Frédéric Maus (WSN): "In the world of fashion, 2022 will be the key year to capitalise on B2B marketplaces and omni-channels"

Given the uncertainty in the event world today, it is difficult to predict whether B2B trade shows will be held in 2022. What is certain, however, is that digital trade shows and B2B marketplaces will bring new opportunities throughout the year. Trend analysis and advice from Frédéric Maus, Managing Director of WSN.

 

Fashion: the 4 trends that will shape 2022

1 – The COVID pandemic has already saved textile companies 7 years in their digital transformation.

This is what explained Marie Dupin of Nelly Rodi during the Role Model Day of the Fédération Française de Prêt à Porter held on December 7, 2021. Let’s also remember, as Clarisse Reille (Director General of DEFI La Mode de France) did, that digital technology impacts not only sales but also logistics and the very heart of the customer experience. Digital technology will therefore continue to grow rapidly in 2022 and for many years to come.

2 – “Think Global Act Local ” is the challenge for 2022 and future years for stakeholders in the fashion industry.

Some organisations, like WSN and Comexposium, have already succeeded in reconciling this international dimension with local management, and indeed this has already been the philosophy of Webhelp Payment Services for more than 30 years. As for Impact, WSN’s sustainable and committed trade show event launched in 2019, its international success proves its raison d ‘être.

3 – In B2B, omni-channel options are no longer an option, they’re a must.

Let’s look at what has happened in B2C: we have all adopted omni-channel options, i.e. the ability to at any time choose the sales or communication channel that best suits us (shop, brand website, instant messaging, email, phone call, etc.). This flexibility of operation and quality of customer experience are gaining vast amounts of ground in B2B practices… and we have everything to gain from it!

4 – Trade shows will develop along 2 different dimensions: physical and digital.

Of course, it would be wrong to believe that digital trade shows will simply replace physical ones in the fashion industry! But it would be a bigger mistake not to take full advantage – 24/7, 365 days a year – of the incredible opportunities and facilities provided by digital trade shows like WSN and the Comexposium platform.
It’s important to clarify that this is why at WSN, unlike our competitors, we conceptualise the physical trade show as an extension of our digital trade show (to do the opposite would be rather short-sighted!).

 

My 4 tips for taking advantage of the opportunities of 2022… and staying in the race

 

1 – Don’t choose between physical and digital trade shows: enjoy the best of both worlds.

Whether you are a buyer or a seller, it is counter-productive to see “physical trade shows” and “digital trade shows” as competitors: you do different things in each, and you do these different things at different times. Both abound in opportunities, so why deprive yourself of one or the other?
At physical trade shows, you will be able to create and maintain trusting relationships with your contacts, and of course view and touch the collections. Afterwards, outside the physical trade shows, you will be able to exploit the buying and selling opportunities that are available to you 24/7 all year round. When checking out the opportunities available on these platforms, start small and then increase your ambitions step by step.
Illustration with a typical journey for a buyer: locating a brand on the platform, organising a visit to the trade show, then finalising sales, deliveries, and payments on the platform.

2 – Move towards a sales model that makes your cash flow smoother.

Do we really need to emphasise this? Cash flow is the lifeblood of fashion. On this crucial point, platforms provide a powerful and proven solution: the complete digitalisation of financing and payments.
Let’s take an example, on the buyer’s side: I identify a brand and products that interest me; I ask for and obtain the corresponding financing; I finalize my orders and my payments on the platform; I sell my products; I pay the financial intermediary on the due date.
Just as a reminder, a payment intermediary such as Webhelp Payment Services has been providing such services for over 30 years, both nationally and internationally, and works in partnership with WSN and Comexposium.

3 – Reduce your inventory problems.

Here again, the situation has not changed: inventory management carries a major risk in the fashion sector. To protect yourself against this risk, staggering your orders and payments is good practice.
Platforms like WSN and Comexposium are designed to optimise this spread by finding the one that suits you best, all year-round.
In short, inventory is expensive and is harmful for the company as well as for the planet. But there are solutions!
Thanks to platforms, it is possible – and easy – to improve inventory management, to replenish part of your range quickly, and even test new types of products in a flexible and agile way, all with very limited financial risk and a reduced ecological impact. It is up to you to find the best mix to optimise your business.

4 – In your stores, test the “concept-storisation”.

In France and elsewhere, the trend is to expand the range of products on sale: hence the concept stores where we find fashion, food, sports goods, etc.A platform like that of Comexposium greatly facilitates the creation of a “winning mix”. Buyers and sellers of fashion items, food, and sports goods already use the platform. And in 2022 optical items, lingerie, and many other categories will be added.With the concept store, there is therefore a uniqueness of the goods on offer, at a given place. This opens up the possibility of trialling certain categories and sometimes responding to specific inventory problems.

In short, in 2022, pandemic or no pandemic, fashion buyers and sellers will be able to develop their business, sometimes at physical trade shows, sometimes on digital platforms. The latter will enable you to reduce financial risks and costs, inventories, organisational constraints, and the environmental impact of your business. Who would still want to deprive themselves of this?

 

Frédric Maus

 

In figures…

  • WSN, the global leader in B2B fashion shows with 32 years of experience, works with the top 150,000 retail locations worldwide. In 2019, WSN successfully launched Impact and in 2020 resumed the Traffic trade show dedicated to innovations and solutions for fashion brands and distributors.
  • With more than 35 years of experience in fashion and luxury goods, Webhelp Payment Services supports nearly 1,000 brands across a network of 35,000 stores in Europe and North America.

 

 

 

 

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Why 2022 is the year you should consider Business Process Outsourcing

The business process outsourcing (BPO) market continues to grow at pace.  Valued at $232 billion globally with forecasts in place for continued growth in the next 5-10 years, it’s a market buoyed by the uncertainty businesses of all sizes face on a daily basis.  Increasing costs, technological advances, huge pressures on staffing and recruitment all place pressure on businesses to become as agile as possible and to be able to operate effectively in a changing and often unpredictable environment.   

This uncertainty is leading businesses to consider the benefits of BPO and to understand how the right partner can help them navigate this challenging environment, working together to deliver what’s important – creating positive, valuable customer experiences. 


Five reasons to consider Business Process Outsourcing

You need to supercharge your digital transformation journey

The pandemic has exacerbated the need for digital transformation across every sector and a significant number of businesses look to an outsourcer to support their transformation journey. From deploying the right technology, to assessing existing digital journeys and creating the optimal balance between digital and human solutions, BPOs can support businesses to develop and deliver large scale, customer-led digital transformation programmes. 

Thinking specifically about our work with clients in the digital transformation space, we’ll typically focus on areas such as digital customer experience, self-service and multi-channel strategy, deploying our team of customer journey and analytics consultants to look at key drivers of customer demand, removing barriers to digital adoption, creating revenue opportunities and general best practice digital CX strategies. 


You need the confidence that comes from shared commercial objectives

Creating commercial certainty in an uncertain world has never been more important.  A modern, innovative BPO provider will work closely with its clients to develop shared commercial objectives.   

This approach supports the development of long-term, outcome focused, strategic partnerships where costs are better managed, customer experience is enhanced and the traditional cost-to-serve, transactional based model is consigned to history. 


Your operating model is inflexible and in need of modernisation

It’s our view that when businesses are considering BPO services they can often need a solution that is unique to their situation.  For some, this can be a need for a scalable, virtual and home-based solutions, while others may require a full on-site solution across multiple geographies. 

We offer clients a completely elastic operation as standard, supporting our people to work from wherever they are and however they want to work.  For clients, this delivers an always-on, cost effective solution, customisable across multiple geographies and languages, and with access to specialist skills as required – combining to offer a solution capable of meeting their short and long-term customer operation demands.


You need a solution to short term, unpredictable demand

BPO providers offer valuable, long-term partnerships but there can be instances when businesses have a short-term, immediate demand challenge.  Offering flexible demand solutions, where BPO providers rapidly deploy teams to meet short term spikes in customer activity offers a cost effective solution to customer demand-related challenges whilst ensuring positive customer experience throughout. 


You have limited access to highly specialised services and skillsets

The growth of the digital customer continues and with it comes differing customer journey challenges.  BPO providers offers solutions such as:  

  • Data and analytics expertise to support businesses to help them truly understand their customers and their needs.  Modern BPOs embrace the wealth of data available from front-line, real-time customer interactions and turn this into actionable insights aimed at delivering transformative, personalised and innovative customer experiences 
  • Digital content services to moderate and manage the content on digital platforms and websites.  Content moderation in particular can be a huge drain on resources in an environment where users expect their content to be published in near real-time – BPOs can offer a combination of highly experienced content moderation experts and automation tools to support the best possible user experience  
  • Secure payment services that offer safe and simple solutions for customers and organisations within the online space 

 


Taking the positive next step

Business process outsourcing can be an incredibly positive step for businesses of all sizes, from fast growing companies scaling up their operations to established businesses looking to start, or take the next step on, their digital transformation journey. 

And the benefits are wide-ranging.  Commercially, there’s improved cost effectiveness, increased revenue and profitability, operational benefits can include reduced call times and improved first contact resolution whilst from a customer sentiment perspective, there’s improved customer satisfaction, increased net promoter score and greater brand advocacy, to name just a few. 

At Webhelp our focus is on supporting clients to design, deliver and optimise human experiences for today’s digital world.  Contact us today to discuss if the time is right for you to consider your Business Processing Outsourcing options. 


Mark Guest

Managing Director (Customer Solutions) 

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UK Healthcare innovation continues to accelerate in 2022

Emma Bouché, Head of Healthcare for Webhelp UK, looks at how the seismic impact of COVID-19 has accelerated a culture of innovation within UK Healthcare, and predicts some of the key areas that will be on the sector’s agenda in 2022. 


Healthcare investment is soaring through ever greater innovation

In September 2021, the UK government announced plans to add an average of £12 billion per year for health and social care over the next 3 years. On another front, venture capitalist investment into digital health saw an almost 300% rise between 2017 and 2020. As a result, the flow of innovation shows no signs of slowing, and is in fact accelerating. Finding efficient go to market strategies and leveraging next generation commercial models is key to driving innovation adoption.

Virtual healthcare models are evolving at pace, moving from purely “virtual urgent care” to a range of services enabling longitudinal virtual care, integration of telehealth with other virtual health solutions, and hybrid virtual/in-person care models. All have the potential to improve patient experience, convenience, access, outcomes, and affordability.

The challenge for healthcare professionals in 2022, is simply to keep up – adapting the new innovations and technologies to local demands, and paying attention to human issues as well as technical will prove the difference between success and failure.


A COVID-driven wakeup call for Medtech providers

Whilst a few pioneers had started to experiment with next-generation commercial model design pre-COVID, the challenge to connect remotely with customers during the crisis has completely changed the game.

Medtech providers are now working hard to design a next-generation commercial model that capitalizes on digital and omnichannel interactions. The shift to omnichannel sales is a strong lever for value creation for Medtech companies. According to a BCG 2021 Medtech survey measured over a 10 year period, the commercial productivity of remote sales reps can be double or even triple that of traditional field reps when embedded in a well-oiled, omnichannel model.

Customer loyalty also has a huge impact on longer-term profitability. It is essential that the day-to-day customer process is well oiled between marketing, sales, and customer  management. A successful end-to-end customer journey relies on an agile, use-case-oriented design approach, leveraging an omnichannel sales force with performance-enhancing technologies, and a focus on customer success as well as sales.


Care pathways are being re-designed to optimise capacity and provide care closer to home

Part of this re-examination involves assessing the effectiveness of existing care pathways, as we shift from an illness-based, provider-led system towards one that is patient-led, preventative in focus and offers care closer to home.

In 2021, the NHS introduced virtual wards and remote monitoring at 92 sites across England, to allow for safe hospital discharge of COVID patients. Although initially designed purely for this purpose, these virtual wards began to be successfully implemented to ease pressure on NHS staff, allowing for remote care for many patients from the safety of their own homes.

The anticipated logical progression of this in 2022, is to expand the roles of the non-medical professional workforce to help manage the growing burden of chronic disease more efficiently and effectively, with technology innovations allowing patients to play a greater role in their own care.

This won’t be a smooth transition, however. Healthcare organisations intent on driving this change in 2022 will need to consider multiple factors, including role design, change management, and appropriate technology. Most of all, they will need to ensure the end user, the patient, is at the centre of every decision.

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Team ANRS aces the 2021 Webhelp MBA Case Competition

As proud sponsors of the full-time MBA Case Competition at Alliance Manchester Business School, we are delighted to announce that ANRS was the winning team in the 2021 final.  

 

Chris Garnett, Head of Postgraduate Careers said, 

“After a very exciting, high energy day we are delighted to announce that team ANRS won a very close AMBS Webhelp Case Competition. Congratulations to Shruti Garg, Rishabh Bhagat, Nkem Igue, Aziz Yuldashev and Santanak Datta.”

The competition final was a diligent process. Participants took part in individual case study interviews with judges throughout the morning, followed by group case work in the afternoon. The teams then presented the group case to the judges and faced a very challenging Q&A session.    

Despite changes to the team dynamic with late substitute Santanak joining, this did not deter the team’s ability to take home the top prize.  

Overall, it was very close with not much to separate the four teams – congratulations to Mancunian Rollers, Case Warriors and The Maples for reaching the final and performing so well.   

Shruti from the winning team said, 

“Our team ANRS still reminisce and rejoice in the wonderful feeling of being champions at the case competition. Our team felt confident as we approached the day of the finals: we complemented each other’s strengths to form a strong team. The competition was jam-packed with a variety of activities, but at each stage we all pulled our weight and collaborated to keep each other on track with the tasks. We had great exposure to industry experts who sat as guest judges, including alumni who are now working at Gobeyond, Aceenture and KPMG.” 

 Our CEO of Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group, Mark Palmer commented, 

“We were delighted to sponsor this competition and further cement our relationship with Alliance Manchester Business School. The standard was extremely high – especially given the short amount of time the teams had to respond to the challenge. We enjoyed helping the teams to focus on connecting with their audience and recognising social purpose as a foundation. Congratulations to the winning team, ANRS. It was well deserved.” 

 

We have enjoyed being part of MBA Case Competition and look forward to collaborating with many more ambitious professionals in 2022 as part of our strategic partnership with Alliance Manchester Business school.  


Webhelp Appoints a New Global Business Unit Executive Director to Support Growing High-Tech Client Base

Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience (CX) and business solutions, has appointed Amar Akatrai as its new Global Business Unit Executive Director – High Tech, to further strengthen and grow the business’ client portfolio across the globe.

Amar joins the business with an extensive background and over 17 years of experience in the business process outsourcing and IT-enabled services industries, where he’s worked across verticals such as technology, telecom, travel, and healthcare.

Most recently, he was at Tech Mahindra, where he helped the Business Process Services business grow eight times the industry rate while working to deliver digital experiences to Fortune 50 companies and Unicorns. Building on his career overseeing operations at WNS Global Services, Ventura (now Capita), and IKS Health, he’s developed a deep understanding of CX strategy, digital transformation, and operational excellence.

To support account management across the group, Webhelp has appointed Amar to focus on new and existing partnerships to help deliver exceptional experiences for some of the world’s leading technology companies. Based in California, he will oversee a team of high-performing global account managers and operations managers.

“I’m thrilled to join during such an exciting part of the Webhelp journey and amazed at the unique entrepreneurial spirit that drives this passionate teams,” said Amar. “I’m looking forward to combining my experience with Webhelp’s unrivaled capabilities in this industry, to help new and existing clients deliver truly game-changing customer experiences.”

“I am delighted to welcome Amar to the Webhelp family. His appointment is hugely strategic for us. As we continue to expand, our relationships with clients must remain a priority as we pursue our mission to become a top-three leader globally. Amar’s depth of experience across verticals driving digital transformation and super-charging businesses will be an enormous asset for Webhelp and our growing leadership team,” said Jean-Baptiste Decaix, Webhelp’s Chief Client Officer.

The announcement comes during a time of expansion at Webhelp in the Americas, following the acquisition of OneLink earlier in 2021, creating a business with over 95,000 people across 50 countries.


Webhelp to join expert panel at CCA virtual round table

We are pleased to announce our involvement at CCA’s upcoming virtual round-table discussion on 16th December. Dave Pattman, Managing Director, Customer Experience, will join as a panellist to outline the crucial factors that need to be considered in future CX strategy.  

This session promises to deliver informative and stimulating content to help shape your service offering, addressing opportunities and challenges that will inspire your plans and help achieve customer service excellence, as we Build Back Better for 2022 and beyond.

 

The rapid acceleration of digital transformation has forced many businesses to reconsider their operating model and embrace technology-enabled CX delivery as a matter of survival. Now as we prepare to enter 2022, it’s essential to understand where efforts need to be focussed in the coming year to enable businesses to succeed.  

Dave will join the expert panel to share his knowledge in the customer experience space; including digital and self-service automation tools, CX design, and reimagining of the customer service model to name a few.  

 

Commenting on the event Dave said: 

“I’m delighted to join the panel at the CCA roundtable discussion and to take to the virtual stage alongside customer and operational leaders from across the UK.  

It’s a great opportunity to discuss the customer demands their organisations face, how they plan to manage these demands and to highlight how some of the latest CX thinking can help shape their customer strategy for 2022 and beyond.” 

 

To hear more from Dave Pattman, check out his latest article for Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, where he discusses how organisations can balance the adoption of digital technologies with the need to develop deeper, more human relationships with customers 


Webhelp win big at the Engage Awards 2021

We’re very pleased to announce that Webhelp picked up two awards at last night’s Engage Awards, building on a series of award wins in recent years.  

The 2021 awards, back in-person once again following 2020’s remote event, took place at Park Plaza London Riverbank. Webhelp are celebrating success across both nominated categories:  

  • Winners for Most Effective Remote Working  
  • Highly Commended for Best Use of Training  

The win for Remote Working recognises our efforts to provide our clients and their customers with an excellent experience, while keeping the safety of our people as a number one priority. Our Webhelp Anywhere model is both flexible and scalable for our clients, while providing our colleagues with a modern, adaptable remote working programme. 

Our industry-leading training solution is a fully-blended learning experience which included e-learning, online assessments, video content and various simulations, delivering a fun, competitive approach to learning. 

David Turner, Webhelp’s Chief Executive Officer for South Africa, UK and India, had this to say:  

“I’m absolutely thrilled for our people to once again receive recognition for our Remote Working programme. It speaks to the tenacity and skill of our colleagues, and our determination – through what everyone recognises as some of the most turbulent months of our times – to think human, and truly put our people first. 

This goes hand-in-hand with our incredibly talented Training team, who have allowed our new recruits to grow and thrive, whether their training be in-person or remote. Both of these awards are a reflection of the skills and dedication of our people.”  

 

The Engage Awards are recognised by the industry as the only awards programme celebrating excellence in both Customer and Employee Engagement. The programme captures examples of excellence from organisations and individuals directly improving their strategies, retention, loyalty, productivity and bottom line performance. 

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What matters most to UK Christmas shoppers in 2021?

Christmas may be right around the corner, but 2021 is a different year for British retailers and customers alike.  

Pandemic fears remain; the government has recently tightened restrictions, and Christmas shoppers have more buying options than ever before, with eCommerce evolving exponentially during COVID-19.  

Here at Webhelp, we conducted a survey in partnership with YouGov to analyse consumer buying behaviours and preferences leading into the holiday season, in order to understand the issues that are most concerning to consumers and retailers this Christmas. 

We surveyed over 2,000 UK adults to explore the importance of brand loyalty, considerations between offline and online shopping, and the value of personalisation, and uncovered a few key trends that should matter to retailers – in particular, leaders who are focused on customer experience, operations, and organisational transformation.  

Here are some of the key insights gathered from the results: 

  • The pandemic could be impacting loyalty and causing customers to look beyond their usual brands – almost one third of those surveyed have started visiting different shops or websites that they weren’t using prior tothe pandemic (32%)with value for money the most popular reason.  
  • Online retains dominance with almost 48% of shoppers planning to shop mostly or entirely online. 
  • There’s still hope for the high street however, with 46% of shoppers strongly agreeing that it’s an important part of British life, and over one third planning to shop in store. 
  • There’s an opportunity for retailers to improve personalisation with all age groups – half of those aged 18-24 feel retailers do this well, but this drops consistently across each group to just 22% for those aged over 55. 


Money matters – value drives decisions

We first looked at what influences people when they decide where to do their Christmas shopping.  

Perhaps unsurprisingly, financial considerations are the primary motivation for most people – almost one third (31%) felt they had less disposable income than last year. Value for money is the main deciding factor (60%), followed by low prices and promotions (40%) and cheap shipping and delivery costs (35%).    

Fast delivery times are equally as important as positive customer reviews, with 33% of respondents stating that this feedback influences their buying decisions.  

Perhaps unsurprisingly, financial considerations are the primary motivation for most people.

Customers want to get behind local businesses, with 35% planning to support local businesses this year. Moreover, 57% plan to start shopping at the same time they did during previous years, with 22% planning to hit the stores earlier — a significant enough number of customers to warrant enhancements to existing customer journeys, both online and offline.  


Brand loyalty is under pressure

One interesting trend is that the pandemic could be causing customers to look beyond their usual brands. 

Almost one-third of surveyed consumers (32%) have started visiting different shops or websites that they weren’t using prior to the pandemic, primarily driven by the same financial considerations as their more loyal counterparts.   

“Almost one-third of surveyed consumers (32%) have started visiting different shops or websites that they weren’t using prior to the pandemic”

For this 32%, value for money was the most popular reason for jumping ship (39%), followed by prices and promotions (34%) and cheap delivery costs (27%). Over a quarter (27%) also counted fast delivery times and the opportunity to support local businesses as their reasons for switching brands, while 24% were influenced by positive customer reviews, emphasising the importance of getting the end-to-end customer journey right.  


Online shopping continues to dominate…

With Amazon only one click away and continually pushing the boundaries of customer convenience, the importance of getting online retail experiences right is more vital than ever.  Almost half of the shoppers surveyed (48%) plan to shop mostly (40%) or entirely (8%) online.

Almost half of the shoppers surveyed (48%) plan to shop mostly (40%) or entirely (8%) online.

Moreover, 14% of respondents expect to have more disposable income to spend this Christmas than last year, while 47% expect to have the same budget. 

With many shoppers choosing to purchase online, some with more cash to spend, retailers have an opportunity to increase revenue by enhancing their personalisation efforts and improving customer experiences in online purchase journeys.  

Retailers appear to be relatively successful at personalising interactions with younger customers, with 51% of 18-24 year olds agreeing that the deals and promotions they receive often feel tailored to their needs. Comparatively, this percentage drops continually across the various age brackets in the survey, with only 22% of over 55s feeling this way. It’s clear therefore, that as retailers look at their immediate and overall 2022 priorities, there is huge opportunity to improve personalisation across all age groups. 


…but there’s hope for the high street

Here’s some good news for bricks-and-mortar retailers – there could be a revival of high street shopping, albeit against the ongoing backdrop of the pandemic. 

We asked customers to respond to the statement that local high streets are an important part of British life, of which 46% strongly agreed, and 37% somewhat agreed. Age did factor into these results, with the over-45s more bullish about high street shopping than respondents between 18 and 34.  

“46% strongly agreed that local high streets are an important part of British life”

With such a large majority valuing high street shopping and its impact on British culture, coupled with a strong desire to shop in-storephysical stores could witness increased sales this Christmas. Still, although consumers may hold high street shopping close to their hearts, the convenience of online shopping will always be a massive deciding factor, especially while the pandemic continues. In response, retailers would do well to enhance their offline, in-store experiences and integrate them into online customer journeys this year.  


Vanessa Flather, Managing Director, Retail, Travel & E-commerce at Webhelp, had this to say of the results: 

“The pandemic had a massive impact on the high street, and we expect to see that market trend continue across the Christmas period and into 2022. With this comes an increase in competition between brands online, and a customer base that is increasingly coming to expect high levels of service and convenience. 

Innovative retailers will refuse to rely on loyalty alone to drive online sales, and instead focus on creating exceptional customer journeys. Personalisation should be a huge part of this focus – we’re increasingly seeing that customers expect at least some degree of personalisation when they shop, and retailers keen to place themselves ahead of the crowd will look to seize this opportunity.” 


At Webhelp, we have a number of solutions to support retailers across the busy festive period and beyond, whether it be personalisation, peak demand management, customer journey optimisation, or analyticsdriven customer insights.

If it sounds like we could provide a solution for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Four Awards for Webhelp at the ECCCSAs

Webhelp Scored Top Prizes at the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards, Including Gold for Best Large Outsourcing Partnership

Leading global customer experience and business solutions provider, Webhelp, scored four awards at this year’s European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards (ECCCSA), including Gold for Best Large Outsourcing Partnership for its long-standing partnership with a major global client. The business was also awarded Silver for Best Customer Support Team, recognizing the exceptional customer experience managed across the organization’s operational teams.

The awards, presented live on November 23rd in London, saw the Webhelp team succeed in the following categories:

  • Gold for Best Large Outsourcing Partnership
  • Silver for Best Customer Support Team
  • Bronze for Most Effective Learning and Development Initiative
  • Bronze for Best Innovation in Customer Service

Building on a series of award wins in recent years, the team’s gold recognized the business’ commitment to putting clients at the heart to create game-changing customer journeys.

Jean-Baptiste Decaix, Webhelp’s Group Chief Client Officer, commented:

“It’s our priority to work with clients with shared values, culture and passion because we believe in building long-standing relationships and partnerships. We are proud and incredibly excited to receive this recognition together with our global partner from one of the leading industry awards programs.”

The Bronze award for Best Innovation in Customer Service was won for Webhelp’s collaboration with, using the company’s proprietary technology, HELP-ER, to provide support throughout the entire roadside assistance journey.

Olivier Duha, Webhelp CEO and Co-Founder, said:

“I’m thrilled to see the business receive these awards, not only recognizing the hard work and dedication from our passionate game changers but validating our commitment to delivering best-in-class customer journeys. Congratulations go to the teams who worked so hard on achieving this great success.”  

The Most Effective Learning and Development Initiative award validates Webhelp’s continued focus on empowering advisors with the best learning experiences possible. This year, for a gamification-led learning experience, adapted for a virtual world to provide advisors with new, engaging ways of learning whether in the office, at home, or working in a hybrid way, part of Webhelp’s unique Webhelp Anywhere proposition.

The European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards are recognized as the longest-running and largest awards program in the customer experience industry, which celebrates organizations across Europe that deliver exceptional service to customers.

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Virtual Infrastructure: The super-car powering technology control automation

Kelvin Middleton, Webhelp’s Chief Technology Officer, outlines the benefits – and risks of virtualisation in business growth.


There is no denying the importance that businesses put on technology in-fulfilling their strategic objectives. For many industries and businesses, technology advancements have been accelerated by COVID-19 in line with the fourth industrial revolution (industry 4.0). This is coupled with cyber and resilience risk, which continues to be an increasing focus for businesses, governments, regulators and consumers.

Virtualisation is a key component for all businesses looking to advance their offering, and ensure that they have robust and modern technology to meet their user needs.


What is virtual infrastructure?

Traditionally, IT infrastructure has been made up of a collection of physical resources like servers, routers and firewalls. Virtualisation refers to the transition of these from physical resources to software, a virtual representation of its former self. So instead of a piece of hardware only performing one dedicated task you can now run lots of virtual instances on the same hardware all performing different tasks simultaneously.

Virtualisation is not a new technology – its history reaches back to the sixties – but as you look at this technology over the decades you see changes and improvements coupled with leaps in hardware manufacturing and software development. What once required significant upfront investment in decentralised and complex compute, network and storage infrastructures can now be achieved using inexpensive commodity hardware. This hardware centralises the infrastructure into modular blocks of compute, network and storage, which can be easily expanded over time. Welcome the hyper-converged revolution of the noughties.

Real world application and benefits vary, but one of the original considerations surrounded cost optimisation, allowing businesses to  fully utilise the infrastructure capacity by making it perform more than one task at once. However, as incremental improvements in hardware and software were developed over time then virtualisation came to include enhanced redundancy, security, scalability, and reliability, each with their own pros and cons. As a result, business value realisation moved beyond optimising the IT budget and into the territory of providing competitor differentiation, and therefore increased revenues. As an example, consider the reduction in manufacturing times due to shorter R&D lifecycles, owing to the increased capability that virtualisation can provide.

In more recent years, virtualisation has expanded to include that which once required dedicated and/or specialist hardware, such as a network router, firewall and even telephone system. Now, however, even these components can be deployed virtually, which can massively reduce a business’ latency in change activities without compromising on reliability.


Risk

Like any technology, virtualisation comes with risks as well as benefits. Omit upskilling and investing in your engineers to ensure they know how to support new technologies, and you risk poor implementation, downtime and compromised security.

One potential pitfall is borne from the usual budget challenges targeting technology teams to do more with less – one of the selling points to virtualisation. Push this to an extreme, however, and you risk stacking the deck too narrowly, with virtual workloads operating on too few physical points of redundancy, so the cost of failure is extreme. Businesses need to strike the right balance of cost optimisation vs. redundancy.

Another concern businesses should evaluate and plan for is the security of an environment. With physical servers your attack surface could be dispersed, difficult to find, and therefore difficult to access. In the virtual world, the command-and-control plane can see, touch and destroy it all.  Role-based access controls, multifactor authentication and data protection toolchains are the staples of today.

Cost management is another factor to consider in the world of virtualisation. People and process has traditionally always been the go-to for ensuring the controls are in place to manage growth, and therefore cost risk. But virtualisation has given businesses the opportunity to automate controls in the environment. Consider a new software development project which is able to simply, easily and programmatically create new virtual servers to provide the capacity needed to host a new project. Without the appropriate controls and governance in place, the self-serve benefits virtualisation enables can easily turn into a runaway train of infrastructure utilisation and unplanned expenditure.


The future

Old complex technology infrastructure is no longer adequate for modern businesses that need the agility and flexibility to execute change at pace. Virtual infrastructure is a key player in this space. Smart organisations will understand the need to strike a balance between investing for the future and delivering current priorities. Strategic changes to technology infrastructure must be addressed, providing businesses with the potential for scalability – making it easy to react quickly and safely deliver seamless solutions that really make an impact for their clients and customers.

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