Black Friday, reliability and attractiveness the key components for your online strategy

Black Friday, known as an American consumer tradition and one of the busiest shopping holidays of the year.

This event is traditionally known for shoppers to line the streets, waiting for 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 now transpired and  adopted across several other parts of the world.

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 taking items from each other’s shopping cart. Over the last few years, many retail activities have shifted online. This shift to digital platforms has steadily grown, and due to 2020 events, this has skyrocketed. Many retailers online are even starting promotions early to gain traction to their platform and the opportunity to retain customer loyalty.

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 totaling $9.2bn, up 16.9% on 2018. From 2019 to 2020, sales increased by a further 22% to a record astonishing $9bn.

Integrated omnichannel experience

It’s not hard to imagine that the momentum will persist, and Black Friday will drive even more customers onto their phones, tablets, or laptops. Businesses now attempt to avoid crowded in-store events, to safeguard their customers in the COVID era and simply follow this trend we have observed over a number of years now. Doing so without losing retail sales must go through a strong Digital Content strategy to meet customer demands and ensure an integrated omnichannel experience.

Consumers have become intrinsically used to shopping from the warmth of their home, therefore a successful Black Friday via online channels is something all retailers are hoping for. To ensure a successful campaign, it is key businesses content strategy is aligned with those ambitions and consumers expectations.

Managing content to attract and convert customers

Attracting consumers with the right content against the competition and ads that are displayed to them, requires a streamlined catalog management process. This ensures online users land on a well-managed platform, with a catalog that shows the right promotions and the right products for them. That being said, following your marketplace’s guidelines and ensuring a smooth and homogeneous experience are key challenges for conversion and retention.

At Webhelp, we are fully prepared for this event. We have a highly successful track record of managing peak demand in terms of partner onboarding for the international retail and logistics brands we support.

Case study: leading online e-commerce and marketplace platform in Turkey

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Behind the scenes, this success hinges on an incredible amount of preparation and hard work from our team of experts, and of course close collaboration with our clients, supported by our strong processes and sourcing capabilities in finding the right, specialized resources.

 

Technology and expertise combined

Every year leading up to the peak period, we create an exciting atmosphere to support and motivate our talented experts. We focus on motivation and ensure we reward people for their hard work. Along with the energy and commitment of our teams, technology and adaptability also plays a huge part to ensure we offer a smooth and seamless experience for our partners and their customers.

The skills and expertise that our teams have shown by quickly reacting in order to prepare for key events in a retailer’s calendar year, is reflected in the highly positive feedback that we receive from our client partners. This year is no exception as Black Friday and Cyber Monday will create added pressures for the retail and logistics sectors where our teams continually provide a game-changing experience. Our talent, global footprint and stable infrastructures are capable of efficiently creating success for our clients by providing their customers with an exceptional online shopping experience.


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Thomas Japy

Digital Content Services Business Analyst

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Role of Data

Anywhere, Anytime, Any device

In the post-pandemic world, customers expect to interact with brands on their terms – via their preferred channel, and at the time and place they want.  

With demand for digital channels spiking, brands must now integrate all forms of communication which are relevant for their specific customers – such as chat bots, SMS, web, mobile apps, phone, email, video, WhatsApp and Messenger. 

Here, we discuss three trends in demand for new channels to optimize CX while retaining operational control – a topic explored more fully in the CX21 series.

Provide a seamless user experience

Many customers want to proactively investigate, and self-serve, solutions to problems – often using multiple channels simultaneously for a speedier resolution.  

What people will not tolerate is brands wasting their time by failing to manage the complexity of the multichannel environment. In reality, that means being asked to provide the same information multiple times or being sent down ‘dead end’ or circular channels, where it’s impossible to complete transactions. It’s vital that customers can complete journeys in any, and all, channels provided by the brand – be it an app, website, social channels or bot. 

Advanced firms recognize that multichannel is a strategic priority. They’re investing in cloud contact centres which enable them to integrate all their business operations – from sales, customer service, CRM, and marketing, which helps customers to switch easily between channels. It also ensures technologies work together, and provides a ‘single view of the customer’ across online and offline experiences.  

Design with the customer in mind

Brands must resist the temptation to implement ‘cool’ new channels for the sake of it – effectively putting tactics before strategy.  

The journey to multi-channel should always begin with a “human sense of design thinking” – gaining a genuine understanding of what people your customers are trying to achieve, and the journeys they’re taking to get there.  

For consumers, the priorities are most likely to be convenience and simplicity. When introducing new channels, it’s often easier and more practical for brands to introduce bolt-ons for existing customer technology, rather than introduce clunky proprietary apps – many of which to date have collected data but added little value to customers. 

With demand for digital channels soaring, it may also be time to ‘bust the myth’ that people, by default, want to get into phone conversations with advisors. In reality, these calls are often the “human last resort” for people happy to self-serve, thus brands should recruit and assign highly skilled advisors to handle these complex queries. 

In short, customers love digital channels – but their primary concern remains the ability to easily complete transactions – whatever the channel.  

Role of data

Providing an opportunity for great CX anytime, anywhere and on any device marks a clear win for consumers. But it also enables intelligent brands to secure a competitive advantage – through gathering, centralizing, and mining data from the entire customer journey.  

Brands will need to use AI and analytics to create the customer profiles which underpin future products and services. These data-led approaches help to exceed customer expectations, cement customer loyalty, and refine multi-channel strategies.  

And that’s a wise move, because delivering a robust multi-channel environment is not a one-off exercise; brands will need to make a long term, operational commitment, and a team of people to continuously assess and improve performance.  

The shift to multi-channel will put clear water between CX brands. Those which streamline channels, apply human design thinking, and harness insights from powerful data, will maintain ‘sticky’ customer relationships  – delivering experiences well beyond purely transactional and reactive services. Brands which don’t engage with multichannel risk reputational damage from wasting their customers’ time on poorly-designed journeys which prioritize channels over user experience. 

Discover our CX21 series that explores the major trends, opportunities, and challenges in the world of CX in the 21st century, focusing on how brands can thrive in this dynamic context. 

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Buy now pay later

B2B - Buy Now Pay Later, a new payment standard: 4 ways to stand out

Buy now pay later

Now is the time! The opportunities offered by Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) appear to be massive for B2B. When offering their payment methods, platforms and marketplaces should choose to stand out from the rest, as recommended by Meriem Ouenniche, Client Solution Manager at Webhelp Payment Services.

This is no longer simply an option, it’s a standard: Buy Now Pay Later is experiencing exponential growth in the area of B2B. It is noted that this credit purchase option has been offered in e-commerce and B2C marketplaces for years by fintechs such as Younited Credit or Klarna, who are now transposing their solutions to B2B. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) allows marketplace operators, sellers and buyers to access deferred payment solutions.
But is this not “merely” a new credit option? Here are the arguments suggesting that this phenomenon deserves to be looked at more closely:

– It is true that credit is nothing new in B2B commerce, but we are conscious of a new desire on the part of Buyers and Sellers for a solution that is perfectly integrated with the shopping experience. This “way of thinking” comes as no surprise: millennials represent a significant part of the workforce in companies, and 73% of them are involved in B2B purchasing decisions*. As keen supporters of B2C purchases on ultra-optimised platforms (eBay, Amazon, Cdiscount, etc.), they aren’t ready to give up this quality of experience in the workplace.

– From the perspective of Sellers and the business platform, BNPL is seen as an opportunity to increase the value of the average basket, to enhance customer involvement and loyalty, to reduce financial risks and to focus on the business and growth rather than on payments.

– From the Buyers’ perspective, VSEs and SMEs are a very receptive target for the benefits offered by BNPL, as long as the operations and formalities are straightforward and fast. These companies are looking for more flexible and less restrictive alternatives to the credit solutions offered by conventional banks.

4 ways to stand out with BNPL

In a context of rapid change it would seem appropriate to offer Buy Now Pay Later in the following 4 areas of differentiation:

1) You need to offer a highly personalized shopping and payment experience

The buyers must feel understood, listened to, and that their preferred payment methods are taken into account. Analytics and AI seem to be particularly relevant in this new purchasing ecosystem, thanks to their ability to personalise the customer experience.

2) Your payment solution should make it possible for the seller to be paid more quickly (instant pay out) and for the buyer to pay on the payment date that suits them (which may differ from the one proposed by the seller)

Scoring plays an essential role in the analysis and evaluation of the buyer’s profile in order to define the appropriate credit line and thus limit the risk of non-payment.

3) Your payment solution needs to be fully integrated, fluid and seamless

In contrast, a complex payment experience will, in the long run, prove to be a deal breaker. This shows the importance of continuous, dynamic improvement of the user experience (UX).

4) Your payment solution needs to be comprehensive and flexible

To meet new market demands, it is recommended to offer BNPL solutions in order to support B2B marketplaces in their growth and diversification of their offer.
As a PSP (payment service provider), Webhelp Payment Services covers the entire spectrum of B2B payment services through a scalable offer adapted to the client’s needs: scoring, onboarding of buyers & sellers, pay in / out, white label invoicing, dunning, debt collection, credit insurance, BNPL, etc.

 

*According to a report published by Merit.

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The future of outsourcing: Let’s talk innovative, agile, strategic commercial models

In the latest in our series looking at the future of outsourcing, Webhelp’s Managing Director (Customer Solutions) Mark Guest looks at the growing need for commercial certainty as organisations consider the merits of outsourcing critical operations. 


Despite the many difficulties of the pandemic, the Business Process Outsource (BPO) industry is arguably experiencing the most extensive adoption of outsourcing services in a generation, revealing common themes and new challenges to overcome. 

Outsourcing buyers are keen to optimise their partnerships to maximise investments in people, data, technology, and transformation. Against this backdrop, organisations are looking for certainty related to performance, requiring commercial arrangements that boost confidence in their partners and offer more than the traditional—and frankly unsustainable—cost-to-serve model, which centres on billing for large numbers of transactions. 

Outsourcers have an obligation to recognise this buyer shift, with our approach being the development of a model that has proven to be transformational in delivering clients the certainty they require in this incredibly uncertain time. The concept relies on strategic, outcome-based partnerships, where clients and outsourcers work together on shared commercial objectives. Most notably, this approach involves sharing the risks and rewards of outsourcing services, relieving the pressure from clients’ purchasing decisions.  

This article will explore the fundamental tenets of this evolving commercial model, highlighting how innovation, flexibility, and agility can enhance an outsourcing strategy and lead to success for both sides of the partnership.  


Outcome-focused commercial agreements

“The success of an outcome-based agreement depends heavily on access to technology, access to people, and access to data”

When organisations begin outsourcing, they’re hoping to achieve specific outcomes such as cost reduction, increased efficiency, improved customer satisfaction, revenue generation, or a combination of each.  With an outcome-focused commercial model, these strategic objectives are directly tied to service delivery, meaning that elements of remuneration are only payable when outcomes are delivered. As such, the level of financial risk and reward linked to service delivery is highly dependent on each business’s risk appetite. 

For example, if a client tasked us with transforming their customer experience, we would identify how to measure progress—perhaps through net promoter score, customer satisfaction (CSAT), or first-call resolution—and develop jointly agreed SMART performance targets to track the progress against these key outcomes. 

The success of an outcome-based agreement depends heavily on access to technology, access to people, and access to data, all of which enable the outlining of fair costs and achievable goals based on the information given provided by clients. In our partnerships, if we find any inaccuracies or our client cannot fulfil its dependencies, there’s the flexibility to review the commercial commitment to ensure its suitability over the long term.   

There is always a certain element of risk when partnering with outsourcers to achieve long-term goals, but by offering an outcome-based model, outsourcing providers are helping clients to better manage that risk, focusing on delivering results, not promises.   


Financial agility

“In adopting a financially agile approach we can help clients remove, or at least minimise, cost-related barriers to outsourcing and digital transformation.”

Historically, Webhelp has always positioned itself as an entrepreneurial, creative brand in the commercial sense. Our willingness to adapt commercial structures to fit client needs has enabled the creation of partnership-centric contracts that provide significant value for both sides of the relationship.     

Outsourcers with significant size and scale should be able to offer a level of financial flexibility that helps partners advance quickly towards their CX goals. For example, suppose an organisation is operating a 500-seat internal contact centre that is underperforming. In that case, there are several financial commitments and liabilities to deal with before switching to an outsourced model, such as facility costs, staffing, technology, and equipment. All these costs mount up and can delay a successful transformation, so it’s imperative to find a trusted outsourcing partner with the financial agility to support the organisation on its journey.  

In adopting a financially agile approach we can help clients remove, or at least minimise, cost-related barriers to outsourcing and digital transformation. This type of flexibility gives organisations the agility to deliver a robust, accountable and achievable transformational programme without being held back by their existing liabilities. 


Commercial certainty

While an outcome-focused model involves some level of certainty, by linking the commercial agreement to outcomes, commercial certainty is more about reducing financial risk for clients on the outsourcing provider’s behalf.   

It’s not an approach that works for everyone, and considerable due diligence is essential. However, for outsourcing partnerships of significant scale or tenure it can be an approach worth exploring – our experience has shown that when planned and executed properly, the commercial certainty model can produce wins for both sides of the partnership. 


Commercial creativity

The final tenet of an evolved commercial approach speaks for itself; commercial creativity exemplifies an ability to listen and work with partners to develop commercial models that meet their business needs whilst ensuring partnership creation and value for both parties.  

As a global company, we’re thinking creatively on an international scale. The appetite for outsourcing constantly evolves in every region, defined by various domestic and global trends. In this ever-changing world, being commercially agile is essential to meet clients’ specific needs in every type of vertical market.  

From a Webhelp perspective, if we can work creatively on commercial partnerships and give our clients comfort in the long-term value of outsourcing, we’ve done our job right.  


Conclusion

“Our creative, agile, outcome-focused commercial agreements have helped us establish healthy foundations for building strategic, long-term partnerships based on trust”

The client/outsourcer relationship has to change. True partnerships, underpinned by innovative, flexible, and strategic commercial agreements, allow clients and outsourcers to focus on what matters most: creating game-changing customer experiences.  

By taking an innovative and flexible approach to commercial constructs, we’ve found that senior customer and operational leaders within our clients’ organisations can confidently present outsourcing services as a solution to better manage costs and, ultimately, deliver an enhanced customer experience.  

Our creative, agile, outcome-focused commercial agreements have helped us establish healthy foundations for building strategic, long-term partnerships based on trust, which—in a world of uncertainty—has been paramount to the success of our clients and their experience of the outsourcing industry.


Mark Guest

Managing Director (Customer Solutions) 

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car_dealership

Protect dealers and buyers on secondhand car platforms

Detecting fraud requires a combination of human expertise and technology.

car_dealership

Secondhand cars have seen considerable growth since 2020. With used-car retailers using digitalization to make their offerings more attractive on their platforms: from photos to video demonstrations, states Motor Intelligence.

With car dealers and private sellers uploading content, it’s vital these platforms provide a safe and seamless journey for customers. This requires a balance of technology and human intervention to manage the journey at each step.

This paper looks at some of the pain points on secondhand car platforms, key industry insights, and how Webhelp can offer a comprehensive and game changing solution with experts in digital services.

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Author

Thomas Japy

Digital Content Services Business Analyst

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Africa

Webhelp: Setting the agenda for BPO CX in Africa

Africa: A continent of near-limitless opportunity for a range of customer experience outsourcing services – but without an informed market entry and execution strategy, a place where global brands can severely damage their reputation.  

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As the pandemic disrupts established offshoring locations in Asia Pacific, global brands are assessing and ramping up alternative offshore sourcing locations within AfricaThe C-suite recognize that the continent offers a clear route to maximizing business continuity and minimizing risk, while systematically reducing operational costs, and achieving a more balanced distribution of customer engagements associated with high quality outcomes.  

We have understood the opportunities well – having grown from a single market entry position on the continent in Morocco, to the current team of over 25,000 people working across seven African countries, serving both English and French language needs, providing CX management services in multiple industries, including automotive, e-commerce, FMCG, retail, airlines and oil and gas. We also continue to learn from these extensive engagements – using insights to optimise market entry strategies.

Webhelp is now one of the biggest customer experience management firms within Africa, but it has taken us 20 years, and a deep level of understanding of all the specific and different nuances associated with each and every country in which we operate in Africa today.  

 As the second largest continent in the world, Africa is home to over 1.2 billion people and makes up 20% of the earth’s surface. It’s home to extreme wealth, obscene poverty, and everything in between – with widely varying levels of political stability and infrastructure availability. It’s vital that brands which are now considering adding Africa to their sourcing portfolio’s view the continent as a long-term, integral part of their business strategy. Most multi-nationals recognize that while critical, the actual delivery of customer experience management is not their core business, and they need support with creating and implementing human experiences in a digital world. In our experience, brands must also balance responsible business, leveraged opportunities, and risks, in order to succeed within Africa.

Responsible Business

Within Africa, young people account for 60% of those who are unemployed, according to the World Bank. Areas hit hardest included Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, and South Africa. As a leading global CX services provider in Africa, with an extensive global footprint, we recognize that we’re uniquely placed to offer employment opportunities and to tackle the social divides resulting from  these high levels of unemployment. So, we’ve created a bespoke and scalable Impact Sourcing Model for unemployed youth, to deliver social reform systematically through all our CX outsourcing work in Egypt, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Morocco, Senegal, and South Africa.

Young African man

In South Africa for example, we work in partnership with Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator – a world-renowned not-for-profit social enterprise – as well as multiple governments and customers, using a model for inclusive youth hiring at scale. Through all our contracts, we provide  formal work readiness training, including, jobs, and professional call centre qualifications, to young people aged 18-35 who are at risk of long-term unemployment and economic exclusion.  In addition, we provide bespoke programmes designed to maximize understanding of the sectors in which our clients operate, such as retail. This approach accelerates time to competence, and we are seeing young people thrive in their careers with Webhelp. We are also seeing remarkable outcomes being delivered for our clients’ customers.

So far, in partnership with Harambee, we have supported hundreds of excluded and unemployed young people into career opportunities with Webhelp, either through jobs, or work placements, and we have a firm commitment to increase numbers every year.

Having said that, as a business striving to deliver world class customer experience outcomes, we know that we can’t enter new countries with a ‘cookie cutter’ approach. We were one of the first companies to work directly with our customers in customizing and configuring our Impact Sourcing methods to meet the specific needs and objectives of their businesses.

In terms of talent management, Webhelp South Africa has also partnered with the University of Stellenbosch Business School to launch a leadership diversity programme. By combining formal education with career experience, we can create an equitable pipeline of skilled and talented future leaders. Social value aside, I cannot overstate that we won’t work anywhere in the world without first fulfilling our responsibility to carry out extensive due diligence on countries which we, or our clients, are considering as a place for new business or offshore expansion. 

Our expert team rigorously scrutinize each and every country’s standards in terms of political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal (PESTLE) criteria. We use this insight, alongside guidance from the UN, World Bank, and World Health Organisation to ‘score’ each country under consideration for new business. We then deploy a team of subject matter experts who spend time in the country surveying the local labour markets, salary levels and recruitment, before getting all our insights validated by teams of people based within the target country.  

Only when evidence shows that a country meets our high standards on ethics, compliance, and operations, will we consider designing the best way for us and our clients to work there.

Opportunities

With 60% of the population aged under 25, Africa is set to have the biggest number of consumers globally – backed by steadily increasing education levels, improving infrastructure, and a dynamic start-up business culture. Soon, brands will have access to an abundance of highly motivated and skilled people, who due to their emerging global status as consumers, have a unique understanding of the importance of CX.

Young African muslim lady

Not only that, but right now, brands considering investment in Africa can benefit from a myriad of funding opportunities. Many governments across the continent award significant grants to firms which can deliver positive social outcomes – which is one of the reasons why South Africa has been voted the most favoured offshore CX delivery location by Ryan Strategic Advisory. There is also significant funding available through organizations like the Rockefeller Foundation, and the World Trade Organization. 

We encourage competition in Africa because it drives performance. We’re not only looking to build our own business here – we’re looking to develop the whole CX industry in the regions in which we operate. As more and more brands commit to the continent as a key part of their go-to market strategy, we’re expecting to see second, third and fourth generation businesses open up opportunities for local suppliers to gain a foothold into the formal economy, driving economic growth. That means even more momentum on investment, and greater social value within African countries. 

Companies which thrive in Africa now will gain a huge competitive advantage in the long-term.  

Risk

But for every opportunity in Africa, there’s also a potential risk.  

While infrastructure is improving, it’s generally still behind more established offshoring locations, and standards vary widely between countries, so it’s smart to pre-empt potential challenges in terms of telephony and communications. Further, in a continent with historic issues relating to debt, brands may also need to be alert to, and navigate away from, potential corruption issues, as well as the potential mismanagement and misappropriation of African aid. 

It all means that Africa is not a go-to destination for any brands seeking a ‘quick win.’ Firms don’t scale here by luck – they succeed by designing and implementing robust operating models, due diligence and governance, appropriate sourcing, investment back into the available capabilities, and nurturing a pipeline of management talent.  

The operating model we use in Africa, and across the world, is Webhelp Anywhere – a system which enables clients to standardise excellence at any location in a way that’s bespoke to the needs of their business, with a focus on six key pillars – talent, engagement, performance, technology, security, and resilience. We also deploy specialist teams, comprising global and local talent, into new countries to support the set-up and establishment of new services, the combined effect brings assurance to this process. 

Finally, I’d urge any firms considering their operating model strategy, entry into new territories, and business operations, to talk to brands like Webhelp, which have already overcome these challenges and established a presence in a number of countries in Africa. Leaders can save a lot of hassle by getting advice on how and where to invest, avoid pitfalls, and fulfil social value in a country with infinite opportunity.  

About the author

Craig Gibson

Craig Gibson, grew up in South Africa, was educated at Durban Technikon in South Africa and helped to develop the first major contact centre BPO offshore model in South Africa – working across the US, Middle East, UK, Europe and Africa.

A business he started in South Africa was later acquired by Webhelp, which accelerated his work to bridge the social divide in communities in which the company makes investments with its clients, alongside delivering world-class outcomes for them.

Today Craig leads the Webhelp Group’s growth efforts, working with clients to address their customer management needs, he lives in London.

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Fashion and ready-to-wear: 3 tips to help you make the most of the economic recovery

A quick analysis of the fashion and ready-to-wear market, plus 3 tips from Bertrand Mahon, VP Operation Logbox at Webhelp Payment Services, whose credit management network covers 35,000 shops and more than 400 brands; a unique economic vantage point.

What a lovely surprise! Back in autumn 2020, who would have placed any bets on the fashion and ready-to-wear sector being back up and running? So many bankruptcies, outstanding debts, mass unemployment, disaffected consumers… the media was dominated by grim predictions. And yet here we are in autumn 2021, and the indicators are pretty positive… excellent even: at Webhelp Payment Services, we’re even breaking records – our monthly sales figures for September 2021 are the best since our company was founded, in 1984!

Without claiming to replace the pollsters, our “surface area” means that we really understand these markets: we manage more than 400 brands and 35,000 ready-to-wear shops in Europe and the United States, as well as department stores and online retailers. In 2021, we expect to manage more than 600,000 invoices, equivalent to 1.3 billion EUR.

Based on this, we can say today that wholesale distribution networks in Europe & the United States have weathered the storm – no doubt due to the exceptional financial support that has been offered, and thanks to the fact that brands have managed to restructure some of their debts. And we can attest to the fact that the current levels of debts and disputes are neither extraordinary nor worrying.

A general picture that is totally different from the catastrophic situation in 2008-2009, for example. This time, the market has been managed well – that’s our first observation.

Digital players have benefited from the health crisis

Our second observation will be less surprising: digital players have been able to take advantage of a period during which in-store stopping was prohibited or limited. In addition, many department stores – and even retailers – were able to develop their online sales channel quickly. In the end, the sector sped up its digital transformation, and so new buyers were recruited. But the wholesale market has still done well in this complicated, competitive environment.

Admittedly, overall, we are not yet seeing the same levels of activity as “before”, in other words in 2019, but everything is pointing towards the fact that there is some new momentum, and that it would be a good idea to make the most of that.

For 2021, according to a study carried out by Euler Hermes, a partner of Webhelp Payment Services, a rebound of +14% is expected in the turnover of French textiles and clothing, but we won’t be going back to pre-crisis levels before 2023. As for marketplaces, they grew by +27%, so twice as fast as in 2019 (according to Fevad).

Let’s allow ourselves to dream a little: what if 2022 were to surpass the performance we saw in 2019? If you spend some time at trade shows, and according to our clients, that idea isn’t as crazy as it might seem!

Tip #1: don’t be timid

Faced with this new momentum, it’s a good idea not to hold back. During the crisis, brands and the wholesale market protected themselves from risk, including in particular by reducing the number of models or collections.
Now, we need to turn over a new leaf and get away from this “crisis mentality” that holds initiatives back. Although some supply chains have been disrupted, a return to normal is falling into place. And consumers – who have saved a lot of money in Europe – are rediscovering the desire to treat themselves, to step out of the gloom and even to build a better world.
Brands that are more daring will win market share. This is backed up by the spectacular growth seen in ethical, second-hand and eco-friendly fashion.

Tip #2: watch out for signs of impending failure

We know that there are some warning signs before a shop or a retailer defaults. That’s why we advise our clients to watch out for “weak signals” that indicate a potential breakdown. In particular, levels of debt and disputes should be closely monitored!

To that end, we have created indicators, alert thresholds and procedures to detect and mitigate financial risks.

Tip #3: take national and international payment practices into account

Our extensive experience of national and international markets backs up this advice – the crisis hasn’t changed anything in this area: you need to take into account the specific characteristics and payment habits of each country or economic area. The desire to impose “unique conditions”, with exactly the same payment deadline for all European countries, for example, runs the risk of significantly penalising your business.

To sum up, Webhelp Payment Services has unique quantitative and qualitative information: we have local bases and have been pooling millions of pieces of data from brands and stores for more than 30 years. That means that we understand what really happens with payments, depending on the stakeholders and the countries, in real time. This customer knowledge is a key asset when it comes to making the most of the recovery that lies ahead.

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Altnets are hitting our streets, but are they here to stay?

With vast investments currently being made by altnets on Fibre rollout, Peer Hackman, Managing Director, Telecommunication, Media & Technology at Webhelp looks at why CX differentiation will be key in the competitive UK “Gigabit” market

 

Waking up to the sound of loud drilling and excavators digging up the street is rarely a pleasant experience, but when this happened to me last week, I was happy to learn that the crew from G.Network had arrived to bring full-fibre broadband to the area.

Considering I live a stone’s throw from Google’s new King’s Cross head office and trendy Coal Drops Yard, it is somewhat disconcerting that we’ve been making do with copper delivering about 6 Mbps for the last 15 years. In fact, just one week before G.Network’s arrival, I’d switched to Virgin, hoping to prevent yet another video conferencing disaster.

Having worked in the telecommunications industry for years, I’m thrilled to see that the altnet boom is happening on our doorsteps. Still, is this a short-lived scramble for market share or a disruptive force that will push incumbent providers to compete on a new level? And what can altnets do to extend their longevity in the market?

The altnet push for market share

As they compete directly with only two incumbents, BT Openreach and Virgin Media, alternative networks (altnets) are spending vast amounts of money to claim their slice of the UK’s increasingly competitive “Gigabit” broadband connectivity market.

Whilst relative minnows compared to established players, alternative operators are fuelling growth and account for 57% of homes passed on a Europe-wide basis. UK FTTx altnets are also projected to reach almost 30 million UK homes by 2025, according to the sector’s trade body INCA.

Fibre rollout is accelerating fast, with investment from Openreach, Virgin, altnet providers, and their financial backers likely to exceed £30 billion by 2025. Still, there are significant challenges for independent network operators in their roles as network builders, wholesale vendors, and ISPs.

Challenges for altnets

New entrants to the UK broadband market have to deal with multiple hurdles like future market consolidation and price erosion, overbuild by incumbents, limited access to skilled labour, and the acquisition of land access rights. However, perhaps the biggest obstacle to their commercial success is creating awareness, generating high user satisfaction, and providing positive, differentiating customer experiences for their services.

OFCOM’s 2021 survey of UK broadband ISPs found that consumer broadband satisfaction rates have dropped by as much as 11% for some of the leading providers over the last five years. The COVID-19 challenge was a significant driver of these results. As such, altnet providers can pick up churn from Openreach, its partner ISPs, and Virgin, but “new” customer acquisition will be difficult.

Other issues altnet providers will face include service installation logistics, sourcing and set up for CPE (Customer Premises Equipment, such as routers), customer onboarding, high support requirements through surveying, frequently rescheduled installation appointments, and support over live and assisted channels.

All these factors—combined with Openreach and Virgin’s potentially aggressive wholesale pricing—negatively impact the business case and OPEX profile for altnets whilst affecting new ISPs’ and resale partners’ ability to provide superior customer experiences as competitive differentiators.

Strategies for tackling CX challenges

Assuming that altnet providers can overcome some of the supply-side and demand generation issues, here at Webhelp, we see three areas in particular in need of attention to ensure a best-in-class customer experience.

  • Ensuring reliable, consistent and resilient network QoS (Quality of Service) and QoE (Quality of Experience) after COVID-19 bottlenecks.
  • Better designed services, customer/employee journeys, and touchpoints to provide understanding, confidence, trust, and the ability (by the customer or the provider) to rapidly solve issues across the customer lifecycle.
  • Orchestration of support and engagement to deliver simple, straightforward, and easy-to-find omnichannel customer engagement pathways with first-touchpoint resolution and elimination of multiple handovers.

Let’s add some context to each of these areas and explore them in more detail.

Quality of Experience

With demand levels higher and reliance on TMT services increasing after COVID-19, broadband quality and consistency are top-of-mind when customers make their purchase decisions.

Additionally, as more digital and smart-home services that require resilient connectivity gain traction, providers must track both QoS and QoE and address them on a per-customer, per-service level. This approach can help altnets avoid costly customer service calls and truck rolls or prevent angry customer tweets, which can damage net promoter score (NPS) and word-of-mouth reputation.

To monetise the customer experience, avoid churn, and grow Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), altnet providers must focus on CX metrics, engagement tracking, as well as network KPIs whilst detecting and proactively addressing disconnections, slow response times, frame freezing, and similar issues. Analytics, AI, and customer education can help locate and predict poor QoE, whilst root cause analysis and rectification tracing can help address complaints related to network issues in the home (which is by far the majority).

Backup connectivity options are a positive interim step and may accelerate the growth of 5G FWA as the primary broadband household connection in the future. Still, it could threaten the profitability of fixed infrastructure investments unless providers can clearly articulate related use cases.

Customer journey/experience design and implementation

Once altnet providers have created demand amongst future paying customers—or RGUs as they’re known in the industry—it is crucial to design and implement customer journeys that enhance the frontend, omnichannel experience whilst seamlessly integrating with backend systems, including all relevant OSS & BSS business processes and components.

It is essential to involve customers at the beginning of this design process and throughout, as their input enables providers to improve complex processes, find new value streams, and enhance customer experience and product use.

Initiatives like customer-centric journey analysis, design and re-engineering, test and learn, and best-practice implementation frameworks (e.g. TMForum) can help take the sting out of service launches whilst enabling customers to become more capable of interacting digitally with websites and apps, setting up services, and solving issues themselves, ultimately keeping them happy and profitable.

Orchestrate digital and assisted customer support

Whilst most operators have been pushing for a digital-first approach to customer engagement, around 50% of consumers in all categories still state that “telephoning the call centre is the preferred contact method, regardless of query type”, according to a survey from EY.

The dichotomy here is that several customer segments would happily interact with apps or chatbots as long as a live advisor is available when required. However, voice support is up to 30 times more expensive than digital channels, so altnet providers must find the right balance between channel interactions to acquire, retain, and grow their customer base to more profitable levels.

To achieve better commercial and customer engagement outcomes at lower costs, operators must implement a flexible, scalable, and holistic support ecosystem that delivers exceptional experiences through all preferred customer interaction channels. However, getting there requires an understanding of the business’s current digital maturity and its prospective and existing customers.

Wrapping Up

Altnet providers have introduced momentum into a market that had been relatively static in the past. With government support through Project Gigabit injecting an additional £5 billion to support operators as they roll out across the final 20% of rural premises, growth of the sector is all but assured. However, competition will be tough for altnets, and consolidation is inevitable.

By offering “brilliant basics” that are easy to communicate and simple for customers to understand, along with resilient service performance, and straightforward sales, onboarding, and support journeys, altnet providers can almost certainly find success in the UK market.

Once my current contract has expired in 2023, I, for one, am eagerly looking forward to trying a new Gigabit, 100% full-fibre broadband service provider, having hopefully helped some of them to deliver outstanding customer experience and to grow successfully.


Webhelp to host talk at Retail Week’s Consumer Week 2022

We are delighted to confirm we are taking part in a fireside chat for Retail Week’s Consumer Week 2022.

 

Running from September 13 to 17, Consumer Week 2022 will allow retailers and brands to access exclusive strategic insights across free virtual masterclasses, exclusive consumer research and free online content to identify and influence tomorrow’s shopper.

Webhelp UK’s Chief Customer Solutions Officer, Helen Murray, will host a discussion with Bloom & Wild CEO, Aron Gelbard, to discuss direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales and how retailers can make their offerings stand out to shoppers in a crowded market.

In the chat, Helen – who is responsible for leading Webhelp UK’s business development function and the delivery of client differentiation through enhanced customer experience – will share insight on listening to customers and how maintaining a focus on customer experience is key to delivering sustainable growth.

Helen will also explore how partnerships can support brands to deliver brilliant customer experiences, exceptional brand advocacy and loyalty, all at scale.

Aron will share Bloom & Wild’s customer centric strategy for consistent growth, the changing DTC market and what to expect in the future as well as key learnings retailers can take from their journey.

Helen said: “I’m delighted to be taking part in Retail Week’s Consumer Week 2022 and to have the chance to hear first-hand from retailers about the challenges and opportunities they face in their interactions with shoppers as the sector continues to evolve.

“I’m particularly excited to host Bloom & Wild’s CEO for a fireside chat.  We’ll discuss the importance of listening to the customer and the positive impact this can have on customer experience, alongside understanding more about Bloom & Wild’s customer-focused approach to achieving consistent growth.”

The fireside chat, ‘Tapping into the DTC opportunity: Learning from a retail disruptor’, will be available to view from September 16 and will include questions from registrants throughout.

 

To register your place, visit retail-week.com/consumer-week.


Polyglot translation AI improves CX and optimizes performance

Webhelp’s proprietary machine translation solution equips advisors to deliver high-quality CX with up to +35 NPS improvement and up to 50% optimized performance

Webhelp continues to develop its proprietary technology platform with the recent addition of AI-fueled, people-powered translation technology. Polyglot empowers advisors to deliver high-quality messages in the customer’s native language.

Polyglot is supported by a hub of language experts who verify complex responses to guarantee quality and consistency. Over time, the AI engine continuously improves by adopting the client’s industry and business vocabulary while learning from feedback from our experts. Thanks to this human-tech combination, customers receive almost instant, relevant responses through chat, email, and social media channels.

As technology enablement is a strategic priority for Webhelp, solutions like Polyglot are essential to delivering high-quality CX at scale. Polyglot’s AI removes pressure on multilingual teammates, freeing up time to focus on actions that deliver value to customers and ensure the best talent is available when needed.

Polyglot has been integrated into existing operations to support numerous prominent Webhelp clients. Showing an average of +35 NPS enhancement in their multilingual customer experience, with an average 76% first-time response improvement that also delivers cost savings.

Emmanuel Saubat-Lalanne, Webhelp Group Technology Solutions Manager said:

“Whether a brand is looking to scale into new markets or increase customer support for rare and long-tail languages, maintaining quality CX in the customers’ native language will be key to sustaining growth. While supporting this key quality, Polyglot boosts productivity and supports quick service as a standard. Our integrated dashboards ensure our clients have oversight on their multilingual communication and efficient management across the business. By optimizing channels and resources, we’ve even seen that this smooth and consistent system helps manage absenteeism and attrition.” 

Polyglot was developed to facilitate high-quality multilingual interactions by supporting Webhelpers with market-leading translation engines and machine-learning algorithms.

Delivering average efficiency savings of 50%, Polyglot gives advisors more time to focus on value-added work for customers, leading to a higher-quality customer and employee experience.

To read more about how Polyglot can be integrated into omnichannel operations to deliver a consistent, multilingual customer experience at scale, head to the page on our website.

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