The Nest

The Nest by Webhelp is an outsourced customer experience (CX) program by Webhelp to help startups and fast-growth companies differentiate themselves and scale-up their team, quickly and simply. Operating across Europe, the program provides clients access to its global network of operational customer experience specialists 365 days a year and seven days a week. The Nest offers a wide variety of services, all of which are customized to the client’s individual needs, including, but not limited to; omnichannel customer engagement services (including customer care, community management and technical support), sales support (customer acquisition & retention, sales assistance) and digital services (content management, moderation services, digital marketing). Clients of The Nest will have access The Nest Community, offering mentoring and other business support and guidance to enable startups to grow and succeed in their marketplace.

More information can be found at ​thenest.webhelp.com


Webhelp win at CCA Excellence Awards

We are absolutely over the moon to have won the top award for Excellence in Business Process Outsourcing Collaboration, alongside our strategic business partner The Very Group, at the prestigious 2021 CCA Excellence Awards. 

 

We provide customer engagement services to The Very Group, and the partnership, which was founded in 2015, focuses on working together to ensure objectives, actions and initiatives are all geared towards improving the customer experience. Mark Billingham, Group Customer Care & CX Director (COO Financial Services) from the Very Group said: 

“We are incredibly proud to be associated with Webhelp and to be celebrating this award together along with all of the individuals across both brands whose hard work has contributed to this win. Our partnership has been founded by commercial principles on which our two businesses are entirely aligned, and the framework allows both our brands to operate like one. Adopting this level of integration has been absolutely fundamental to the success of the partnership and our digital vision, and it’s great that our joint commitment to creating a customer care experience that is recognised and loved has been recognised by the CCA judges”. 

 

This is the third year in a row we have won the BPO Collaboration Award with David Turner, our UK Region CEO commenting: 

“We are delighted to have received this level of industry recognition. At the heart of our partnership with The Very Group are commercial principles aligned to strategic objectives to ensure both parties benefit from long term transformation. Since the onset of the pandemic both our brands have gone above and beyond and the dedication and hard work that continues to come from the people within our businesses is truly phenomenal, so I know this win will mean a lot to them.”  

 

With more than 20 years’ experience, the CCA are recognised as a trusted reference for research, analysis and expertise. The CCA Awards are regarded as ultimate recognition for customer service excellence, innovation and best practice and this Award follows us scooping 4 wins at this month’s European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards.

SHARE

Bots, Bias & Bigotry: safe scaling of AI

In the first of our Risk & Innovation series, James Allen examines the barriers to overcome when scaling AI.

Now that we’re well into the fourth Industrial Revolution (also known as Industry 4.0), we expect to see some fundamental shifts in how businesses operate and serve their customers.

Here’s what we see as the three big pillars of Industry 4.0:

  1. Digitisation of product and service offerings
  2. Digitisation and integration of supply / value chains
  3. Digital business models and customer access

 

The shift toward Industry 4.0 has become more important to many brands, and has accelerated during the Covid crisis as a result of significant changes in supply chain and consumer behaviour.

In fact, a recent McKinsey survey highlighted that 65% of respondents see Industry 4.0 as being more valuable since the pandemic, with the same survey revealing that the top 3 strategic objectives for Industry 4.0 are:

  1. Agility to scale operations up or down in response to market-demand changes (18.4%)
  2. Flexibility to customize products to consumer needs (17.2%)
  3. Increase operational productivity and performance to minimise costs (17.2%)

Yet when the same respondents were asked if they had successfully scaled Industry 4.0 initiatives, only 26% had managed to do so successfully.

 

According to Rothschild & Co, the market for Industry 4.0 is expected to top 300 billion dollars, and with AI and connectivity projected to reduce manufacturing costs by 20% (or 400 billion dollars), it’s essential that companies find a way to scale safely, at pace.

Artificial Intelligence evolution

AI has been in development for years, starting with the first computers in the 1940, with which scientists and mathematicians began to explore the potential for building an electronic brain. In 1950, the “Turing Test” proposed that if a machine could carry on a conversation that was indistinguishable from a conversation with a human being, then it was reasonable to say that the machine was “thinking”. This simplified version of the problem allowed Alan Turing to argue convincingly that a “thinking machine” was at least plausible, and the paper answered all the most common objections to the proposition.

Fast forward many years, and many millions of pounds of research investment, and in 1997 perhaps the first publicly recognised AI computer was developed. This came from IBM in the form of Deep Blue – a chess-playing computer that beat the reigning world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

But machines like Deep Blue were incredibly complex, extremely expensive, and inaccessible to all but a few large technology companies. In the past few years, however, the interest and opportunity presented by AI within Industry 4.0 has exploded.

This is due to a number of factors:

  • Wider availability of computing and access to cloud environments with large processing power
  • Development of deep learning algorithms
  • Big Data platforms
  • Development of Artificial General Intelligence

AI – learnings and barriers to scale

Whilst many companies see the potential presented by AI, companies are also rightly concerned by the risks that it presents, as well as the barriers they need to overcome when scaling.

The most common challenges we tend to come across are:

  • Access to specialist skills
  • Cost of processing in cloud environments
  • Inability to demonstrate fairness, lack of bias and integrity of AI algorithms
  • Risk of unintended consequences
  • Regulatory understanding
  • Ability to seamlessly switch between AI powered processes and regular business processes in the event the AI fails

This presents organisations with a real conundrum. AI use raises questions over ethics, safeguards, interpretability and more. It’s only right that organisations probe these issues and take the learnings from those that have gone before them.

Here’s a few public examples of where AI has gone wrong:

Footballer or felon

A facial-recognition system identified almost thirty professional American footballers as criminals, including New England Patriots three-time Super Bowl champion Duron Harmon. The software incorrectly matched the athletes to a database of mugshots in a test organized by the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Nearly one in six athletes were falsely identified.

CEO gets spoofed

In 2019 the CEO of a UK-based energy firm got a call from his boss at their German parent company, instructing him to transfer €220,000 to a Hungarian supplier. The ‘boss’ said the request was urgent and directed the UK CEO to transfer the money promptly. It turned out the phone call was made by criminals who used AI-based software to mimic the boss’ voice, including the “slight German accent and the melody of his voice,” as reported in the Wall Street Journal. Such AI-powered cyberattacks are a new challenge for companies, as traditional cybersecurity tools designed for keeping hackers off corporate networks can’t identify spoofed voices.

Get me out of here!

US airlines were subject to widespread criticism after their AI powered pricing systems charged customers up to 10 times the price of a regular ticket, as they desperately tried to escape Florida ahead of the arrival of hurricane Irma. The systems did not have a kill switch. “There are no ethics valves built into the system that prevent an airline from overcharging during a hurricane,” said Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate and journalist.

 

Navigating the risks and enabling safe scaling of AI

Webhelp and Gobeyond Partners have developed a comprehensive framework to support the safe scaling of AI, including assessment of risk, key controls, human-centred ethics principles, algorithm management and data handling. This framework includes open source methods that can be used to demonstrate the integrity and explainability of AI algorithms.

Safe scaling of AI

Questions your organisation should consider

Although AI presents a huge opportunity to transform both business operations and customer experience, this is not without risk. Here are some of the long term strategic questions that we recommend you consider, for your organisation:

  • What role does AI have in the working environment and is there such a thing as a post-labour economy? If so, how do we make it fair?
  • How do we eliminate bias in AI?
  • How do we keep AI safe from threats?
  • Is it right to use AI in cyber defence? If so, where is the line?
  • As AI capabilities become more integrated, how do we stay in control of such a complex system?
  • How do we define the humane treatment of AI?

 

Feel free to get in touch, to see how we can help you safely fulfil your Industry 4.0 ambitions at pace and at scale.