Content Moderation - why every boomtown needs a sheriff!

As online engagement will be the next boomtown for customer experience, Andrew Hall, Director of Strategic Engagements, Webhelp UK region, looks at the future of this new frontier and how content moderation will be critical to protect brands and users.

Andrew Hall - content moderation boomtown - Twitter

Back in 1996, when the internet and social media as we know it now was pure science fiction, Bill Gates wrote a pivotal essay entitled ‘Content is King’ saying:

“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.” And he realised the new freedom for self-expression that this would provide by adding; “One of the most exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create.”[1]

Fast forward to today, and across every conceivable social platform, the internet is now heaving with content marketing – from thought leadership, brand videos, sponsorship, influencer tie-ins and stories promoting everything from consumer goods to dating services.

And, accelerated by the physical limitations introduced by COVID-19, this new digital frontier is still growing. In the UK for example, in June 2020 Ofcom reported a substantial rise in the incidence of social media accounts on platforms like WhatsApp (70%, up from 61% in 2018), Instagram (43%, up from 38% in 2018), and YouTube (42%, up from 35% in 2018).[2]

And although the shadow cast by the mountain of Facebook (forecast to hit 1.7 billion users worldwide by the close of 2020) continues to dominate this landscape, it now shares engagement time with multiple platforms.

So, it’s clear that navigating this expanding territory could be a rough ride for many companies, with this gold-rush of new users, bringing fresh disruptions and challenges.

We know that it is vitally important to reach your customers where there are most active, and as McKinsey reports, that is now online:

“Demand patterns have shifted. Overall online penetration in China increased by 15–20 percent. In Italy, e-commerce sales for consumer products rose by 81 percent in a single week, creating significant supply-chain bottlenecks. Customers need digital, at-home, and low-touch options. Digital-led experiences will continue to grow in popularity once the coronavirus is quelled, and companies that act quickly and innovate in their delivery model to help consumers navigate the pandemic safely and effectively will establish a strong advantage.”[3]

It’s clear that any new delivery model must include Content Moderation, and as digital-experiences assume more importance in our lives, user-generated content (UGC) will undoubtedly continue to grow in impact and variety.

In simple terms, content moderation helps companies monitor, analyse and respond to UGC including comments, reviews, videos, social media posts or forum discussions, using predefined criteria and legal boundaries to establish suitability for publication.

As Webhelp Group Senior Director of Content Management and Moderation Solutions, Chloé de Mont-Serrat, explains:

“Leveraging user-generated content is fast becoming a powerful and flexible tool to raise brand recognition and enhance customer trust, especially in the booming e-commerce industry. Consumer content is instrumental in influencing both purchase decision making and in the uptake, visibility and popularity of brands online.”

“However, despite these benefits, utilising externally produced content is not without risk, especially for companies that are unaware of the detrimental impact this can have on the user perspective of the brand if not properly managed.”

Source: Content Moderation for Dating Applications

And the danger is that, when left unmanaged UGC can permanently damage brand reputation and revenues, leaving the barn door open for harmful content like flame wars, online abuse, mounting customer complaints, unsuitable imagery, fake news, fraud and cyber bulling. Not to mention clearing the field for automated spam content, troll farms and false reviews. 

Controlling and making the most of this vitally important demographic is where, much like a local sheriff looking after the townsfolk and wellbeing of the community, content moderation becomes key to creating healthy, responsive two-way engagement that benefits the brand and protects all the users.

The research article ‘Re-humanizing the platform: Content moderators and the logic of care’ describes content moderators as;

“The hidden custodians of platforms, the unseen and silent guardians who maintain order and safety by overseeing visual and textual user-generated content.”[4]

The report highlights, as we believe at Webhelp, that thinking human and maintaining empathy and insight, should be a critical and creative factor in current and future platform arrangements.

Webhelp’s recent research paper Reimagining Service for the New World a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, spotlights the tensions and challenges between the need to be simultaneously both more digital and more human. As companies are increasingly being tasked to deliver seamless, technology-enabled, and experience-led service across multiple channels, while demonstrating transparency and creating genuine and deep emotional connections with customers.

And, with 78% of leaders agreeing that customers will be paying much closer attention to their business practices, maintaining a human face online, especially in reacting to confrontational or illegal content, will become more important than ever.

At Webhelp we are passionate about supporting our clients through their content moderation challenges, and have guided them through a range of topics; such as identifying under-age members, inappropriate images, tackling online harassment and preventing accounts being used as a platform for illegal activity such as scams and fraud.

We protect brand reputation and enhance user experience, mobilising effective and skilled teams with specific sector experience. They utilise both their human judgement and cutting edge analytical services to effectively police and nurture online communities, providing growth for the brand and safety for the user.

Later blogs will focus on specific industry moderation pain points and the best ways to correct them, but for now we leave you with this thought;

“There’s a new sheriff in town – and they’re called called Webhelp!”

 

To discover more about customer experience models post COVID-19 read our new Whitepaper, a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, on Reimagining service for the new World which is underpinned by our unique industry perspective alongside new research to discover the operating models of the future. Or read our new paper exploring the Content Moderation pain points in the Dating application sector and the way towards a more comprehensive and game changing solution.


Recommerce

Recommerce on the surge: Why second-hand stores are booming

Why is recommerce on the rise? and why are marketplaces such as VINTED, thredUP or Poshmark thriving in this business model? Is it just trendy, cost effective, sustainable or a mix of all these that explains the current surge? Tomorrow’s personalization and customer journeys are expected to be even smarter, more immersive, more trust-enabling than they are today. The question is: Are brands and consumers ready? Here is an analysis from Olivier Carrot, Global Business Unit Direct, Retail & E-commerce.

Recommerce - Olivier Carrot

So which are some of the factors that have contributed to this increase?

  • Rise in the use of mobile devices. The accessibility of mobile devices globally has essentially contributed to the growth of e-commerce thanks to the increased reach which has consequently increased the sales. According to Aaron Orendorff – Forbes Top 10 B2B Content Marketer, e-commerce has helped businesses launch beyond borders reaching out to millions of new potential customers. By 2023, an increase of 276.9% in the total global sales in retail is projected with APAC taking the lead (source: shopify.com).
    The easy accessibility of mobile phones and internet has definitely elevated the demand of recommerce as a service. This surge has seen many start- ups joining the bandwagon to not only meet the growing demand but also to take advantage of the efficiency and scalability that marketplaces provide.
    Through the creation of an application that links second-hand products to customers, VINTED has grown from being owned by its two co-founders Milda and Justas to an organization that employs more than 450 people and unites a community of 25 million people.
  • Personalized customer experiences. In reference to platforms like VINTED, personalized services that match customers preferences are highly sought after. Customers want to feel valued and there is no better way than to offer a personalized experience. Even though many consumers are in search of products being offered at discounted or affordable prices, they will not compromise on the experience. Brands are thus competing not only on price but also on offering the most memorable experience to their customers.
  • Old is new again. Founded in 2009 as a swapping company for men’s shirts’ thredUP is a huge consumer marketplace that flaunts over 35,000 brands. In one of his keynotes, CEO and co-founder James Reinhart forecasts sales of upto $51 billion from the second-hand apparel market by 2023 (source yahoo.com)
    In reality, people buy twice as many clothes and wear them half as long. If one can buy a branded item for half the price of the new, why not? There is a growing trend to transform consumption through reuse. And so as to keep up with the changing environment in the retail industry, integrating a resale option in traditional retail outlets is seen to boost the overall sales. Customers are sparked to spend 21% more and visit 70% more frequently. James attributes the massive increase in the visiting percentage to the fact that second hand collection is restocked every two weeks whereas in the traditional format, new collection arrives between four to six times a year (source: www.thredup.com)
  • Cost friendly. Pocket friendly purchases is a big driver in the recommerce boom. Customers are increasingly seeing the value in buying recycled brand-name products for huge discounts. “Recommerce has seen a tremendous upsurge” says Steven Bethell, founder of Bank & Vogue – a firm that specializes in the logistics of selling used goods and operates a sister company called Beyond Retro. Prior to making a purchase, many shoppers aquent themselves with the resale possibilities of items they wish to buy with the plan to resell them in the near future. The retail industry is seeing a continued shift with the majority of consumers shopping smarter.
  • Sustainability. The new affluent generations like the Gen Z are more environmental and social conscious and as such, they expect brands to be more ethical and sustainable in their production processes. Fashion brands that have this audience as their customer base, are obliged to revamp their business models to be able to not only attract but most definitely also retain this segment.
    VINTED is one such brand. By investing on its brand ethos which is providing a platform for purchasing and selling of second-hand clothes. These clothes reduce the environmental impact of Co2 levels that are usually released in the production of new clothes (think water, chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides). In addition, it prolongs the shelf life of clothes that would otherwise head to the dumping sites in one or two years. It’s estimated that 600 kilograms of used clothes would lead to a reduction of 2250 kilograms of Co2 emissions, 3.6 billion liters of water saved, and 144 trees planted. (www.smartgreenpost.com).

At Webhelp, our clients are at the heart and our core objective is to ensure that their customers experience world class service in every touchpoint. The creation and upholding of a sustainable environment also go hand in hand with what our company stands for.

In our endeavor to always provide seamless interactions, we go the extra mile to guarantee that customers’ needs are met. We focus on making the purchase process in the marketplaces as simple and fulfilling as possible 

Our flawless and memorable customer journey from order management to returns and replacements is swiftly executed with our dedicated service specialist who are located globally in the different hubs. 

And thanks to the booming second-hand industry, content management and moderation is also on high demand. Ever thought of outsourcing your content moderation? Our highly experienced offshore content moderators ensure that our clients’ brands are duly protected across their target audience. We support our clients’ to not only maintain their brand integrity, but also to shield their customers from inappropriate, aggressive or illegal content.  

Are you looking for an experienced partner who will help you take your marketplace to the next level? Get in touch to receive your tailormade solution: Olivier Carrot.


Taking a human centred approach to cyber security

In response to the evolving cyber challenge in the post-COVID-19 landscape, Here James Allen, Chief Risk & Technology Officer for the Webhelp UK Region, considers the way that risk in customer service has evolved and reveals the steps Webhelp has taken to protect its clients and people, with a human centred approach to cyber security.

The humanitarian crisis brought by COVID-19 undoubtedly caused rapid and universal disruption to businesses across the global stage; impacting economies, and leaving some companies struggling to maintain business continuity, whilst increasingly vulnerable to unscrupulous cyber criminals.

In fact, the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime division has reported evidence of a substantial rise in malicious activity (specific to the topic of COVID-19) in areas like phishing, malware, ransomware, infrastructure attacks, targeting teleworking employees to gain system access, fraud schemes (fake medicines and goods), misinformation and fake news.

In July, Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, published that victims had already lost over £11 million to COVID-19 related scams.

Consequently, the pandemic has put an intense spotlight on personal cyber practices, especially as working from home (without proper measures) can create more risk than the traditional controlled office environment. Similarly, Tech Republic reported that, from phishing attacks to malware, 71% of security professionals have been recording increased security threats or attacks since the COVID-19 outbreak, and as a result many countries and companies have been spurred into rapid action.

In the UK more than 80 coronavirus-related phishing and scam websites were taken down in just one day after the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) asked for the public to report suspicious emails. Existing takedown services, in one month alone, removed more than 2,000 online scams related to coronavirus, including 471 fake online shops, 555 malware distribution sites, 200 phishing sites and 832 advance-fee frauds. NCSC chief executive officer Ciaran Martin believes that the rise in technology use is making online safety more critical, saying:

 “Technology is helping us cope with the coronavirus crisis and will play a role helping us out of it – but that means cybersecurity is more important than ever,”   Source: Zdnet.com

 And, according to PWC, 80% of UK CEOs are concerned about the risk of cyber threats to their business, it is the issue they are most worried about, above skills (79%) and the speed of technological change (75%).

Revealingly, just under half of UK CEOs (48.4%) have taken some action regarding their own personal digital behaviour, including deleting social media or requesting a company to delete their data.

This is a worrying trend, which was noticeable even prior to the current crisis, as (according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) 2019 saw a 350% increase in ransomware attacks, a 250% increase in spoofing or business email compromise (BEC) attacks and a 70% increase in spear-phishing attacks in companies overall.

Furthermore, the average cost of a cyber-data breach rose from $4.9 million in 2017 to $7.5 million in 2018. Likewise, worldwide spending on cyber security increased by over 20% during 2017-2019 ($101Bn – $124Bn) and inevitably these costs will continue to rise, but without addressing the human behaviours contributing to this trend, much of this investment could be wasted.

And behaviour change is the key, as research firm Proofpoint revealed that a staggering 99% of threats observed relied on human interaction like enabling a macro, opening a file, following a link, or opening a document – highlighting the role of social engineering in enabling successful attacks, and the importance of knowledge as the top factor for prevention.

A recent FirstData study revealed that 60% of individuals are currently concerned about online security, and feel the need to do more to protect themselves. But information on how to do this is clearly absent, as over a quarter of those asked were entirely uninformed about the subject.

We know that the pandemic has led to record numbers of individuals now working from home – often without prior knowledge and experience of safe remote working practices and the potential security risks.  And, this situation is complicated by the fact that too often companies publish complex security policies, which are difficult to understand for the regular user.

As a people-first company, Webhelp is committed to a human centred approach to Cyber Security, aiming to provide all our people with the essential skills to keep them and their families safe online.

From the start it was clear that education was critical to delivering this goal. We recognised a need for clear and simple guidelines, put forward in an engaging and easy to follow manner, to help employees gain insight and confidence in recognising and protecting themselves against potential scams and take action when approaching cyber security.

So, in 2020 we launched our Cyber Super Heroes Campaign, designed to make complex security advice simple and accessible to all colleagues. This campaign talked to these issues in a humorous yet informative voice, and our activity has accelerated to support our colleagues through a time when cyber threats were increasing.

Focusing on a different topic every fortnight, guidance has been delivered across multiple channels including on site, email, social media, the employee intranet, desktops and screen savers and by using digital animations and posters.

Our people were also given the opportunity to get involved by becoming a Webhelp Cyber Superhero, through signing up for in-depth additional information to better champion the cause to their teammates and families.

The campaign has covered a full spectrum of cyber security topics including:

  • Phishing
  • Safe Passwords
  • Physical Security, both at work and at home
  • Keeping safe online
  • Social Engineering
  • Malware
  • Social Media
  • Keeping kids safe online
  • Safe Online Banking
  • Keeping your devices secure when you’re out and about
  • Cookies

Finally, to add a truly human face to our campaign, personal stories from volunteers in our business were shared. Colleagues were extremely keen to highlight their experiences and offered heartfelt advice to their colleagues, with the goal of really delivering a relatable message that Cyber scams can and do happen, and that together we can make our online activity safer, both in our workplaces and in our homes.

However, the work doesn’t stop there as Head of Cyber & Privacy for Webhelp UK Region, Chris Underhill, explains:

“The cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving, requiring businesses to monitor threats, adapt to change and deal with incidents swiftly. As part of my new role in Webhelp, I will be supporting our international teams and clients with cutting edge cyber intelligence, training, technology and consultancy services that not only help secure organisations against a growing number of threats but also to provide professional, certified level assurance to help secure business as usual against a backdrop of regulation, uncertain times and new working conditions.

 It’s clear that threats facing businesses extend well beyond the network perimeter and a move towards a new ‘human centric’ approach to cyber security is required to protect critical assets from compromise. Webhelp are committed to supporting our teams and clients using the very best in technology and educational programmes that will provide a robust suite of solutions across industry.”

Agility and innovation in risk has been crucial to managing the pace of change during the pandemic, so despite the challenges brought by COVID, fear must not stand in the way of progress. This is something that will be explored further in a forthcoming blog for the #servicereimagined series.

 

To discover more about customer service models post COVID-19 read our new Whitepaper, a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, on Reimagining service for the new world which is underpinned by our unique industry perspective alongside new research to discover the operating models of the future.


Webhelp and The Very Group

Collaboration with our clients is second nature to Webhelp, and we are excited to work with partners who are aligned to our culture of ‘Think Human’, and who are innovators and game-changers themselves. Here we reveal the joint approach taken with The Very Group, a major player in the online retail and financial services industry.

Webhelp and The Very Group

Joining the discussion were Suzanne Edmondson, Head of Global Customer Operations and Lucie Child, Strategy Manager for Customer Care from The Very Group, and Kellyann McCafferty, Account Director at Webhelp UK Group and Morne Amos, Head of Operations for Webhelp SA.

  • What was the starting position of The Very Group, and your outlook before the onset of COVID-19?

Suzanne Edmondson (The Very Group):

So, like any major organization we had a strong development roadmap in place for the future. However, unlike other companies, our brand has a fairly unique proposition, as we blend being an online digital retailer with offering an integrated credit function.

So, while we could be compared to services like Amazon, we give quite a different package to our customers, 95% of our customer base uses the credit function to access goods. A large proportion of revenue is driven through our financial services proposition. We’re attractive to customers, who value the ability to spread the cost, and brand partners, whose products are accessible a new customer base through credit.

Prior to COVID-19, we were comfortable that we were providing a compelling service to our customer base, and delivering our purpose to make good things easily accessible to more people.

Lucie Child (The Very Group):

I’d agree. Customers can access credit from numerous places, but we offer a really integrated and clear approach: a one stop solution for their retail credit needs. And most importantly, we put the data and the knowledge we have about our customers at the heart of our service. As a result, our customers appreciate the ability to spread the cost, to have some breathing space and take the pressure off, while still being able to give their families the things they want too.

 

  • How has COVID changed the landscape and the way you continue to service the market?

Suzanne Edmondson (The Very Group):

Our strategy hasn’t changed. We are seeing an upswing in customers, which aligns with our goal to bring on board more highly engaged customers in the new financial year. That’s harder than it sounds as we have a large, loyal and active customer base and aim to bring in new customers with the same level of engagement.
However, this success was not only due to our credit function, but the availability of product and speed of delivery – something which was very important to families under lockdown. For example, trying to buy a barbecue that would actually arrive before the sunshine disappeared!

 

  • Do you have any insight to share on the service provided by Webhelp prior to COVID?

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

Prior to COVID-19, we saw the conclusion of the most successful seasonal peak yet. Performance was high and Q1 was healthy across the board (with service credits given for the period), and there was a very strong trajectory in the last two quarters.

Suzanne Edmondson (The Very Group):

Our metrics are all based on customer outcomes. During COVID-19 as you can imagine, we had a few peaks and troughs, especially prior to establishing our homeworking solution. However, at TVG we live and die by TNPS, which is the touch point Net Promoter Score (NPS) that measures customer satisfaction post interaction. Over this period this metric reached 30+, which was phenomenal given the circumstances.
First contact resolution within a seven day period remained high; it was strong at 73%+ going into COVID-19 and remained above 70% throughout, which is again fantastic. And given the diverse operational, fulfilment and logistical challenges faced this was a significant achievement.

Morne Amos (Webhelp):

Prior to COVID, an innovative impact sourcing strategy was in action for TVG for their seasonal peak, a key success story for the partnership. I believe that this fantastic initiative between TVG, Webhelp and Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator has delivered the most innovative impact sourcing strategy in South African history.

 

  • Do you have anything to share on the operational approach during COVID, for example how and when our partnership reacted – any standout examples, or challenges?

Suzanne Edmondson (The Very Group):

To be honest, I think the biggest challenge was the incredible pace. There are issues when you do anything with that level of hastiness, simply because you are forced to make so many decisions in one day.  Normally we have time to calculate, consider and combine approaches; however, by necessity leaders were working incredibly swiftly in both organisations, over different directions and geographies. This created some challenging conversations. But any partnership would have faced the same hurdles, considering the unprecedented nature of the situation.

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

With the estate covering multiple territories in the UK, South Africa and India, we had to react to three lockdowns in parallel, all of which had connected consequences. There was significant impact across the whole partnership, but I am extremely proud of the way we managed to minimise disruption whilst also launching a new virtual centre in the UK.
We knew these issues were coming based on what we had seen happening in other countries so before lockdown restrictions in the UK were initiated, we agreed with TVG to set up over 140 employees to work from home in Glasgow. Kit was shipped to homes, virtual assessments were completed and systems testing was successfully rolled out. A massive collective effort from the team enabled us to do this in less than 10 days.
Faced with a different environment in South Africa we made the decision to delay the move to working from home and bolstered the team in the UK by virtually recruiting and training over 70 additional colleagues into TVG. This was a huge success for the partnership, as the team provided support and flexibility to the existing infrastructure. Within the next three weeks we were then able to mobilize over 270 colleagues in South Africa to work from home, with kit, in a fully compliant environment.
As restrictions in South Africa started to ease, the team were able to bring a further 100 colleagues into the office – which we set up according to strict government guidelines.
I have to say that the commitment shown from all of our people both in Webhelp and in TVG was incredible, going above and beyond to make sure that we were never behind the curve.

Morne Amos (Webhelp):

On the people front, it’s one thing to have the intent to think human and it’s another to put investment behind it, so a high-point for me was to see that our board was quite intentional about putting people first, despite the significant economics in play. And that was clear in all decisions; like providing transport and equipment, making sure there was investment into health and safety precautions, mask provision and temperature checks in the office.

 

  • Thoughts for the future and how the market will react, given the negative financial forecasts?

Suzanne Edmondson (The Very Group):

I think we are now in a really strong position. We’ve started to get a rhythm and routine, and performance and productivity is virtually on par with pre-pandemic levels.
I feel that, regardless of whether or not you’re looking at our virtual team set up within the UK, or those working from home or the office in South Africa – the level of adoption, flexibility and determination to be able to deliver the great outcomes for our customers is phenomenal.
And yes, there were teething problems, of course, but nothing that we’ve not been able to lean into and crack on with. But, you know, ultimately, I’m really pleased with where we currently are, I couldn’t ask for anything more – the team are doing a fantastic job.

Lucie Child (The Very Group):

We have some confidence that our business model is quite recession proof, because as I mentioned earlier, we do give people that breathing space. However, how the market will react to the traditionally important retail events like Black Friday remains to be seen.

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

On the operational side, I feel that homeworking, rotational, blended and hybrid working models will all become more important as we move into the next phase of business after COVID. From a peak point of view it will offer us much more flexibility, and we are building this into the partnership for the future.

Lucie Child (The Very Group):

Absolutely, we are looking at various models, reinforced by the feedback that we’ve got from our people in a recent survey. Their response to homeworking was very positive; they valued the extra time it gave them with their families, less commuting and more flexibility.
You know, if someone had told us six months ago that we’d have managed to make this transformation happen so quickly while delivering great customer outcomes, and looking after all our people, I’d have thought it was impossible.
Yet we pulled together, we had the right attitude. We made it happen. And that is actually exciting because we’ve got empowerment; and we’ve got the right people, so the question is – how do we harness that in the future?

 

To discover more about customer service models post COVID-19 read our new Whitepaper, a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, on Reimagining service for the new world which is underpinned by our unique industry perspective alongside new research to discover the operating models of the future.


Webhealth KM Challenge

WebHEALTH KM Challenge has travelled beyond the Earth to raise funds for STEPtember!

Webhelp launched its biggest WebHEALTH challenge yet, reuniting thousands of Webhelpers from across the world around one common goal; travelling the circumference of the world through exercise in just 30 days.​ We’ve now hit the halfway mark of our time to complete the WebHEALTH KM Challenge, and have smashed our initial goals far beyond!

In just 15 days, we’ve not only travelled the circumference of the world, we’ve also gone around the moon for a total of 50.996KM!
Back on earth, some of our participants are getting very creative in adding kilometers, like our colleague Tor Andre, a customer service representative based in Malaga who took his Webhelp spirit to the next level!

Besides having fun and working on our fitness as a community, there’s a bigger reason behind our dedication to this challenge.
As a company determined to make business more human, Corporate Social Responsibility is highly important to us.
For many, being able to exercise or even simply walk might be an entirely normal thing, but unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. ​
One of the many reasons we launched this initiative is to sponsor important charities such as STEPtember, a global initiative to raise funds for critical Cerebral Palsy research.​
Cerebral Palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood that in various degrees hinders its patients’ from living a normal life.

Webhelp has joined many major global and local corporations to raise funds through the STEPtember initiatives to support research that could truly change many patients’ lives.​
To find out more please visit www.steptember.us.

Here is what Sandrine Asseraf, Group Managing Director, People & Business Development – Legal & Compliance and Dominique Chatelin, President of Supervisory board Webhelp Payment Services had to say about the initiative:

How does Webhelp and sponsoring charities fit together?

Sandrine Asseraf: Our Think Human approach means that we take care of our people and their health. We look after each other and also the communities we live in. Participating or funding the associations in our communities which contribute to changing the life of people, is part of our commitment to positively impact our societies. The KM Challenge is not just Webhelp supporting an amazing cause, it is each Webhelper playing their part in making business more human – inside and outside of Webhelp.

Why is it so important to participate in STEPtember?

Dominique Chatelin: WebHEALTH Kilometer challenge is a great initiative, and by combining it with STEPtember, we can raise money to finance medical research and support for kids suffering from Cerebral Palsy. This gives us the opportunity to Think Human as we walk for kids that will probably never walk. The program was born in Australia, and is now also available in France, Netherlands, Turkey and many other countries: https://www.steptember.org.au/

Are you participating in the challenge yourself and how?

Dominique Chatelin: Of course! I am running and you can support me on my page: https://www.steptember.fr/fundraisers/dominiquechatelin.

In the past, I have participated in a semi-marathon pushing a wheelchair to contribute to the same cause.

Sandrine Asseraf: I am a much slower runner than Dominique so I try to do some biking as well to put in more kilometers!

Any words of wisdom to close with?

Dominique Chatelin & Sandrine Asseraf: Having good health is an undervalued gift that we often take for granted. Until we face people that do not have the chance of this invaluable gift, running for them takes little efforts. Nonetheless, it is such a big help for these kids and adults who will never walk! Enjoy your WebHEALTH Kilometer Challenge and have fun contributing to STEPtember.

We’ve managed an incredible achievement in these first 2 weeks already, but now is not the time to stop! ​We are on our way around Mars as we continue to reach for the stars!

​You can keep track of our progress in this blogspace and across our social media pages through the hashtag #WebHEALTHKilometerChallenge ​


78% of directors believe customers are paying more attention to responsible business practices since pandemic

New research from Gobeyond Partners, the consulting firm focused on customer journey transformation, and Webhelp, Europe’s leading provider of outsourced customer engagement services, has today revealed that responsibility, transparency and trust are now perceived to be more important than they were prior to the pandemic. These values are deemed to be so important that over seven in 10 directors of UK companies stated that their customers are now paying more attention to how responsible their business practices are compared to before the COVID-19 crisis.

Responsible business is just one of a number of data points in some joint research and accompanying report by Gobeyond Partners and Webhelp which underlines the importance of a human experience, as we move to a more digital age. It also highlights that organisations will need to work hard to manage this emerging trend, which will be crucial to the future of customer service as we enter this new normal.

Gobeyond Partners and Webhelp surveyed 500 respondents of director level and above across a range of industries about the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. By combining Webhelp’s expertise in customer engagement with Gobeyond Partners’ customer journey design and transformation, the two organisations were able to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 across a number of key areas and offer recommendations to businesses as they start to plan towards a post pandemic world.

Mark Palmer, CEO of Gobeyond Partners comments on the findings: “When considering the seismic changes that COVID-19 has already driven for businesses on a global level, it is heartening to note that many brands have responded remarkably; adapting to rapidly shifting consumer demands and rethinking propositions at unprecedented pace. However, some have also suffered significant damage too. Certainly, at the start of lockdown, social media feeds were awash with examples of brands accused of behaving irresponsibly and this hasn’t gone unnoticed by their customers. As organisations rush to respond to changing consumer behaviour and working practices, by making much-needed technology and operating model changes, our research highlights the importance of doing this in a responsible, and human way.”

Other key findings from the joint research include:

  • 70% of businesses have seen a direct impact to their bottom line as a result of COVID-19, with more than half being negatively affected.
  • These financial impacts are expected to last, with more than 80% of respondents believing they will be financially impacted for six months or more and 50% expecting their finances to be affected for more than a year.

Craig Gibson, Chief Commercial Officer at Webhelp Group continues: “Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a major shift when it comes to the health and wellbeing, and of course, the safety of team members. However perhaps more interestingly customers have been paying even more attention to how companies deliver on this. We have already seen, and indeed will continue to see, a new more "responsible" behavioural shift, with more empathy for those at the front line. This in turn will place more pressure on businesses to deliver on responsible human work practices and ensure this is communicated as part of their customer journey. Never before has there been a greater need to demonstrate transparency and create genuine and deep emotional connections with customers and colleagues.”

To discover more about customer service models post COVID-19 read our new Whitepaper, a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, on Reimagining service for the new world which is underpinned by our unique industry perspective alongside new research to discover the operating models of the future.


Reimagining Service: retail spotlight

The existing retail transformation agenda has been radically altered. And, while doors are now reopening following what could be the toughest ever period of trading, it is clear that the sector has been hugely impacted by the current crisis.

Many bricks and mortar stores (and even entire portfolios) are still teetering on the brink, so reduced footfall coupled with social distancing measures may render them un-viable. Government intervention may help in the medium term but, as cash reserves dwindle, insolvencies and consolidation will rise.

For multichannel retailers, digital growth has helped to subsidise bricks and mortar revenue. However those behind the curve on the digital agenda will suffer the most, with w-commerce and mixed model adoption (like click and collect) becoming a huge priority. Emerging winners will need established robust digital channels, a modern and scalable attitude to customer service, and have less exposure to costly store portfolios.

What's next?

Brick and mortar focused organisations will have to work much harder for success, as profit margins decrease. Options include undergoing restructuring, investing in omni-channel approaches, or exploring experiential outlets. But, ultimately, retailers must understand how to recreate brand and human experiences digitally.

Obsolete legacy retail teams must merge with digital teams for the benefit of the consumer and, importantly, new digital should not be layered onto an outdated operating model or “broken” customer journeys. Ideally, companies should be rethinking their new world customer experience from the ground up.

Delivering a seamless, consistent service through a blended home/office model will be a difficult balance to strike, especially as moving forward employees and customers will become less forgiving. So, being human and transparent has never been more important – but a laser-focus must remain on performance management and repeatable customer experience, irrespective of location and model.

This may be a tall order for those retailers with limited transformation funds, already reeling from the current shock. However, the first lesson in retail is to begin with a deep understanding of your customers: harnessing existing data and insight and ensuring that expertise and exemplary practices are in place when building new journeys, will be the best starting point for retailers to succeed on their digital journey.

To discover more about customer service models post COVID-19 read our new Whitepaper, a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, on Reimagining service for the new world which is underpinned by our unique industry perspective alongside new research to discover the operating models of the future.

 


Reimagining Service: Travel spotlight

In 2019 the outlook for travel was fairly optimistic in comparison to some other major sectors. It was at a place of maturity in customer experience, using the ability to emotionally and personally connect, whilst leveraging consumer behaviours to create buy in and deliver enhanced customer journeys.

Some disruption was evident, including financial fragility caused by the emergence of new players and go-between providers, like AIrBnB, and also a growing interest in personalised, sustainable eco-tourism. Both factors were impacting on the traditional value, luxury and price based market. Plus, technology was giving regional providers global reach, and bricks and mortar travel retailers were being challenged by digital startups.

The arrival of COVID-19 increased existing pressures, while lockdown and flight bans created income stasis and refund deficits. Cost sustainability is now a huge factor, especially for standalone venues and cases where low operating margins coincide with high cost distribution or intermediation, with go-betweens and resellers draining income flows.

What's next?

Thankfully, the industry is trading again, but the extended airline recovery period is likely to create immediate price hikes and a lack of availability in the leisure market. For business travellers and the corporate market, this recovery will be much longer.

We can expect short term growth in domestic markets, as people have less money and opportunity for international journeys. With global destinations limited, travel will become a simpler more meaningful and relationship-based activity. Lasting consumer trends will result, including a renewed interest in sustainable tourism and purposeful, enriching travel.

Two segments are emerging: The smaller, local, mid-market meaningful avenues for travel, versus luxury propositions. As companies jostle for space in this new world, mature customer service will be vital. But, there is a substantial learning curve required to develop as a seasoned customer advisor, with the depth of understanding needed covering the sector, brand and processes.

In tandem with the rise of homeworking, leisure travel will become blended with business needs, creating the new concept of ‘Bleisure’. Put simply, the human experience of travel and the need for personal contact and connection will be at the forefront of all these changes, and will be increasingly valued and promoted.

To discover more about customer service models post COVID-19 read our new Whitepaper, a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, on Reimagining service for the new world which is underpinned by our unique industry perspective alongside new research to discover the operating models of the future.

 


Trends 2020 – Connected vehicles: data sharing will benefit all players

Car manufacturers are in a paradoxical situation: they are bringing back huge amounts of data from vehicles without fully exploiting or sharing it. Yet, the PTOLEMUS Consulting Group's Vehicle Data Market Global Study report reveals there are high stakes in opening up this ecosystem as manufacturers, motorists and third parties would have a lot to gain. The customer experience could be completely transformed - in compliance with current regulations. Manufacturers must act now, otherwise the exploitation of this data will be done without them.

To gather further insights into transforming the customers experience in mobility services, we interview Frédéric Bruneteau's, President of PTOLEMUS Consulting Group, who has over 20 years' experience in mobility services, becoming one of the worlds’ foremost experts in the field of connected vehicles. Our Director of the Telecom & High-Tech BU at Webhelp, Jalil Lahlou, also shares his insights into these transformations.

Why did you launch this study on vehicle data?

Frédéric Bruneteau (FB): The market was close to maturity on the strategic issue of vehicle data, and on the opportunities for value creation offered by their sharing. This hypothesis was confirmed during the 50 interviews that many international automotive professionals gave us, in 18 countries.

I should point out that the study does not only concern car manufacturers, since we studied 8 vertical mobility markets, including: fleet management, car rental and car sharing, payment from the vehicle, car maintenance (remote or local), car insurance, etc.

In the end, these 8 months of work allowed us to better estimate the fantastic data production of the vehicle, current and future, and its fundamental economic stakes. The 600-page report covers the period 2018-2030 and proposes case studies from 7 manufacturers who already share their data.

How is vehicle data produced and what is the role of Vehicle Data Hubs?

FB: Firstly, I would like to point out cars are already producing phenomenal amounts of data, and with good reason. There are a good hundred sensors in a vehicle, and there are more lines of code in the computer programs that manage it than in those of an Airbus.

To take advantage of this data, new platforms are appearing today, these are the Vehicle Data Hubs (VDH).

These are sometimes traditional players who have gradually taken an interest in vehicle data and its use, such as insurance (LexisNexis, Verisk) or maintenance (CCC) providers. These players have been exchanging data with manufacturers for several years now within the scope of their original business which makes them specialists.

In addition, we have recently seen the emergence of more generalist players, such as Wejo, Otonomo and Caruso. Their approach is first and foremost to serve carmakers and open up their data to the rest of the world, in all verticals.

What are the current and future business models for exploiting this data?

FB: The data generated by a rolling vehicle is of all types: traffic information, incident and accident detection, maintenance data, conditions, and modes of use, etc.

Some data takes on a special meaning, and therefore value when crossed intelligently. For example, some VDHs are already doing this and can thus determine which lane on a 3 or 4-lane road runs best. This information can be monetized in different ways.

Another example: for an insurer, interesting data can be retrieved from the vehicle, such as distances travelled, as well as risk levels; depending on whether one is driving during the day rather than at night, on the highway rather than on the road, etc., this makes it possible to build different billing models based on usage.

However, in this insurance niche, suppliers of electronic boxes are already positioned to provide this data; competing solutions also exist, based on the mobile phone. In other words, car manufacturers are already ‘short-circuited' in these business models. This should make them aware of the value of the data they collect...

More generally, the automotive ecosystem is particularly large and diverse, with dealerships, repairers, accessory dealers, leasers, and a multitude of equipment and service providers.

All these players have a strong interest in accessing vehicle data to create all kinds of business models.

Jalil Lahlou (JL): I would simply add that vehicle data can create a lot of value, as long as it can be coupled with user data. The latter are now being exploited in a very relevant way, based on data analytics.

Based on cross-referencing of vehicle-driver data, loyalty and personalisation actions can be imagined. For example, for a manufacturer, this opens-up opportunities for range renewal: the sales pitch to a driver would be much more relevant, since we would be aware of his real uses.

In other words, this opens up opportunities for upselling complementary options, mobility products and services, etc.

For example, a good knowledge of the driver and his or her uses would make it possible to recommend other products - such as the purchase of an electric scooter for a very urban, short-distance, environmentally conscious user.

In a loyalty and renewal framework, the proposal for a replacement vehicle could be based on reliable bases (age of the vehicle, kilometres travelled, repurchase value of the vehicle, etc.).

These practices are highly developed in telecoms. Conversely, today, manufacturers find it very difficult to keep track of a vehicle's life.

More generally, this cross-referencing of vehicle-driver data would lead to the emergence of new types of prospects and customers, highly relevant to the automotive and mobility ecosystem. Subject, of course, to strict compliance with regulations in force, such as the RGPD, and the rejection of dubious practices of the dark pattern type.

How important is consent to the use of vehicle data?

FB: This is one of the most important questions - how will this consent be granted, and renewed on a regular basis? Some data will not be personal data - anonymised traffic data, for example, but others will fall within this legal perimeter, such as geolocation data.

Significant efforts will therefore have to be made in terms of transparency and education, so that users see their interest in this exploitation of their vehicle data.

This is the sine qua non of consent, whether one-off or more permanent.

Which segments are affected by the use of vehicle data?

FB: Based on the study, 4 segments can be distinguished:

  1. Company cars, which in some markets account for around 50% of new car sales (Belgium, England...),
  2. New cars - the majority of which in Europe are purchased by people over 50 years of age, this population being users of digital products and services
  3. Second-hand cars which often lack a digital link to the manufacturer or other players
  4. As for the digital natives, they see the world without owning a car. However, they are looking for mobility and carpooling solutions from their mobiles. Neither do they have a digital link with the manufacturer or other players.

As you can imagine, each of these segments has its own challenges in terms of the customer experience

JL: As far as new vehicles sold in Europe are concerned, regulations require them to be equipped with the eCall emergency call system. Cross-vehicle driver knowledge creates new opportunities in customer care such as premium support that could concern the optimised use of the vehicle, or a ‘concierge’ type service for vehicle maintenance and to make the driver's life easier, for example.

Preventive maintenance services are also possible on these bases. Generally speaking, these 4 segments could all benefit from a much-improved customer experience and customer relations.

You advocate a model for sharing vehicle data, what are your arguments?

FB: As I pointed out, cars already produce a considerable amount of data flow, and the trend will increase in the future since all new models in Europe are connected. Yet, paradoxically, these gigabytes of data are hardly ever shared with third parties.

Here, a comparison must be made as data from mobile phones has been widely shared and used for a long time. There is a strategic challenge in sharing vehicle data to offer drivers new services and a richer, more satisfying experience.

Apple has just announced its intention to use vehicle data (in partnership with BMW) to launch a digital solution for Car Keys - to open the door of a car purchased, rented, or borrowed with an iPhone.

This enables manufacturers to implement this service for car users so they can easily access the car using their Apple mobile device.

How can manufacturers create a mechanism for third parties to access vehicle data?

FB: The manufacturers we interviewed already have ideas or solutions.

The general idea is to design a platform model that allows targeted access to certain data, with the necessary consents. Each platform would be linked to a manufacturer on the one hand and to third parties on the other.

Of course, there are already some implementations that correspond to this model at some manufacturers, for example BMW or General Motors, but they are still only on a small scale.

It is true that today, manufacturers do not have a data centric culture, or that they have other priorities, but rather extraordinarily complex and heavy in investments: the autonomous car, the electrification of vehicles, the reduction of emissions, and so on.

So, one of the key conclusions of the study is that the most efficient way to go to scale in vehicle data management would be to use specialised players. These have the expertise to create data hubs, and to make them available to thousands of players. This is the purpose of GM's investment in Wejo and Nissan's investment in Otonomo.

What do you think of Apple and Google's App Store model?

FB: It is indeed the model of app stores, as it was developed for smartphones. Millions of developers can thus create applications, often useful and with high added value.

Our analysis and our bet is, this model will eventually prevail, due to a great market demand and the solidity of the model. Moreover, Silicon Valley has proven that by putting customer data at the centre of the organization, we solve all the problems of an industry or service!

Finally, it is very likely that a regulation will be put in place on these subjects, in Europe and the United States in the next 2 or 3 years, and we must anticipate this.

Will manufacturers be able to draw inspiration from the success of Apple and Google?

That would be the start of a new era!


Reimagining Service: Insurance spotlight

COVID-19 has dramatically impacted millions of lives and fundamentally changed the direction of the global economy, but what are the emerging implications for the insurance industry, which is currently inundated with enquires and claims across all area of cover?


Half a million UK businesses have shut down, 20% of the workforce furloughed and revenue expectations and profitability has been severely reduced. Whilst insurance was less visibly impacted than sectors like travel and tourism, 2020 losses are still estimated at a considerable $200bn globally. Survival has now become a medium-term question and with the expectation of legal challenges, consolidation and increased loss ratios, radical changes are on the horizon.

Flexibility and speed of response has created frontrunners, and interestingly, type of risk alone is not dictating the level of impact. This now hinges on multiple factors, including leadership, culture, digital maturity, and the way organisations have designed their operating model.

What's next?

There are some emerging characteristics for success, the most obvious perhaps being the critical business continuity provided by investing in supported homeworking, which has in many cases helped to increase productivity and decrease advisor attrition. A heightened focus on swift regulatory compliance and vigour in commitment to operational resilience has also been a crucial factor.

It’s clear that shifting business to digital platforms has created much needed traction too, but this reactionary approach must now become mature, otherwise it will continue to deliver fragmented and frustrating customer journeys. And, companies that invest in mitigating the human impact of the pandemic will reap the benefits in public perception and employee commitment and satisfaction.

Often borne out of necessity (like car or business insurance) or for peace of mind, like home and personal cover, insurance can coincide with major life events that carry a deep emotional impact, so concentrating on relationship building and platforms that inspire trust will help brands to build better experiences and drive scale.

Humanising, streamlining and redesigning operating models should remain high on the insurance transformation agenda, as a critical fulcrum for engaging and creating the customer loyalty. Insurance must now build on the momentum of change generated to thrive and ensure genuine longevity, in this new and challenging world.

To discover more about customer service models post COVID-19 read our new Whitepaper, a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, on Reimagining service for the new world which is underpinned by our unique industry perspective alongside new research to discover the operating models of the future.