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.

SHARE

Lighting our way to “Our greener future”

As part of our on-going aim to reduce energy consumption and in line with our Greenhelp targets, we are thrilled to see our Derby site switching to 100% LED lighting. The project will see the site using 100% energy efficient lights, which will considerably reduce consumption and continuously improve energy management across our estate.

Advantages of LED Lights:

  • 25% – 80% less energy consumption
  • 3 – 5 times longer lifespan
  • Negligible heat emissions

It’s amazing to learn how much we are cutting down on our carbon footprint as an organisation by just replacing the lights at Derby and we can continue to further reduce this with your support. If a light is turned on and no one is there – you could turn it off and make a great impact to our carbon footprint.

 

Installation of the LED lights began on Monday 2nd of August. While the project was greenlit way back at the beginning of 2020, the onset of Covid-19 delayed plans so it’s fantastic to see a return to action on our green initiatives.

With our Falkirk and Glasgow Hope Street sites almost at 100% LED lighting, we will be looking to upgrade more sites around the region to this more efficient and environmentally friendly option.​

 

Webhelp UK is progressing on our journey to improve our environmental performance. We are truly committed to “Our Greener Future” and this initiative is a positive step towards enhancing our environment.


Webhelp’s internal trainer development program validated by City & Guilds

Our Operational Learning & Development team always aim to deliver the highest level of service for our colleagues across the region, so that means making sure our trainers are supported to be the best they can be.

Based on feedback from our annual survey Your Call, the L&D team were inspired to develop an internal trainer development program that offers a 9 to 12 month evidence led, blended-learning model to enable our trainers to become learning professionals, honing their skills and delivery. Now after collaborating with the City & Guilds Group, a global leader in skills development, the program has been validated. This now means that our colleagues who train others as part of their role, can work towards a professional qualification accredited by the City & Guilds.

Declan Hogan, Director of Learning & Development, commented:

“Our front-line facilitators are central to our operational learning strategy on our journey to 2024. This program challenges our people to enhance the way they look at designing and creating learning content, expand their skills into facilitation/coaching skills and embedding practices. Learning stakeholder management skills to partner the Operations to deliver key objectives is also a key part of their learning journey. I am excited and proud of the gifted Operational L&D team that scoped this program and look forward to seeing the success over the next 18-24 months”

Our first cohort of pioneers have already started their journey and we will keep you updated on their progress.

Sam Egerton UK Sales manager, City and Guilds:

“City & Guilds has been at the forefront of skills development for over 140 years, and we are proud to provide assurance to Webhelp’s Trainer Development programme. To gain City & Guilds assurance is an extremely rigorous process and Webhelp operational Learning did so really quickly and seamlessly, this demonstrates the quality of the programme the front-line facilitators will be working towards. We look forward to seeing all the learners progressing and proudly sharing their Digital Credentials once they have completed their programmes of learning”


Webhelp expands operations in Mexico

Webhelp, a leading global customer experience and business solutions provider, is expanding its operations in Mexico. Built on a strong people-first working culture, Webhelp has a diverse global workforce of over 80,000 passionate game-changers. Since opening its multilingual hub in Mexico in 2020 the business has welcomed 285 colleagues to deliver Technical Helpdesk Services in Monterrey, Mexico.

Webhelp is looking to onboard a mix of customer service and service desk advisors, team leaders and operational managers. Those joining will become an integral part of an exciting partnership in enriching the customer experience and providing business solutions for our clients. To apply, visit the careers section of www.webhelp.com

Rogelio Aguirre, Head of Service Operations in Monterrey, saying:

Here in Mexico we are very happy to continue the success that Webhelp has shown around the world.  We are excited to implement industry best practices as we continue delivering a world class service through putting people first, which is one of our main pillars as an organizational culture. Investing in our colleagues and making business more human leads to a better customer experience.

Externally credited and with multiple global award wins, Webhelp people are known as being some of the best in the industry. Driven by a unique vision and company culture of making business more human, the expansion into Mexico marks a number of recent additions to Webhelp’s strong best-shoring network.

Partner to some of the world’s most exciting brands, Webhelp will utilize its 20 years of expertise and global way of working to further drive the strong success of the CX industry in Mexico while creating job opportunities for talented Mexicans in this field with Global Executive Director of ITO Andy Webster explaining:

As a business we set ourselves apart by being passionate about the local communities in which we’re based and we’re extremely excited to have a Mexican hub. There are many benefits to operating from here, not only are we further diversifying our business, but we’re able to bring a wealth of knowledge and highly qualified specialists based in Mexico to our growing list of clients around the world.

We thrive on making a difference in the lives of people and businesses by bringing together passionate, fun-loving people and giving them the freedom and tools they need to look after our clients’ customers as if they were their own. Our teams look forward to connecting with our new colleagues in Mexico and making sure they feel part of the Webhelp family. 

Note to Editors:

For more information please contact:

For Spanish inquiries, please contact:


5 Mistakes start-ups should avoid when building their B2B sales engine

When creating a B2B startup, a solid sales strategy is obviously a critical success factor.

Rushing to build your B2B sales strategy or missing some key processes in your sales team training or target identification processes could undermine your initial efforts to build your product and promote it.

Whether you’re looking to acquire your first customers or to improve your sales operations in a period of strong growth, here are some mistakes to avoid when establishing your B2B sales engine, picked by our expert Julie Cadalen


Webhelp Oneshot Technology CX

Discover the 7th edition of our OneShot magazine on Technology

Our 7th edition of the OneShot is here!

Download your OneShot Magazine

Webhelp Oneshot Technology Customer Experience Relation

“Let’s talk about the well-being of your customers and employees. Because well-being has become a central challenge for brands.
At Webhelp, we believe digital technology must be oriented around this axis. Technology can really make life easier, to the benefit of both women and men.
As you will discover in these pages, today there is a lot of evidence of its effectiveness – and not only in the context of the «maintaining of bonds» that we are going through.
There are also new avenues that deserve to be actively explored, And this is what we are doing, with and for you, as part of numerous experiments.
What is the goal of our Technology department? To make technology an ally, entirely to benefit the well-being of your customers and employees.
An exciting project!”

Discover through this 7th edition technological innovations that humanize customer relations, facilitating the work of our advisors, and always to the benefit of final customers.

You will also find testimonies and advice from experts: Massimo Dutti, Vattenfall, Samsung…

What are the latest technological trends that are worth a look?

What are the conditions for successful technology integration?

And let’s not forget Webhelp’s vision and ambition: transparency, security, data and, of course, the human touch.

Summary

  • A word – SXO
  • A number – Zero
  • Three opinions – Technologies that humanize the customer experience (Yan Noblot, Massimo Dutti, Vattenfall)
  • Some info – How Toyota operates predictive customization ?
  • A demo – Home: a place to live, a place to sell
  • A B-case – How Webhelp proposed and deployed an intelligent tool… to facilitate the work of Samsung Electronics advisors
  • A hashtag – #VideoChat
  • An offer – Telecats, the voice of the customer as a path to action
  • A meeting – the WorldSummit AI
  • A conversation – A weapon of seduction to re-enchant commerce in the city
  • A story – Lego : in what world are you playing?
  • A perspective – For efficient and benevolent technologies

SHARE

Coaching & feedback in a remote environment

We recently joined an online event exclusively for CCMA members where we discussed our experience of maintaining quality of coaching when forced into remote working. Representatives from a number of brands were in attendance, including Co-Op, DVLA and John Lewis. Representing Webhelp was our own Jamie-Lee Stewart, Director of Quality & Customer Experience.

In the round table, we discussed how coaching & feedback processes apply to working from home, ways to support staff, and how colleagues have responded. The aim of the session was to share best practice as Quality professionals, in order to optimise delivery of key quality & coaching processes in a working from home environment.

A very interactive conversation took place, with breakout sessions to encourage discussion and collaboration. We uncovered obstacles in the current remote environment and together developed a new strategy for success.

Challenges and successes

Having discussed our hybrid experiences, it was clear to see what works well in remote working.

Feedback is that one area on which we all felt we have taken positive steps, to adapt and improve our quality & coaching processes to enable & ensure engagement and responsiveness when coaching remotely.

However, despite the positive outcomes there were several challenges identified. Coaching at home can be impersonal and makes it difficult to assess if staff are engaged, particularly if you have no camera. Quick coaching sessions are no longer possible – you have to establish a relationship to have an open an honest conversation, which is tricky when coaching from a distance.

There is also difficulty when it comes to injecting fun, as there are limitations on how interactive you can be on a Teams call as opposed to face-to-face. Structure is essential to effective coaching, but adopting the motivation to follow structure can be hard for staff when faced with distractions at home.

Time is another factor – in-office, it’s possible to deliver “in the moment”, personal 1-1 coaching. This isn’t possible in a work from home environment, so coaching necessarily more structured and timely.

While working from home is convenient and allows you to balance home life effectively, it can be difficult to manage staff. You cannot see if someone is struggling or if someone is underutilized. You have to rely on video call to engage and trust that colleagues are performing to the best of their ability.

It is evident that there can be challenges when it comes to remote coaching, but with the right structure and processes in place we can build an agile hybrid model.

The “new better”

As a group, we looked at new approaches for a new working model and agreed that “New better” is a better goal than “New normal.” The focus should lean more towards positivity, with more emphasis on employee emotion and wellbeing. For example, coaching and feedback is too formal whereas ‘job chat’ is more relaxed. Adapting our quality framework to ensure we are capturing the right areas of opportunity is fundamental.

We identified a coach as a “professional friend”, rather than someone who tells you what to do, although boundaries are still essential to a healthy relationship – as is knowing how to signpost the coachee.

In addition, technology plays an important role when remote working and should be used more effectively, leveraging those features available to you – particularly for virtual coaching sessions where using chat, breakout rooms and polls can improve learning.

As a leader, you must offer emotional support and empathy. You must understand the person’s feelings and show that you have their best interest at heart, especially during uncertain times. Agreeing the ‘rules of engagement’ is key in terms of coaching interactions, and enabling an effective coaching conversation. Therefore, one thing we cannot overlook is asking the right questions. When coaching you should address any concerns and ensure staff feel comfortable, while maintaining a positive, approachable manner.

Finally, an agreed joint agenda is essential to ensure a clear structure is in place, as well as documenting goals to keep track of progress.

Sharing the lessons learned in the move to a hybrid model allowed us to identify a ‘New Normal’ approach, which we can incorporate into our organisation to build a robust, agile strategy for 2021.

SHARE

Fashion Tech – Reshaping customer experience for your start up

Fashion has always been playground for innovation. The acceleration of fashion tech forces brands to rethink their digital channels and relationship with customers. Fashion players strive to develop the technologies that will differentiate themselves, internally or through partnerships with the latest tech startups. In this article, we have included several exciting fashion tech businesses to follow that support major fashion players reshaping their customer experience!

SHARE