Whitepaper launch: Reimagining service for the new world

As the urgency for change and transformation intensifies in the post COVID landscape, Craig Gibson CCO for Webhelp UK, shares his thoughts on the launch of a new Whitepaper, a collaboration with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group. 

At Webhelp, we have a commitment to use customer experience management to create positive and emotionally significant consumer/client relationships. Many of our previous blogs have discussed the importance of brand humanity and the how the multitude of emotions consumers experience can influence the customer journey and change attitudes towards companies and brands.

And whilst this remains a clear focus, we can’t ignore the impact that COVID-19 has had on both service delivery and development of the Customer Experience industry.

It is rapidly evolving, and as interactions have by necessity changed, customers’ expectations have shifted and priorities have become significantly different to those that were drafted onto strategic plans at the close of 2019.

We have shared some of the ways we met the immediate challenge of COVID-19, including looking at our strong partnerships with brands like Yodel, but the business world is still adapting to this new way of working, and the way customers have traditionally acted and regarded customer service is changing.

As an industry, brands must understand that the rules have changed, for good.

And I am not alone in believing that customer experience will be pivotal in this future landscape, as Feefo’s CEO, Matt West, agrees saying:

 “I think the ‘new normal’ will be more CX focused than ever. It will be all about fine-tuning right the way through the journey. Before all of this happened, evaluating the customer experience may not have been at the top of many businesses’ to-do lists, whereas this situation has brought the real value of a brand right to the forefront of the consumer’s minds. A refined CX is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s an essential.”[1]

It is time to tear up outdated plans and explore new and evolving needs which will drive future service development and innovation.

To this end, I have joined forces with Mark Palmer, Chief Executive Officer at Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group, as we firmly believe that together we are able to provide a unique perspective.

There is no doubt that the need for transformation will only continue to intensify post COVID, and Mark hits the nail on the head, when he concludes that:

“COVID-19 is having a profound impact globally. Not only is it affecting our health, but it is fundamentally challenging and altering our political, social, and economic norms.”

And as our normal shifts, some key questions must be answered:

  • How different will service look and feel in the future?
  • How will businesses and their operations need to adapt?
  • And how can employers engage and support their colleagues to deliver on new customer promises?

Our new Whitepaper, combining Webhelp’s expertise in global customer management with Gobeyond Partners’ Customer journey design and transformation experience is called Reimagining service for the new world. It provides a clear framework, or roadmap, for tomorrow’s successful customer-focused operating models and is backed by the latest exclusive research from over 500 business leaders.

There is something wonderful about looking at the right map to explore the road ahead, as:

“Maps are like campfires – everyone gathers around them, because they allow people to understand complex issues at a glance, and find agreement.”[2]

We hope that launch of this Whitepaper will provide the stimulus for many further blogs and events, and I would like to personally invite you to keep the campfire of innovation burning and join the Reimagining service for the new world mailing list, by connecting on LinkedIn and by becoming part of our future conversation. We’d love to hear what you think the future holds.

[1] www.dma.org.uk

[2] www.sonomaecologycenter.org


The importance of remaining human, in the switch to digital learning

The business challenge facing the Webhelp UK Operational Learning and Development (Ops L&D) team, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was truly exceptional. Here, Declan Hogan Director of Operational L&D, UK region, reveals how they transformed their strategy while thinking human and what plans they are making for the future.

In March 2020, upon observing the initial impact of COVID, our team faced an unprecedented demand; to deliver an overarching vision of safe, accessible, viable training - available at speed and at scale.

As a people-first business, colleague well-being was a driving principle, and as pre-COVID, virtual training made up no more than 5% of delivery, we knew that we had to rapidly increase our online service to both protect and inform our employees.

This was to be no small task, as the team operates across 25 sites covering 3 major geographic regions; the UK, South Africa and India. We deliver L&D to 11,000 people across 32 different client campaigns, encompassing a diverse range of cultures, sectors, scales and approaches. We focus on our 9000 frontline advisors, via a fraternity of circa 100 trainers, facilitators, L&D consultants and development specialists.

The Webhelp vision is to ‘make business more human’, so we knew we had to swiftly implement a comprehensive change of direction in strategy and delivery, in a relevant, but above all ‘human’ and accessible way.

We needed a reframed game-plan to meet the considerable demand of the many more employees working from home. With intelligent work force management, access to a daily War Room (to engage, inform and learn from senior leaders) and a freshly developed playbook, using an agile 5DI mythology, we understood the differing circumstances of our colleagues and designed tailored virtual sessions and digital learning spaces to meet their needs.

In just 14 days we achieved:

  • 100% online learning delivery for over 8,000 people working from home
  • Over 50 Webhelp trainers upskilled into a virtual environment
  • 85 core digital learning modules and 25 Digital Compliance Courses ready to deploy

And, our people responded with employee satisfaction scores of around 90%. During the COVID crisis we welcomed 5 new partners in retail, tele-co and key services and our learning team have been consistently central to speed and success.

Our programs and modules broke down existing physical training into short impactful interventions, supported with self-directed guides, an information portal, webinars and video and focused on key themes of communication and well-being and resilience

We used creative design solutions like gamification and split screen technology to engage, test, recognise and reward. Plus, we developed a virtual ‘hot seat’ environment and a soft go live to ease ‘call shock’ for new advisors. And, it was also crucial to invest time to skill the front-line trainers to deliver virtually. We made this real-world with a psychological contract between facilitator and learner that this is not training ‘as usual’: signal will drop, kids will interrupt, pets will make noise etc.

Alongside all of this, a constant dialogue was maintained with each client, keeping them at the heart of all activity, strong relationships based on trust and transparency were built, each playing a part in the decision-making process. You can read more about our partnership strategy in this interview with Yodel. who share their high level of satisfaction with our approach during COVID-19.

So, by necessity, but with insight, the ‘classroom only’ model rapidly evolved and 100% online delivery became standardised and transferable across all of our regions. Although our entire L&D catalogue can now be delivered online, a decision tree process is in place to establish if training should be virtual, blended or face to face.

Looking to the future

Reacting to the COVID crisis gave the world an unmistakable virtual capability call to action, however, our team were ahead of the game with an established L&D strategy for 2020 which had already initiated the clear and strategic goal of increasing the self-learning/digital proposition to enable learning anywhere.

Whilst the crisis has given us the stimulus to test, learn and roll out a virtual model, the focus has now began to shift to blended learning - drawing the best from both virtual and face to face approaches.

As part of our half yearly reflections, each training manager is presenting (via case studies) successes and suggestions on how to improve our new methodologies.

Online learning is growing in both sophistication and popularity, but it should never lose the human touch - as FutureLearn CEO Simon Nelson, who previously led the BBC’s transition from analogue to digital, remarks:

“The integration of digital technology into education has had a profound impact, opening up distribution globally and allowing flexible, on-demand, around-the-clock services for learners. It also connects us to vast stores of information.

However, skills like emotional intelligence, creativity, resilience, conflict resolution, or leadership will never go out of fashion. As technology continues to redefine the world of work, the traits that make us human will remain as important as ever”

Source: Britishcouncil.org

Webhelp is an intrinsically human company – a global melting pot of passionate individuals who actively want to change the game, to really make a difference in the lives of the people and business they work with.  I am incredibly proud of the agility and creativity of my team and how they remained focused and supportive during difficult times.

Our vision and culture will act as a compass to guide the next generation of people-centric learning, and we will keep challenging the status-quo to be the forefront of new thinking, now and in 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,

 

Why did you launch this study on vehicle data?

Frédéric Bruneteau:  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?

Frédéric Bruneteau:  FirstlyI 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?

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

Jalil Lahlou: 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.

On the basis of this 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 upsell: sale of 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?

Frédéric Bruneteau:  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?

Frédéric Bruneteau:  Based on the study, 4 segments can be distinguished:

-company cars, which in some markets account for around 50% of new car sales (Belgium, England...),

-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,

-second-hand cars which often lack a digital link to the manufacturer or other players,

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.

Here too, cross-vehicle driver knowledge creates new opportunities in customer care such as premium support: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?

Frédéric Bruneteau:  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?

Frédéric Bruneteau:  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.

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?

Frédéric Bruneteau:  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 ithat 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!

 

 

 


An inclusive approach to recruitment: A South African Perspective.

South Africa provides a vibrant, enthusiastic and highly skilled base for many of Webhelp’s clients who chose offshoring to deliver their customer service. Here Kevin D’Allende, recruitment manager for the region, shares our commitment to provide opportunity for the youth of South Africa, and their pathway to employment, in their customer experience provider careers.

South Africa, behind India, is the second most popular global destination for offshoring, and as a location it is very attractive prospect for clients, due to our English language skills, time-zone compatibility with Europe, an advanced telecommunications industry, Government support for the industry and most importantly, reliable committed and cost effective workforce.

However, according to the World Bank, South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the World with unemployment teetering on 30%. Given this startling fact, it is understandable that the youth in the country may become disillusioned about the prospect of finding gainful employment and becoming economically active in society.

But encouragingly, there is growing recognition across the customer experience management sector, that despite this dire situation opportunities exist to play a more meaningful role to create positive impact. At Webhelp, we have a core commitment to make businesses more human and are a people-first organisation, so creating these opportunities to nurture youth potential is a long-standing and important priority for our organisation.

For me, this starts with identifying and attracting the best human talent by placing people at the centre, Webhelp can harness this untapped skill base and showcase to the rest of the world the innate ability of South African youth to excel in a customer service environment.

As the South African Youth make their way along the pathway to employment, the challenge is to keep these enquiring minds fully engaged and help them bring out their best.

As a result, we must make sure that their experiences in the pre-employment stage reflect how exciting and enthusing their professional journey at Webhelp can be.

Identifying, attracting and retaining the right new talent for Webhelp, and our clients can be a challenge which involves various strategies.

Firstly, we use our existing people (always our best advertisement!) to engage and educate our new recruits. Our brand ambassadors live and display the company values so passionately that others are drawn to the organisation.

We strive to create working communities that reflect the backgrounds and cultural touchpoints of our people, as everyone likes to work in a space that is more like them!

This dovetails with our organisational values too, and we are involved in various community initiatives like the Columba Leadership Programme, which aims to ensure that hundreds of thousands of young people realise their potential and recognize their ability to lead change in their own lives, their schools and communities.

This approach allows Webhelp an opportunity to actively participate in moulding and nurturing the future business leaders of the country. This ambition continues inside our organisation, with opportunities like the Deputy Team Leader Programme and Momentum training for middle managers.

We recognise that everyone has a unique set of financial and social circumstances that may have impacted their access to academic studies prior to their recruitment, so to help our people to realise their potential Webhelp makes Learnerships available that culminate in a formal qualification on completion.

These colleagues often start out as Customer Services Advisors at entry level but through the learnership and middle management training modules, they can become part of the team leader core whilst others venture into support roles like trainers and quality analysts.

Alongside this, close partnerships and strategic alliances with various external training providers are important to ensure that Webhelp is able to access talent that really have a yearning for learning, and will embrace our working culture. These prime candidates form a sourcing pool for Webhelp and their applications are fast tracked into the business; often as Technical Help Desk Advisors.

Finally, and something that is very close to our hearts at Webhelp, we support Impact Sourcing, via organisations like Harambee, to provide career development opportunities to people who otherwise have limited prospects for formal employment.

We work hard to remove the barriers to employment and bolster an inclusive approach to recruitment.

Acknowledging that the recruitment process can be a very daunting space for a first-time work seeker, this process allows for changes to be made to ensure the candidate feels comfortable to offer their best.

This atmosphere of transparency, involvement (inclusion) and mutual respect allows for a more relaxed and rewarding engagement. Positive feedback, whether the candidate is successful or not, becomes important, as we want to support everyone during their interaction with Webhelp.

At Webhelp we believe that recruitment should be ethical, transparent, fair and accessible and that the concept that ‘Our people make Webhelp’ is something that we live by every-day. Throughout our operation, its remains a priority for us to improve the experience of all our employees - at all stages of their career journey with us.

Look out for further blogs, sharing more of our people strategy, in the coming weeks.

 

 


WFH Best Practices – How to effectively manage a remote team

Currently most of us can relate to working remotely from different locations owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. A recent survey revealed that 76% of the Global Workforce prefer to continue working from home post Covid-19 (Source: globalworkplaceanalytics.com). Apart from escaping a noisy office, there are significant benefits gained from WFH such as an increase in productivity on one hand, and a decrease in absenteeism on the other.

And because the WFH model is the new normal, leaders need to remotely support their teams to ensure business continuity during this unprecedented situation. So let’s have a look at some of the best practices that have been proven to enable a remote team successfully achieve its objective under the leadership of a team manager.

Up-to-date equipment
Your team’s working culture flourishes when everything is under one roof. Ensure that the team members have the amenities needed to get their work done. This includes but not limited to working laptop machines and remote team management software in order to plan projects as well as people, mobile devices or a high-speed internet. As a team manager it is your responsibility to make sure that the team you are working with is promptly supplied with this equipment and timely replacements are done on the faulty ones.

Regular communication
This goes without saying. It is normal for your team to feel lonely and isolated because they are not in an office environment. It's therefore important to have a regular one on one every so often allowing room for small talk when possible. A good rapport is key in creating a bond between team members and their manager. From time to time find out how they are doing and also how their families are doing to show that you not only care about their work delivery but also their lives outside work.

Video conferencing
Thanks to technology advancement, we are now able to interact and connect better through electronic mediums such as Teams, Zoom, Skype, Google Meet etc. It is thus important to find the right collaboration tool that can be used with the whole staff. By helping to shorten the gap between the employer and employee, video conferencing is a powerful tool that fosters the connection and team spirit by enabling real-time, face to face communication. Researchers show that half of human communication is nonverbal. As team manager, your role is to ensure effective communication which will establish a connection with your members. Video conferencing helps to notice your team’s reaction to different situations in order to also understand the unspoken.

Set expectations
Conveying expectations early clearly helps in keeping your team members focused in working towards the same goal. Help them in figuring out what they need to prioritize by creating realistic expectations for their work. This sets up both you and the team for success as it helps in precisely stating both the tasks and the reasons behind them as a measure of achievement. Your expectation for your virtual team can be their, working hours, scope of work and the deadlines and deliverables for each task or project.

Watch out for part two...


How the Yodel and Webhelp partnership faced the challenge of COVID-19

Partnership is a huge part of the way we deliver services at Webhelp, and one of our four cultural pillars is to put the client at the heart. Here we explore the strong collaborative approach that was undertaken during the COVID crisis with Yodel, a key logistics client for Webhelp. Joining the discussion were Michaela Simpson, Head of Customer Experience at Yodel, Kellyann McCafferty, Account Director at Webhelp and Cobus Crous, Head of Operations for Webhelp in India and SA.

Yodel is one of the UK’s largest delivery companies for B2C orders, serving many of the country’s leading retailers. Webhelp and Yodel have been working together since 2015, and have built up a strong alliance providing outstanding customer service management, which is delivered from Webhelp’s offshore locations in South Africa and India.

What was the starting position of the logistics industry, and Yodel’s outlook before COVID?

Michaela Simpson (Yodel):

We were just coming out of a very successful peak period, the six weeks over Christmas, is traditionally one of the highest delivery periods for the consumer market. Logistics is a highly competitive sector and as an innovative carrier, our efforts were focused on continuing to build a forward-thinking technology roadmap. We were in the enviable position of having well-established, technical and highly skilled operational and management teams in place, and an exceptionally in depth understanding of the day to day working of the business.

Do you have any feedback on what Webhelp were doing well before COVID hit?

Michaela Simpson (Yodel):

Everything.

Together we had had a run of at least three, if not four really strong quarters. And, this success can be measured by the fact that Yodel have been awarding Webhelp service credits for great delivery at the end of each quarter.

Like any partnership, you can drill down into detail to find areas to challenge, which is simply good practice. But, in my opinion, we had the strongest people we’ve ever had  and overall we were very pleased.

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

Michaela Simpson (Yodel)

One stand out during the COVID crisis would be, just as we approached Easter, Yodel were awarded a UK government contract to collect COVID tests for the NHS, seven days a week. Webhelp delivered an eight person team specifically trained to support this essential service. We went from concept to go live in less than a week! They did an absolutely fantastic job delivering the first campaign and we now have two more on the horizon.

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

But there were challenges, and they were different depending on the country in question. In India, a curfew was announced on the 14th of March, and then the lockdown was announced on Mothers Day on Sunday the 22nd of March, one of Yodel’s busiest trading days of the year! We then had four hours to deliver desktops & laptops to our employees who were without access to technology. Working swiftly, our teams successfully managed to complete all actions on time and in line with the Indian Government regulations.

In South Africa, shortly before the formal lockdown announcement on the 23rd of March, we conducted an initial employee survey to understand the potential challenge of the home situation for our advisors in terms of WIFI, hardware, infrastructure and so on.

A staggered approach was then used to move our people to either supported homeworking, or for the small group where this was not suitable due to not having an appropriate home environment, supported working from a hotel venue.

The hotel solution was an industry first, which showed not only the strength in our partnership to act quickly and decisively around commercials and logistics, but also highlighted the commitment and dedication our people have towards Webhelp and Yodel.

Our advisors left their families and loved ones for 21 days, without hesitation, to support customers and clients from a hotel room during a very uncertain period. This is testament to our values and how our wonderful employees live the Yodel brand.

Michaela Simpson (Yodel):

Yes, the Indian lockdown happened incredibly quickly. And then South Africa was hot on its heels. One of the strengths we shared collaboratively was the ability to make some very decisive and quick decisions on how we were going to operate. This allowed Webhelp to deploy a robust plan at speed, which has been really successful, particularly in India, and remains so now.

Understandably, there were technical challenges to overcome, early in the process but, I think if you were a Yodel customer you probably wouldn't have noticed a significant difference.

We made the pragmatic, but firm decision to move away from phone services to Web chat until early August, and to manage that message to our consumers. Clear joint action gave us the freedom to plan our campaigns together, knowing the road ahead and the expected timeline.

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

This helped make sure that in a short space of time all our people, in both locations, were up and running from home, or hotel based – and while we appreciate the sacrifices our advisors made, the feedback was that they were delighted to carry on representing the Yodel brand during a difficult period, and maintained high enthusiasm in delivering great service.

Cobus Crous (Webhelp):

Absolutely. Taken together across the Webhelp estate, in both India and South Africa, Yodel was one of the accounts that were 100% operational within a 72-hour window.

And I think that's quite an achievement on its own.

Personally, I'm exceptionally proud of how my team reacted, to what was a very scary and unsettling scenario. Their attitude was: “OK, we're going for it, we're going to solve it!” From the moment they got their PC’s, they unpacked, connected and were ready to work the next morning! And I think that was remarkable, just how well they moved with the change. Our people are such a big part of this story.

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

In fact, this shows great resilience, as they were quickly functioning above normal business levels, when COVID actually brought much larger parcel volumes than usual.

Michaela Simpson (Yodel):  

Yes, interestingly, at Yodel we were initially concerned about the negative impact COVID could have on online retail, which forms a substantial part of our business.

However, the reality was completely different. China came out of lockdown just as Europe went into it, and the expected disruption to the global manufacturing industry didn’t impact us. Suddenly home shopping habits changed completely, so we have been effectively running at peak operation, which we usually spend a significant part of the year planning and laying out logistics for.

And we managed to switch this on in a just a few hours. And since then we have maintained very, very high numbers, well above our plan!

Webhelp is a people first organisation with a commitment to make business more human, did this approach effect delivery?  

Michaela Simpson (Yodel)

In the logistics industry, it's easy for us to think in operational terms, but despite the fact that we had to make some very critical business decisions, together we have considered and prioritised the people side of our partnership. This went above the usual checks and balance for any business and has come through very strongly from the Webhelp operational teams at a grass roots level.

Thoughts for the future?   

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

With Yodel, we are building a highly proactive approach to contact and delivery, which benefits from the joint operational traits of flexibility, clarity of decision making and the right balance between people and technology.

Our partnership will continue to change the way that brands look at outsourced customer service for the logistics sector, both during this crisis and as we move towards a more stable future.


Outsourcing content moderation: adding value to first and third parties with a human first approach

What are the main issues with content moderation today?

A recent report published by NYU, shows that there is over 3 billion pieces of content on Facebook (in the first quarter of 2020) that is the responsibility for content moderators to check; remove or provide a warning ‘cover’ of disturbing content before viewing.

Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg recently reported in a 2018 Whitepaper , Facebook’s review teams “make the wrong call in 1 out of 10 cases”, which can be a result of relying on AI to identify harmful content, or the pressure and lack of training with moderators.

With this type of role, comes a great deal of pressure and responsibility to ensure the safety of the community, 24/7 (2.6 billion active users daily).

One of the main issues content moderators face today, is the hundreds of items they are required to moderate within a six to eight-hour shift.    Therefore, expertise is essential, as it is up to content moderators to act with governance to uphold high standards. Content is not responsible of the platform,  this is the freedom users have for ‘free speech’, but the onus is on the moderators to control obscenity showcased to them.

Subsequently, the second issue is the pressure of fulfilling these number of items to moderate. Setting high targets and efficiency rates can prove to be unattainable and have the consequences of diminished performance and mental health and wellbeing.

Recommendations from NYU

The NYU report discusses recommendations major social media platforms can do to improve their content moderation.

While the main theme of the article is constructed on the basis “A call for outsourcing”, we can conversely demonstrate outsourcing is instrumental to content moderation, moreover how we align with these recommendations outlined in the report.

Human first approach when outsourcing content moderation

At Webhelp, we know many mistakes have been done concerning content moderation services, therefore we decided when we entered this ‘community service’, to adopt a completely different approach - 74% of our operators recommend Webhelp as an employer (NPS).

Investing in people

A human first approach to content moderation is Webhelp’s understanding that people’s mental health and wellbeing is not to be disregarded when managing afflictive content.

Wellness is our differentiator, enabled through our Webhealth Wellness Programme:

  • Mental Health Awareness training is provided for managers to recognise symptoms of stress, and the coping mechanisms to support colleagues
  • providing a safe, working environment to ensure colleagues have a sense of security, trust, and reliability.
  • access to certified Psychologists, councillors, and trained coaches to support content moderators with mental, physical, financial, and nutritional health.

Wellbeing Analytics to take proactive action

As part of our approach to content moderators and their mental health, we monitor their performance using Wellbeing Analytics.

Using this tool enables us to identify issues through a combination of observing colleagues, using data analytics and machine learning for proactive action.

Team leaders and coaches will have daily updates on colleagues MTI score which indicates how colleagues are performing and  , identify ; this allows supervisors to take appropriate actions to support them, for example, reworking a shift or allow for longer breaks - 100% of our operators moderating sensitive content have shorter shifts which achieves up to 4 points of attrition reduction.

Improving content moderation

Managing content moderation is not to be taken lightly. It requires expertise and knowledge about this area and understanding there is a balance between the impact it has on individual’s wellbeing and the value it adds to first and third parties.

Outsourcing for content moderation is a way in which social media companies can employ experts within that field to deliver outcomes and improve performance.

As NYU have reported, content moderation should not be outsourced because it lacks on moderator’s health and wellbeing.

As we have demonstrated above, we have a strong focus on this. Not all outsourcing is conducted by ‘customer service centres’ that exploit their team without support, on the contrary.

Taking a human first approach with our Webhealth programme and Wellbeing Analytics tool enables colleagues to develop their understanding of mental health and is essential in proving a safe, healthy environment for moderators.


Press Release: Jean-Baptiste Decaix appointed Chief Client Officer of the Webhelp Group, member of the Executive Committee.

Paris, June 22th 2020. With the appointment of Jean-Baptiste Decaix as Group Chief Client Officer, Webhelp reinforces its international senior management and reaffirms its ambition to become a top 3 worldwide leader.

A graduate of CentraleSupélec and an executive MBA from ESSEC-Mannheim, Jean-Baptiste began his career at Lucent Technologies in Asia, then joined Completel in 2000 to manage the key accounts Pre-sales & Service activities. In 2006, he joined Bain & Co. in Europe and then in Australia, to lead growth strategies, M&A, post-merger integrations, and operational transformations within international groups and for investment funds. In 2015, Jean-Baptiste joined Webhelp as Chief Delivery & Transformation Officer - member of the Executive Committee - to steer the integration and transformation of the multiple international acquisitions as well as the management of Group Operations.

His expertise and business successes has contributed to Webhelp's growth and international transformation; tripling turnover from €520M in early 2015 to €1.5B in 2019.

As Chief Client Officer, Jean-Baptiste will lead the international accounts line of business and strengthen the account management excellence across Webhelp group. He stated: "At a time when Webhelp is entering a new chapter in its history with its new investor Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, it becomes critical to further accelerate our international growth, partnering with our clients and delivering them customer-centric, tailor-made and innovative solutions. These clients represent 2/3 of our future growth and their loyalty is a major pillar of our strategy."

The mission led by Jean-Baptiste Decaix will contribute to achieving Webhelp's ambition to develop long-lasting and valuable partnerships and make the Group a world reference in customer experience.
 

About Webhelp:

Making business more human for the world’s most exciting brands.
It’s through this commitment that Webhelp enriches customer experience, and designs business solutions that create value for the world’s most exciting companies. Webhelp is a partner across a range of services that include customer experience solutions, social media moderation through and payment services. Hundreds of brands across the world trust Webhelp because of their people, the culture they work in, and the ideas and technology they put to work. By choosing Webhelp they access the passion and experience of 55,000 game-changers from more than 140 locations in 35 countries. Webhelp is the European leader in their industry, with a revenue of €1,4B in 2018, and aims for a global leadership position. Webhelp is currently owned by its management and GBL, a leading global investment holding, as of November 2019. 
 


Jean-Baptiste Decaix appointed Chief Client Officer of the Webhelp Group, member of the Executive Committee.

Paris, June 22th 2020. With the appointment of Jean-Baptiste Decaix as Group Chief Client Officer, Webhelp reinforces its international senior management and reaffirms its ambition to become a top 3 worldwide leader.

A graduate of CentraleSupélec and an executive MBA from ESSEC-Mannheim, Jean-Baptiste began his career at Lucent Technologies in Asia, then joined Completel in 2000 to manage the key accounts Pre-sales & Service activities. In 2006, he joined Bain & Co. in Europe and then in Australia, to lead growth strategies, M&A, postmerger integrations, and operational transformations within international groups and for investment funds.                                                                                                                          In 2015, Jean-Baptiste joined Webhelp as Chief Delivery & Transformation Officer - member of the Executive Committee - to steer the integration and transformation of the multiple international acquisitions as well as the management of Group Operations.

His expertise and business successes has contributed to Webhelp's growth and international transformation; tripling turnover from €520M in early 2015 to €1.5B in 2019. As Chief Client Officer, Jean-Baptiste will lead the international accounts line of business and strengthen the account management excellence across Webhelp group.

He stated: "At a time when Webhelp is entering a new chapter in its history with its new financial partner Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, it becomes critical to further accelerate our international growth, partnering with our clients and delivering them customer-centric, tailor-made and innovative solutions. These clients represent 2/3 of our future growth and their loyalty is a major pillar of our strategy." The mission led by Jean-Baptiste Decaix will contribute to achieving Webhelp's ambition to develop longlasting and valuable partnerships and make the Group a world reference in customer experience.

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Fast Fashion, online retail growth and the future of the high-street

As fast fashion brand Boohoo adds more failing high-street brands to its online portfolio, sector expert Kellyann McCafferty, Account Director for the Webhelp UK Region, takes the retail temperature and considers the way forward for beleaguered high street brands.   

It’s no secret that the world of retail has been profoundly affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and the ripples have been felt across the sector with the demise of popular brands like Cath Kidston and Laura Ashley and the high profile store closures of industry stalwarts like Debenhams.

There were shockwaves again this week, with the announcement that digital fast fashion company Boohoo, was to add to its stable of brands with the acquisition of the online divisions of failing high street stores Oasis and Warehouse.

This news illustrates how the gap is quickly widening between traditional brick and mortar retail and the fortunes of purely (or primarily) online services, like Boohoo, Very.com and Freemans Grattan Holdings.

After initial concerns over supply chains, and a dip in March due to the lock down effect, unlike high-street stores, most online brands are now firmly back to business as usual, with Boohoo and The Very Group reporting growth in retail sales overall.

However, this hasn’t come easily, and the hidden building blocks to online success stories (like these) are early adoption of new technology and better business process services; including the creation of smooth customer interactions across all channels and excellent customer service management operations and systems.

At Webhelp, we guide our clients through this transformational journey, and as Webhelp UK CEO David Turner confirms, we believe that:

Investment in technology infrastructure is absolutely critical. At Webhelp we have already made significant investments in our digital and automation capabilities to help clients improve customer experience and reduce costs using digital self-service, whilst leveraging technologies such as chatbots to reduce volumes of non-complex and low value interactions.”

And retail will have to adapt quickly, as it remains the single largest private sector employer in the UK, with 2.9 million people working the sector, and annual sales totalling a staggering £394bn. In 2019, online retail accounted for less than 20% of these sales, but the next financial year is likely to report a vastly different statistic.

Grocery retail has been cited as one of the big success stories during COVID, with high profile retailer’s like Asda and Sainsbury’s stepping up with feed the nation campaigns, and drastically increasing their online capabilities to support both everyday shoppers and vulnerable customers during the outbreak.

The big players in the consumer electrical markets, like Dixons Carphone, have also witnessed an upswing in online purchases, with everything from Smart TV’s, laptop’s, printers, desks to ovens, fridge freezers and washing machines, becoming hot commodities as people nested into their homes for both work and leisure.

However, the key questions will be, as the world comes out of lockdown, will our shopping behaviours have changed for good? And, what will this mean for both the economy and the future of the high-street? With revenues falling hard in May, the BRC – who are the go-to trade association for all UK retailers - warned that shops face a “fight for survival” in the coming months with tough new physical distancing and health and safety requirements.

It was widely reported in April of this year, that sales had gone from £650m a month to zero for fast fashion brand Primark; however, it seems that we haven’t lost our appetite for a bargain, as huge queues were reported as the stores finally opened their doors again in England this week.

It is my belief that, while COVID-19 may have changed our online behaviour and will increase the amount we buy on line, the experience of shopping in a store environment is something that most people still enjoy. We may yet see a few more casualties, but the high-street will slowly recover.

The concept of experiential retail will continue to grow, with physical shopping becoming more of a leisure activity, like the restaurant industry, a focus for Instagram snaps and social clout.

However, we can’t ignore the fact that this crisis has given a very clear warning to big brands who have not yet embraced an omni-channel approach, as relying on a single channel for sales or customer service is now revealed as a very risky proposition.

At Webhelp we believe that customer experience providers should offer a responsive, flexible and robust approach, safeguarding their client’s business as their own, especially under crisis. Whilst always looking for new ways to use the best technology and people to future proof their operations.

We are working with our clients to share some of our innovative partnership approaches in future blogs, so watch this space for future updates. In the meantime, read our expert insight on the future of travel from international sector expert and Webhelp Global Director Nora Boros, or click here to get an in-depth view of our services.