BNPL can be adapted to B2B... but with some caveats!

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) has of course become a convenient option for B2C, but its implementation in a B2B context requires many adjustments, as explained by Arnaud Soubien, CEO and co-founder of RollingFunds. Here he is interviewed by Aline Abeya, Sales Manager France and Benelux at Webhelp Payment Services.

We often hear people say: “BNPL is easy: there are many turnkey solutions that allow customers to pay in 3 or 4 instalments”. This is entirely true when the end consumers are private individuals… but transposing the B2C model to B2B, without asking the right questions, is doomed to fail. Why?

For many years now, with many B2C brands, there has been the option to pay in 3 or 4 instalments, without charge, as a private individual. It is also the case that  BNPL  is now an off-the-shelf product that can very easily be integrated into a marketplace type environment.

But it must be emphasised that current solutions are aimed at individuals and for average baskets of small amounts that can be charged to a bank card. From a B2B perspective, however, there are specific factors that must be taken into account, including in particular:

1 – Establishing a relationship remotely via KYC

When it comes to entering into a financial relationship, the law requires that due diligence be carried out to acquire a good “knowledge of the customer”. This is referred to as a KYC, or “Know Your Customer”, process. However, the procedures required to verify the identity of a customer differ greatly depending on the type of customer involved.

Individuals can of course prove their identity with an official identity document, but companies need to be able to prove their existence (with a certificate of incorporation, articles of association, etc.), and to identify their legal representatives (natural persons with the power to bind the company) and the beneficial owners (the main partners). The procedures to be carried out in the context of a B2B business relationship are therefore much more complexand they differ from one country to another. They are based on automated or human controls, or a mixture of the two, as offered by Webhelp KYC Services.

2 – The basket total and the payment methods

In the context of a B2B business relationship, average baskets are usually much larger, requiring limits much higher than those granted to individuals – typically from fifty or so to a few hundred euros.

In addition to risk management issues, the basket total, and therefore the due dates, cannot be charged to a bank card as is the case for individuals, given their payment limits. One must therefore look at the means of payment commonly accepted by companies (direct debits, transfers, cheques, etc.) depending on the target clientele.

3 – The margin on sales

BNPL is generally offered to individuals free of charge: “pay in 3 or 4 instalments, free of charge”. The financial costs are borne by the e-merchant. And the fees are quite high, since they are generally in the 3-4% range at the time of the transaction (i.e. for an average financing period of 30 days, an APR of more than 30% per year). In contrast, the margin on sales for B2B is much lower than for B2C. The cost of BNPL must therefore be adjusted to take this into account.

4 – Risk analysis and management

Unlike BNPL for individuals, where risk analysis can be purely statistical, given the uniform nature of the population and the granular nature of the exposure to risk, the great diversity of companies requires a specific analysis: a CAC 40 company, a medium-sized company, a VSE/SME, or even a sole-trader artisan are not analysed in the same way. Evaluating the credit risk of a company requires specific know-how and a specific model which, in addition to company size, must take into account many parameters such as the company’s activity (B2B or B2C activity), specific sector or location related factors, etc.

But the strategy for deploying a BNPL offer in B2B cannot, and should not, be defined based on these considerations alone. For a BNPL programme to be truly successful and to reflect short- and medium-term sales targets, it must meet two conditions:

  • it must be structured to serve the marketing and business strategy of the marketplace,
  • and it must be flexible enough to adapt in response to future developments.

An international dimension is often present in B2B. What constraints apply?

An e-commerce platform or B2B marketplace will often connect buyers and sellers who are separated by borders. Cross-border transactions require the specific administrative, legal, regulatory, monetary and fiscal nature of the countries concerned to be taken into account, even if these countries are all members of the European Union.

It is therefore important for the BNPL solution to be designed to “integrate” this complexity at a national and international level, in order to protect the marketplace from any risk.

What about specific business factors? Can a B2B solution be standardised?

First of all, I think it is important to remember that, in the B2B world, BNPL has existed for more than a century, under another name, and in another form: the trade receivable, an invoice with a payment deadline. In France alone this amounts to more than 650 billion euros.

However, each sector of activity has its own market practice: for example, payment periods are not the same for the sale of fresh products as for the sale of equipment and fittings. In addition, commercial policies may vary from one company to another, depending in particular on how marketing is conducted , the type of customer and internal procedures.

That’s why, at RollingFunds, we are convinced that a B2B solution cannot overlook the actual nature of the business.

“The specific nature of each sector of activity, and the marketing and commercial strategy in the short and medium term, must be taken into account from the outset of the project.” – Arnaud Soubien

To take a concrete example, that of the fashion sector – where we work in partnership with Webhelp Payment Services – one has to adapt to the specific nature of the sector, in terms of both the countries involved and their purchasing habits and payment methods. Typically, a large order will be placed at the start of each season, followed by small restocking orders as time passes. Other types of business have different customs of their own.

Ultimately, very specific risk analyses and flow analyses need to be adopted, regardless of the business sector.

As an attentive observer of this market, I can tell you that the simple roll-out of a BNPL solution from B2C to B2B, without taking into account the specific factors involved, has always resulted in failure and been a source of frustration.

What B2B financing solutions does RollingFunds offer in partnership with Webhelp Payment Services?

Webhelp Payment Services provides a range of customer relationship management services including billing, collection management and the collection of trade receivables.

As part of their partnership, Webhelp Payment Services and RollingFunds have linked up their information systems to allow Webhelp customers to easily subscribe to a financing offer that is perfectly tailored to their needs.

In addition, RollingFunds provides financing solutions dedicated to the purchase of products and services – which positions us as a key B2B player in the BNPL sector.

For example, a builder can choose to pay the Building Platform, of which Rolling Funds is a partner, for their equipment, on a deferred basis or on credit (the BNPL offer).

Our solutions are tailored to B2B players, whatever the sales channels: marketplace, an e-commerce site, a store network, click & collect, etc. Thanks to our omni-channel approach, customers have access to their payment facilities on all sales channels – just as we do for the Building Platform.

I would stress that our technical solutions are very simple to implement, being based on SaaS and APIs.

The combination of our technology and financing know-how, with Webhelp Payment Services’ 35 years of experience in managing international buying and selling transactions and customer relations, allows us to offer a range of BNPL services with high added value and adapted to the context in which companies operate and their target clientele.

How does BNPL work in a B2B marketplace?

It all depends on how far a project has advanced. Indeed, the strategy for deploying a BNPL offer is not the same for an existing B2B marketplace, with an established clientele, as it is for a developing marketplace.

But, as I see it, the first step is a BNPL offer deployment strategy that is perfectly aligned with a company’s sales and marketing strategy: target customers, payment deadlines, payment methods, etc.

It is our belief that in a B2B context we need to offer a tailor-made solution, one that corresponds to the lifetime of the marketplace, its outlook, its risk strategy, and its financial cost allocation policy. It is essential that the BNPL offer is fully aligned with the marketplace strategy.

It is this ability to adapt that we are able to offer, with our partner Webhelp Payment Services and, thanks to our technology, all without any technical complexity.

The CV of Arnaud Soubien, CEO and co-founder of RollingFunds

Arnaud Soubien started his career in the capital markets. At Crédit Agricole CIB, he worked for nearly 15 years in the structuring of corporate securitisation transactions, at European and international level. After his initial experience in the general management of a Fintech specialising in factoring, in 2018 Arnaud Soubien created the startup RollingFunds, which aims to provide financing solutions to VSEs-SMEs directly integrated into a B2B business relationship.

RollingFunds has developed a technology platform to automate the granting and management of loans for VSEs-SMEs. The financing platform is directly integrated into the tools and organisations of its key account partners, suppliers and VSEs-SMEs.

RollingFunds offers 3 types of funding:

  • 1-click credit,
  • advances on sales or other receivables,
  • the financing of purchases.

RollingFunds has just completed a new investor round with AG2R La Mondiale, CCR, PRO BTP, Truffle Capital and leading business angels, for a sum of over 5 million euros.

To find out more about this topic

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Webhelp Partner at CCA Leaders' Summit

We are delighted to announce our involvement as a partner in the 2022 Customer Contact Association (CCA) Leaders’ Summit, taking place in Glasgow on the 27th of April. 

The event will welcome over 200 senior customer service and experience executives from some of the leading brands in the UK & Ireland, providing a platform to collaborate and connect with business leaders and discuss the latest customer experience innovations shaping the customer contact industry. 

Webhelp will be represented by Vicki Wharton, our newly appointed Managing Director for the financial services sector.  Vicki has over 20 years of experience working with global financial services brands, deploying her deep knowledge of customer experience and operational performance to deliver a wide range of transformational projects within the sector. 

Joining Vicki Wharton will be Vicki Butcher, Client Partner at Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group.

Vicki Wharton commented: 

“I’m delighted to be attending the CCA Leaders’ Summit to meet and network with like-minded customer and operational leaders, discussing the challenges and opportunities they face in their industry, and how these will shape customer experience strategies moving forward.” 

The evening of the Leaders’ Summit sees the prestigious CCA Excellence Awards take place. 

The CCA Excellence Awards are extremely well regarded across the industry as the ultimate recognition for customer service excellence, aiming to celebrate those companies who have achieved extraordinary success or individuals who have shown exceptional leadership, passion and commitment. 

Webhelp has been nominated for four awards on the night: 

  • Excellence in skills, learning & development 
  • Outstanding flexible working programme
  • Team of the year
  • Excellence in business process outsourcing collaboration  

 Commenting on the awards, Vicki added: 

“This is a great opportunity to join business leaders and discuss the innovations shaping the customer contact industry.” 

The CCA Leaders’ Summit should provide a timely opportunity to discuss and debate the trends and behaviours that will shape the rest of 2022 and beyond in CX – and celebrate those organisations that are already delivering customer service excellence. 

To register your place, click here.


Webhelp and Uitblinqers join forces to strengthen position in Dutch market

Today Webhelp and Uitblinqers announce they are joining forces to strengthen their position in the Dutch market. Uitblinqers will continue its rapid growth trajectory under Webhelp and will remain a stand-alone entity in the Netherlands under its current management team.

Uitblinqers’ unique employee proposition is aimed at developing talented young professionals, combined with a strong focus and reputation for delivering commercial, innovative and digital-first client services. Merging their diversity of employees and comprehensive range of services, Uitblinqers and Webhelp will bring a unique proposition to the market to provide scalable, flexible and high-quality solutions to its combined portfolio of clients.

Aligned to the services of Webhelp Suriname, Telecats, Netino and Medica, Uitblinqers will strengthen Webhelp’s ability to meet the changing and increased client demand. Together, the companies will work together to design game-changing customer journeys for today’s digital world.

“With Hugo, Bas and the entire team of Uitblinqers, we’ll continue our journey to offer the very best and most distinctive services in the Dutch market. Uitblinqers has found a new and entrepreneurial way to shape customer service with a unique workforce; quickly and smartly improving the contact for clients. Both our organizations’ commitment to the Built to Last philosophy offers an incredible platform to grow our market position and sustainably source labor locally and globally,” says Ronald van Schijndel, CEO Webhelp Netherlands & Suriname.

The companies’ shared culture and entrepreneurial mindset were essential drivers for the cooperation. Both Webhelp and Uitblinqers have built a culture around a people-first mindset – embracing this to tackle the fast-paced market’s challenges. The current challenges in the CX industry, be it the labor market or the rapid pace of technological developments, also generate new opportunities for collaboration. The constant urge to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit and search for new solutions lies in the companies’ combined DNA.

“This great step allows us to continue to focus on our unique culture, people and growth. After all, we’ve only just started and there’s still a lot to gain and improve in the customer experience space. The people-first match was a deciding factor. We share this focus but our focus is specifically on empowering young and talented individuals. With this clarity of purpose, we are and remain complementary to each other, serving our clients together or as separate labels and always growing together: Bigger & Better,” commented Hugo Gubbels, CEO & Founder Uitblinqers and Bas Diepeveen, Co-founder & CCO.

Together, Webhelp Netherlands and Uitblinqers will provide a solution for every question in CX, bringing the industry to new heights.

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The changing role of technology in CX

The Changing Role Of Technology In Customer Experience

Technology is a fundamental pillar of customer service design in today’s modern CX environment.

It’s impossible to imagine a customer service solution without technology at the core of the process. However, based on our research in partnership with industry analyst Frost & Sullivan, around 75% of organizations struggle to deploy CX technologies at scale. 

So – while those responsible for designing customer service solutions know that technology underpins modern CX, most struggle with large technology projects. 

So what can we do to improve this?

Firstly, it’s worth examining why technology has become so pervasive in CX. From the traditional post-purchase call to a customer service support line, we are now in an environment where the customer journeys must be designed to build and maintain a positive long-term relationship. Now customers are likely to engage with a brand before, during, and long after purchase. They are often not calling for help or support, they are reinforcing the relationship, and of course, there is now an expectation that every step is tailored to their unique needs. 

CX technologies create the ability to communicate more efficiently with customers, gain more valuable insight into what customers need and prefer, and dramatically improve advisors’ ability to help customers. The gamification of processes inside the contact center is one example of how service quality can be enhanced by increasing employee engagement.  

This means that design thinking needs to be applied to the modern customer journey. We should understand how the customer becomes aware of our brand, how they obtain more information, and how they gradually move towards a purchase. Technology needs to be designed to support and enable this overall journey once the design has been established. 

The changing role of technology in CX

There are several distinct areas to be considered:

  • People: technology can be used inside the contact center to help advisors. It can reduce repetitive tasks, automate processes, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to augment and support people’s roles – for example, supporting with multilingual service requests or searching for information as a conversation takes place and then advising the advisor on the next best action.  
  • Insight: you can dive into customer transaction data to create insights. What are they searching or browsing? Do their purchases correlate with certain dates, events, or weather patterns? Using data analytics to find patterns in your customer data will allow much greater personalization. 
  • Channels: customers want to engage on social channels Instagram and TikTok. They want to use asynchronous messaging tools like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Outreach to a brand may be via a personal blog, rather than a call to the customer service team. You need to be across all these channels and offer in-app service where appropriate. 
  • Infrastructure and Security: customer service processes are no longer locked down inside a contact center. You can create a secure distributed network of customer advisors that work from home. This can create the ability to hire expertise from anywhere and to build more flexibility into working hours. The infrastructure required to deliver this consistently needs to be robust, with investment cycles well planned. 

Because commuting to a contact center and then working a continuous 8-hour shift has been replaced by a more flexible hybrid approach, including working from home, workforce management (WFM) systems have also become essential to modern customer service processes. Matching your available team to peak times when most customers need help can create more flexible working hours for the advisors and allow the brand to help customers faster. 

Calabrio WFM is a highly agile and scalable workforce management platform that allows the delivery of seamless experiences for customers, advisors and contact center managers—no matter where employees are working. Webhelp works with Calabrio to gain greater visibility into employee performance metrics through personalized dashboards containing the data that can help their performance and allows them to leverage tools such as self-scheduling. 

“In today’s new reality, technology and workforce management are no longer optional. Brands aren’t able to deliver a truly seamless experience without having a seamless internal process too. Calabrio’s cloud platform is perfectly suited for dynamic global players like Webhelp, enabling them to truly understand their CX operations, no matter the set-up, whether it be on-site, virtual or hybrid,” said Magnus Geverts, VP, Product Marketing, Calabrio. 

Designing a modern customer experience is impossible without technology. Customer interactions are no longer restricted to voice calls. Customer and employee expectations have been elevated through technological advancement and the experience of more flexible work throughout the pandemic. 

Technology is now the foundation of customer experience.

It is no longer just a tool for designing a customer service solution – it defines how customer relationships are managed.  

A recent paper explains the Webhelp Anywhere methodology and the Frost & Sullivan research in more detail.  


Webhelp positioned as a Leader in 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Customer Service BPO

Paris, France – 6 April 2022 – Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience (CX) and business solutions, today announced it has been positioned by Gartner® as a Leader in the 2022 Magic Quadrant™ for Customer Service Business Process Outsourcing (CS BPO).1

Gartner defines the customer service business process outsourcing (CS BPO) market as “the delegation of customer service business process activities to support existing and potential clients to a third-party service provider. The services provided may include digital services, assisted channel services, technology and system integration, infrastructure, software development and design, reporting and analytics, and business process management.”

Webhelp believes readers will learn more about the consistency and adaptability of its global WoW operating model, impressive proprietary AI-powered Natural Language Learning Platform, as well as its strong cybersecurity and data protection credentials in this report.

This recognition comes when customer experience is of critical importance to brands, with 92% of CX leaders planning to transform their operations over the next 12 months, according to research from Webhelp and Frost & Sullivan.

“We are incredibly proud of this recognition from Gartner, validating our position as a global leader in customer experience,” said Olivier Duha, CEO and Co-Founder of Webhelp. “We feel it’s great to be acknowledged for our consistent quality, AI-powered technologies, and cyber security capabilities. As a business that now delivers services for over 1,300 brands across 55+ countries, we understand how important investment in these areas is for our clients.”

Gartner, a company that delivers actionable, objective insight to its executive and their teams, and Gartner Magic Quadrant gives enterprise technology shoppers an unbiased assessment of how well-competing providers are performing against the Gartner market view and is supplemented by validated user reviews. Providers are positioned into four quadrants: Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries, and Niche Players. BPOs were evaluated based on 15 criteria, including customer experience, market strategy, product/service, operations, and innovation.

This announcement follows a series of accolades from top industry analysts, with Webhelp being recognized as the most innovative CX provider in Frost and Sullivan’s 2021 Frost Radar™ report, Additionally, the Group was named as a Leader in Everest Group’s 2021 Customer Experience Management (CXM) PEAK Matrix® Assessment, for the third consecutive year.

To read the 2022 Magic Quadrant™ for Customer Service Business Process Outsourcing (CS BPO), courtesy of Webhelp, please visit webhelp.com/magic-quadrant.

Gartner Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in our research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Gartner and Magic Quadrant are registered trademarks of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Customer Service BPO, Deborah Alvord, Kathy Ross, Mark Dauigoy, Uma Challa, 28th March 2022

About Webhelp

Webhelp designs, delivers, and optimizes unforgettable human experiences for today’s digital world – creating game-changing customer journeys. From sales to service, content moderation to credit management, Webhelp is an end-to-end partner across all B2C and B2B customer journeys. Its over 100,000 passionate employees across more than 55 countries thrive on making a difference for the world’s most exciting brands. Webhelp is currently owned by its management and Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (Euronext: GBLB), a leading global investment holding, as of November 2019.

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ccessing CX Talent In the Modern Work Environment

Accessing CX Talent In the Modern Work Environment

Modern customer service solutions need flexibility and scalability.

In fact, 99% of CX leaders say they are important factors. Traditional customer service solutions based in physical contact centers almost always struggled with seasonal peaks – partly because you can only get so many people into an office. Today, seasonality and challenging business peaks are now just an accepted feature of the business environment. 

With competition for talent and consumer expectations both at an all-time high, resourcing customer experience services effectively has never been more challenging. A resilient and flexible customer service solution needs to be delivered at a time when talent is harder than ever to find. So how do we build a solution that delivers the required flexibility and also engages the advisors on the frontline? 

The first step is to think about how and where the customer service solution should be delivered.  

First, what kind of sourcing and shoring will be required?

Naturally this depends on questions such as the level of resilience, and your ability to locate the required skills: 

  • Onshore: the customer service advisors are located close to the service provider, typically in the same country or even the same state or city. 
  • Nearshore: the advisors are located close enough for a day trip to be possible, but potentially in a different country – for example Eastern Europe servicing customers elsewhere on the continent. 
  • Offshore: the advisors can be located almost anywhere internationally. 

ccessing CX Talent In the Modern Work Environment

Then, where will your advisors be located for work itself?

The pandemic proved to many executives that work-from-home (WFH) solutions are not only possible, but can also be secure and more productive. Now it’s time to embrace that experience as we redefine how customer experience is designed. Will you use a contact center or allow everyone to WFH or arrange a hybrid arrangement that is more flexible? 

  • WFH: advisors working from their own home, no location proximity needed 
  • Hybrid: the ability to mix and match, so advisors can work from home, from an office, and even from other secure locations – such as an office rented for a single day. 
  • Contact Center: a traditional office environment for the customer service team. 

By exploring the nine options this three-by-three set of options creates, it will be possible to define your initial strategy. For large organizations, these will likely span more than one box. For example, if offshoring is not appropriate for a particular process then you can compare the merits of onshore advisers with nearshoring and then look at both these choices with the different work location options. 

This approach creates the possibility that you can source talent anywhere. You can build an approach to locating customer service expertise that is borderless and global. It allows you to decide where the customer service processes should be delivered, and based on the role profiles needed for a process, brand, or service – then allows for an exploration of where the best talent is located.  

Flexibility in work location works well for advisors. In our recent research with Frost & Sullivan, 76% of executives said they believe that customer service advisors should be able to choose where they work. People want flexibility and it can be designed into the solution. Without this flexibility it will be a challenge to both attract and retain the best CX talent. 

Locating and attracting the best CX talent today requires the ability to offer flexibility and support. You should engage your teams constantly and center programs around their needs to create an impactful experience. You also need to show that they can develop new skills, at the same time, offering more flexible hours than a traditional contact center.”  Webhelp Group Chief People Officer – Francesca Zanisi

Technology can also be used to help augment the individual team members. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can listen to customers and direct the advisor towards the next best action. Automation can reduce the need to use multiple systems – most repetitive actions can be removed. Tools like Polyglot can help agents to work across different languages – an advisor offering text support on WhatsApp can work in English, even if the customer is sending messages in a different language. 

“Technology now plays a central role in creating a flexible virtual contact center that can be accessed by customer advisors from the office or their home from anywhere in the world. The consistent experience and collaboration that the right platform can provide helps to foster a shared environment for people engagement and service performance. In addition, the various technology solutions deployed in modern customer service operations can augment the role of the advisor and help them to be more effective when helping customers. This also gives the customer more options and a better experience.”

Webhelp Group CTO – Yan Noblot 

Modern customer service solutions need a wide range of skills. The customer service advisor is no longer the only consideration. Network and security expertise is required. Software developers are required to build bespoke solutions and code automated systems. Data analytics and AI is required to create insight into customer behavior and preferences. 

For all these reasons, accessing CX talent is no longer about just finding a steady supply of advisors for your contact center. The solution requires a wide array of skills and people that want more flexibility in their work location and hours. By blending individual locations and using a strategy, you can create the best combination of flexibility for the customer service employees and a resilient customer service operation. 

A recent paper explains the Webhelp Anywhere methodology and the Frost & Sullivan research in more detail.  


Three questions on... Webhelp Anywhere

Robin Harrison, Webhelp’s Chief Marketing Officer, talks through what Webhelp Anywhere means for brands interested in delivering world-class customer service, flexibly and at scale.


What is Webhelp Anywhere?

Webhelp Anywhere is two things: 

  1. It’s a new methodology for designing operating models for customer operations, which are fit for the future – incorporating shoring and new working models 
  2. Coupled with a hybrid-cloud platform to deliver these requirements both today, and tomorrow. 

Ultimately, Webhelp Anywhere helps organizations access the best of the talent and capabilities they need, at scale, to deliver world-class customer experience consistently and flexibly. 

The proprietary methodology creates the optimum design across onshore, nearshore, and offshore and on-site, hybrid and virtual environments, based on an individual brand’s requirements 

The platform is instantly flexible and infinitely scalable. It’s built around 6 integrated modules:

  1. talent
  2. engagement
  3. technology
  4. security
  5. performance
  6. resilience.  

The outcome is consistent performance and a seamless experience for customers, clients, and colleagues.


Why is it important now? 

Customer experience no longer means thinking about a single interaction between customer and contact centre advisor. It means considering multiple channels across the entire customer journey,  the processes which support them, in an ‘always on’ environment. 

To enable the execution of this kind of thinking, brands need to consider the operation, the people, and the technology that underpins all of this.  

To give an idea of the complexity – the Anywhere approach assesses over 50 design criteria to create the right blend of shoring models and new working models based on the requirements of any individual business.  

But there are really 3 core questions that companies need to be asking themselves: 

  1. What does best in class customer experience look like for my business?
  2. How and where can I attract, retain, and develop the right talent to support this?
  3. How do leverage technology, shoring, and working models to drive flexibility and scalability into my operation, without compromising performance or security? 


What do companies need to be thinking about? 

Customer service design had already begun a process of massive transformation when the pandemic put it directly in the spotlight in 2020.  

What we’re seeing now is a major acceleration of this experience revolution. In fact, after 2 years of having to deal with what was immediately in front of them, 92% of CX leaders are telling us they are going to transform their operation in the next 12 months. 

If organizations are going to do this, and do it properly, traditional thinking and approaches will no longer work.


If you’re interested in finding out how Webhelp Anywhere can help your organisation provide flexible, scalable, world-class customer service, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Protect moderators well-being to protect your online communities

Online platforms must do more to safeguard the people protecting us from harmful content

Social media has transformed the lives of billions of people around the world through new connections and shared experiences. But sadly, it’s also proved to be alarmingly effective for spreading dangerous content like scams, child pornography, extremism, terrorism, online abuse, and cyber bullying. These risks to the public are real, serious, and well-documented, with a multitude of initiatives in place to crack down on breaches.

The impact on content moderators is gradually getting the attention it deserves, but initiatives are not always up to it – they are the heroes holding the line. These are the people who day in, day out have the responsibility of constantly monitoring, analyzing, and responding to distressing, disturbing and suspect material.

content-moderator-protect-their-wellbeing

Humans enhanced by AI

The sheer size and scope of social media platforms – many of which are reliant on user generated content (UGC) – means it’s unrealistic that all of them could now be instantly moderated solely by people. For example, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) receives three million reports on content every day, flagged by AI or users. And even this brand – one of the biggest on the planet – has just 15,000 directly or indirectly employed content moderators globally to manage reviews, posts, pictures and videos. Meanwhile, a 2020 report by business school NYU Sterna suggested Twitter had only 1,500 human moderators to deal with 199 million daily users across the globe.

With billions of users across both platforms, those sound-like potential recipes for stress and overwhelm. The ideal solution for human moderators and AI to work in synergy. But for now, human moderators must bear the brunt for the online community – because the hard truth is that AI isn’t able to take over the whole job – at least, not yet.

Documents leaked from Facebook in September 2021 revealed that its automated systems struggle to deal with hate speech and terrorism content. One main stumbling block was that although the AI systems operate in 50+ languages, the platform is used in more than 100 languages. Platform owner, Meta, is now developing its own AI system dubbed the Meta AI Few-Shot Learner (FSL), which has been rolled out on Facebook and Instagram.  Its long-term vision is “to achieve human-like learning flexibility and efficiency.”

Creating these AI is extremely complex and tedious as thousands of items need to be accurately annotated for the AI to independently recognize them and act. Meta’s system is already making progresses on this side as it needs to see fewer examples to identify troublesome posts and works in more than 100 languages.

But even Meta admits these are “early days” of what it describes as intelligent, generalized AI models. Tellingly, it also points out: “There’s a long road ahead before AI can comprehend dozens of pages of policy text and immediately know exactly how to enforce it.”

Elsewhere in the market, we see further positive signs of real progress by independent industry providers. These solutions understand context to a certain degree, work in any language, handle informal language, slang or dialect, and learns from human moderators as they work.

Recognizing employers’ responsibility

The current reality is that machines can’t suffer distress from scanning content – but people can. And as global employers, online platforms have a responsibility to safeguard people’s well-being, and BPOs need to support them in that direction. Content moderators are navigating complex legislation regarding the removal of offensive content, working to legal deadlines to remove posts, as well as brands’ SLAs. Not to mention acting on a moral imperative to protect users, particularly in vulnerable groups like children.

But some BPOs have got it badly wrong. It was widely reported that several content moderators at a NASDAQ-listed BPO had allegedly suffered from secondary traumatic stress as a result of witnessing first-hand trauma experienced by others, which tends to result in anxiety, sleep loss, loneliness, and dissociation.

Similarities can be found between moderators and journalists, sex-trafficking detectives, and emergency dispatchers. With common symptoms from these professions developing PTSD-like symptoms, anxiety and depression.

Many moderators face a daily onslaught of disturbing posts filled with hate speech, violent attacks and graphic content. They are offered little to no support or counselling in large companies, and even after leaving, some have developed mental health disorders and they were still offered no support.

Setting the standard

At Webhelp, we’ve invested heavily in what we think is a leading approach to moderating online content for clients, while prioritizing the mental health of our people. That means fully recognizing and putting in place a raft of services and support mechanisms to proactively monitor and address the unique pressures content moderators are under.

As a people-first company, it’s our stated mission to make sure every team member feels happy, valued, and recognized. It’s a philosophy that underpins everything we do. And because we understand that wellness is such a key factor in enabling our employees to give their best, we’ve designed our own custom-built program comprising wellbeing, technology and psychotherapy.

Well-being as a way of working

We learned that well-being was a concern for our employees’, so we implemented more than 80 new initiatives early-2021 – all aimed at protecting our content moderators’ physical and mental health.

A key part of that is being proactive and being able to recognize when things aren’t quite right, or one of our team members needs help.

We’ve introduced wellness centers, where advisors can access psychological care and support – onsite throughout the day and outside of working hours as 24/7 external helplines are available to them. This is complemented by our WebHEALTH program, which focuses on fitness workouts, massages and meditation sessions for all our teams. We also put in place a tranche of preventative mental health programs.

We’re already seeing positive results, including a boost in loyalty and productivity. For example, since launching a scheme to encourage employees to share experiences, we’ve seen a 50% reduction in mental health-related absenteeism. Now, as part of our intention to expand these services, we’re in the process of enhancing our in-house solutions with an external workplace well-being actor.

Psychological solutions

Our state of mind and conscious thoughts have a huge bearing on how we feel physically. That’s why we’ve implemented several, carefully interlinked facilities and services based around psychological well-being initiatives and counselling.

Most importantly, it’s a crucial tool that helps us identify anyone who might be suffering with poor mental health and address any issues as quickly as possible. Whenever needed, we can offer follow-up support ranging from informal meetings with team leaders, through to appointments with external psychologists.

Technology for good

Webhelp is combining human expertise with technology, and this is core to our value proposition.

On top of managing the amount of sensitive content each individual moderator sees daily, our AI-driven People Analytics tool serves a sophisticated early-warning system that monitors moderators’ daily well-being in real-time. The system monitors signs of potential difficulty, such as absence and accuracy and combines this with insights from daily questionnaires to identify even barely perceptible patterns of behavior that could be red flags. The system attributes a ‘wellness score’ to our resources and can alert human team leaders when it becomes too low, allowing them to be ready and well-prepared – if or when they need to step in.

Our number one job

We’re continually developing our technologies, but we can’t foresee a time when machines could completely replace the human touch and expertise of our people. So, we’ll continue to support our content moderators in doing an incredibly tough job.

 

Because protecting them means protecting the whole community.

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Grow your own capability or outsource to experts?

How to make the right choice for your operation and your customer

This article was originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of Institute of Water Magazine, authored by Hayley Monks, Managing Director of Utilities for Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group.


UK utility companies are under increased scrutiny as costs begin to rise. Consumers are feeling the pressure as combined water and sewerage bills for 2022/23 will rise by £7 to an annual average of £419 while water-only bills will be an average of £4 more from April. Whilst the average increase of 1.7% on combined water and sewerage bills is below inflation prices vary across England and Wales, with some customers seeing a hike of up to 10% or a fall of 6%.  

Increasing costs, technological advances, pressures on operations, staffing and recruitment all place pressure on businesses to become as agile as possible and operate effectively in a changing and often unpredictable environment.    

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

Here are some questions to think about when engaging a strategic service partner to support service improvement and cost reduction. 


How will you supercharge your digital transformation journey?

The pandemic has exacerbated the need for digital transformation across the sector and a significant number of businesses look to an outsourcer to support their transformation journey.  

From deploying the right technology, to assessing existing digital journeys and creating the right balance between digital and human solutions. A strategic service partner offers centres of excellence that can support businesses to develop and deliver large scale, customer-led digital transformation programmes.  

Engaging an expert partner whose core activity is transformation, digital customer experience, self-service and multi-channel strategy can be the answer.  Giving you access to teams of customer journey and analytics experts, who can bring an understanding of drivers for customer demand, remove barriers to digital adoption, create revenue opportunities and provide best practice CX strategies.  

But you want to maintain control. Business leaders often feel like outsourcing means losing this. The right outsourcing relationship should feel like a true partnership and an extension of your business – giving you confidence that you have delegated the activity to experts in their field who can deliver. 


Can you create confidence from shared commercial objectives? 

Creating commercial certainty in an uncertain world has never been more important.  A modern, innovative a strategic service partner will work closely with its clients to develop shared commercial objectives.  Ensuring both businesses succeed together.  

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



Is your current operating model inflexible and in need of modernisation?

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

Transitioning to a completely elastic operation as standard can take time and can be a costly learning curve. One thing that many companies have learnt as a result of COVID-19 the need to be agile and support people to work from wherever and however they want to work.  But as customer demand grows, a strategic service partner can deliver an always-on, cost effective solution, customisable across multiple geographies and languages, and with access to specialist skills as required – combining to offer a solution capable of meeting their short and long-term customer operation demands. 


Do you have a solution to short term, unpredictable or seasonal demand?

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


Do you have limited access to highly specialised services and skillsets that can  provide the insight, and enable the transformation, you need?

The ability to work anywhere has grown in the last 18 months some geographies still struggle to recruit and retain talent.  An organisation may want to resource all their services themselves, but the pipeline is either not there or costly to maintain. 

The growth of the digital customer continues and with it comes differing customer journey challenges.  A strategic service partners offers more specialist solutions such as:   

Data and analytics expertise to support businesses to bring true understanding of their customers and their needs.  Strategic service partners embrace the wealth of data available from front-line, real-time customer interactions, creating actionable insights to deliver transformative, personalised and innovative customer experiences. An in-house option can work, however it requires long term commitment and knowledge development, which may not suit those who need to deliver change fast. 

Access to specialist digital content services to moderate and manage content on digital platforms.  Content moderation can be a drain on resources in an environment where users expect content to be published in near real-time – a strategic service partner can offer a combination of highly experienced content moderation experts and automation tools to support the best user experience.   

A popular area for outsourcing is secure payment services, offering safe and simple solutions for customers and organisations. Managing customer and financial data should be done with great consideration.  Your chosen strategic partner will become a data processer and responsible for looking after your data. Due diligence on data governance and management is an essential – this can be time consuming. 

Business process outsourcing can be an incredibly positive step for businesses of all sizes, from fast growing companies scaling up their operations to established businesses looking to start, or take the next step on, their digital transformation journey. Finding a partner that fits your brand and values is just as important as any cost saving opportunity. 


At Webhelp, we are primed to support you with any plans you may have for strategic growth and customer solutions.

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

Hayley Monks

Managing Director, Utilities

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Where cryptocurrency meets Know Your Customer

There’s a strong case to be made that, as a society, we are in the advent stage of mainstream crypto. Consider the following three indicators: Firstly, it’s becoming seen as a normal part of our everyday life. The 2022 Superbowl saw over 112 million people tune in worldwide, with a significant portion watching the half time advertisements for FTX Trading and Crypto.com. There’s also been massive investment in Formula 1 and the English Premier League, with ByBit partnering with F1 champs Red Bull, and Dogecoin and CoinJar sponsoring Watford FC and Brentford FC, respectively. 

The second reason is that crypto is becoming much more stable than before. Many cautious investors were previously discouraged by crypto’s volatility and complexity. It was difficult for the average person on the street to understand its purpose or to predict its movements. That’s all now beginning to change – with more providers and greater participation from the wider public, the market has arguably become more stable and efficient. 

Lastly, crypto is becoming more widely recognised as a mainstream currency, making greater inroads to sit alongside fiat currencies used globally Increasingly, major banking services are offering crypto as part of their services. Revolut, for example, allows you to convert your cash into a wide selection of crypto currencies in just a few clicks. Opportunities have spread to other industries, with car dealerships as an example offering crypto as an alternative to traditional payment methods. 

As we sit on the cusp of a new era for crypto, the question we’re asking is – how critical is Know Your Customer going to be? 

KYC in a nutshell

Know Your Customer (KYC) is a fundamental part of an organisation’s risk management practice 

It involves: 

  1. establishing who your customer is,  
  2. verifying their identity,  
  3. building up a risk profiles of the customer, and then  
  4. monitoring that throughout the lifecycle of their engagement with the company 

What KYC Means

Anonymous by design

Crypto, by nature, takes a decentralised approach. It was originally designed and built in a manner that allows its customers to remain anonymous, and protect their personal information from central governing bodies. Anonymity has been crucial to this development since the very beginning – Satoshi Nakamoto, credited with developing and creating the concept, is a pseudonym used by an unknown individual or individuals – and therefore, the traditional rules of tracking customer information do not typically apply. As a result, KYC poses a major challenge for global regulators when it comes to the increasing growth of crypto.

Crypto organisations have been pressured of late to introduce KYC checks in order to be permitted to operate through global jurisdictions. Binance, for example, recently introduced ID and facial recognition checks in order to operate in, and through, the UK. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has also gone further, cracking down on bitcoin ATMs and ordering the closure of all Bitcoin cashpoints in the UK. For the compliance specialist, some of these restrictions make a great deal of sense in the face of historic and current misuse of cryptocurrencies, as platforms for money laundering, fraud, and financing of terrorism, along with documented links to cyber warfare. 

To add to the complication is the recent rise in popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), digital items – frequently artworks – that are traded for often extremely high values based on their inherent scarcity. In 2020, roughly $120m of NFTs were traded. In 2021, that number was closer to $21.5bn. The concern around NFTs is that they aren’t yet explicitly regulated, and are therefore not subject to the same scrutiny, exacerbating the potential issues around fraud and money laundering. 


Statue of Satoshi Nakamoto, Budapest, Hungary

New world, old solutions

The reluctance across the crypto community to comply with traditional regulation is strong, and its effect is very real. Many argue that it goes against the very foundations of the technology, and undermines the anonymous nature of crypto. As a result of the introduction of KYC measures, some firms – such as Coindesk – have seen huge losses in customer numbers. KYC can introduce friction and cost into the onboarding process, putting new customers off, and ultimately costing the firm more money. 

An additional consideration is whether the regulations are having the desired effect. With a suspected $9bn laundered through crypto in 2021, it’s clear that something still isn’t working. 

Part of the problem is clearly down to the processes and solutions being used, which often struggle to maintain effectiveness at scale as users and transactions increase. This is in part driven by a ‘lift-and-shift’ of traditional approaches to KYC, and trying to make them work in a non-traditional set-up. Another problem is that, unlike traditional FS organisations, in crypto organisations KYC often only enters the process once trading is enabled. This means trading can happen immediately, and any concerns need to be remediated at a later point in time, defeating the whole purpose of the check in the first place; put simply, it does not work. 

Whatever the reasons are, and there are numerous, it’s worth noting that a recent survey suggests that only 31% of crypto exchanges have complete and transparent KYC checks in place.  



What to do?

It’s inevitable, and welcomed, that some form of increased regulation will be introduced into crypto, but what that looks like is still uncertain. What is certain, however, is that if crypto organisations want to continue operating at scale, across global jurisdictions – and protect themselves against the impacts of getting things wrong – KYC should be a key priority for them. 

Contrary to some industry thinking, two things can be true at the same time: 

  • We should be able to live and operate in a world with strict privacy, where pseudonyms and direct, private interactions are possible 

and

  • We should be able to hold people accountable for wrongdoing, finding ways to quickly identify and deal with bad actors 

To do this, we need to ensure the correct balance, designing KYC in a way that doesn’t introduce cost or friction into the customer experience, while ensuring that the solution effectively does what it needs to do. 

By managing KYC in crypto in the right way, organisations will be able to: 

  • Improve customer transparency and trust, leading to greater adoption nationwide and globally 
  • Proactively combat the rising risks of money laundering, fraud and other scams 
  • Continue to improve the overall market stability, allowing firms to scale and grow 
  • Protect organisations’ profit and loss from regulatory and government sanctions. 

There’s no doubt that KYC process are going to become increasingly embedded within crypto, but the key is to use this for competitive advantage through elegantly designed solutions – whether that’s electronic ID verification (eIDV) , automation, streamlined UX or more. It’s all possible, and it’s all up for grabs. 


At Webhelp, we support our clients globally with KYC advice, solutions and implementation. Please get in touch if you have any questions. 

Jonathan Cowey

Business Director, Regulated Services

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