Webhelp Appoints Francesca Zanisi to Group Chief People Officer

Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience (CX) and business solutions, has appointed Francesca Zanisi as its new Group Chief People Officer. As a member of Webhelp’s executive committee, Francesca will lead the group’s people strategy to discover the top talent while helping it’s over 100,000 passionate game-changers grow and thrive in the business.

Francesco joins Webhelp with over 20 years of relevant experience, after working in various roles across Europe for companies such as Unilever, Amazon, Booking.com. Most recently at Criteo, she oversaw the business’ people engagement, talent and culture and employer branding. Previously, was responsible for developing Amazon’s EU Learning Team in Luxembourg, where she discovered her passion for talent management.

Based out of Webhelp’s headquarters in Paris, Francesca will take ownership of the group’s talent management roadmap and strategy as the company continues to scale. Her experience working in the tech industry’s rapidly changing landscape will elevate Webhelp’s approach to attracting competitive talent, managing employees, and maintaining culture across a global environment.

“I am honored to join the leadership team at Webhelp and look forward to building upon this wonderful culture. My focus will be on shaping the culture and environment where our people feel empowered to learn, grow and succeed. The values and culture at Webhelp resonate strongly with my personal approach, so I am eager to use my experience to help shape a game-changing experience for our Webhelpers,” said Francesca.

Olivier Duha, CEO & Co-Founder of Webhelp shared,

“People first has been a mantra at Webhelp since day one and is something our global teams have worked tirelessly to foster across the group. The decision to hire for this new role underlines our dedication to bringing an employee experience to fuel our people-first business approach. I’m thrilled to welcome Francesca to the team and look forward to seeing how she further develops this fundamental pillar of our business.”

The announcement comes during a time of excitement as Webhelp was recently awarded the Global Impact Sourcing Award, for its global approach to impact sourcing. This strategy focuses on countless local initiatives aiming to empower individuals with career opportunities previously excluded from the labor market. Webhelp’s goal is that 15% of new hires are impact sourced by 2025.


Webhelp to deliver solution for ‘the next normal’ in customer experience

Paris, France – 16th March 2022 Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience (CX) and business solutions, has rolled-out Webhelp Anywhere; a proprietary methodology for designing customer operations, delivered using a secure and scalable hybrid-cloud platform.  

The launch comes at a pivotal time in CX, with 98% of organizations planning to undergo a transformation of operations within 24 months, according to research from Frost & Sullivan. 

The Webhelp Anywhere framework is designed around business-specific needs and strategy, helping to optimize cost and experience for clients. It encompasses best-in-class technologies and tools to offer flexibility, scalability, and consistent delivery wherever operations and teams are based, and however they want to work. 

The methodology combines bestshoring with new hybrid and remote delivery models, while the platform provides a flexible and scalable infrastructure. This enables brands to adapt to new challenges and opportunities, from pandemics to rapid growth. 

The announcement comes as models of work, CX delivery, and customer engagement are changing, with 91% of CX management saying they expect remote working to form a permanent part of their customer facing operations coming out of the pandemic. Webhelp Anywhere supports this shift, enabling new ways of working while also providing a harmonized approach to CX delivery. 

“It is positive to see in our research, 98% of brands plan to transform customer experience within the next two years,” commented Matthieu Bouin, Group Managing Director at Webhelp. “Traditional approaches to this transformation are no longer appropriate, and organizations need to consider how they think differently to support their customers. Through Webhelp Anywhere we can help brands navigate these challenges using a holistic tech-enabled approach that is built to last.” 

The launch follows Webhelp being named as the most innovative CX outsourcing services provider in the latest Frost Radar™ report from Frost & Sullivan. Webhelp scored top marks ahead of 18 other companies in the analysis, with the report noting, “Webhelp has designed and implemented one of the industry’s most forward-looking and comprehensive strategies for work from home.” 

– ENDS- 

Notes to editors: 

  • Research referenced comes from a new report titled: Reimagining Customer Experience and Management for Competitive Advantage 
  • For more details on Webhelp Anywhere please visit:

Webhelp Anywhere

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. 


digital dealerships in the automotive industry

Why car manufacturers need digital dealerships, not call centers

digital dealerships in the automotive industry

Automotive can be an enigmatic industry. World-leading in terms of product design, technology, and innovation – yet one of the last sectors to embrace digital to fully support their customers.

Almost all consumers will visit a manufacturer’s website at some stage when looking to buy a new car, but only a fraction will complete a purchase there. Most complete their journey elsewhere – either with competitors or offline in dealerships.

Yet around 60% of all new car buyers said buying online is appealing and they would do far more via digital channels, if it were possible. This includes tasks which traditionally were only carried out in dealerships, such as understanding jargon and technical details, comparing models according to personal criteria, deciding which to buy, finding deals, calculating budgetary factors, comparing insurance and service packages, agreeing the final price of the new car and trade-in, and checking their eligibility for finance.

Almost one third (29%) of people would be happy to self-serve online; and the same percentage again said they would need the reassurances and interactions that only humans can provide.

The only way to reach the second group is to replicate online, the same high standard of specialist product and financing expertise that previously customers only received at a physical showroom.

Building “Digital Dealerships” represents a massive opportunity for automotive brands to provide what almost a third of their potential customers want in terms of a digital experience. While massively improving experiences for everyone and driving higher conversion rates and sales online and offline, “Digital Dealerships” will also gradually increase direct relationships with their customers.

But it’s a difficult journey.

For years, brands have asked outsourcing providers to deliver call centers for essential customer services at scale across multiple regions, based mainly on securing the most competitive cost. To support the adoption of ecommerce, massively accelerated by COVID, manufacturers deployed chatbots and live chats, which were staffed by traditional customer-service agents, trained to capture contact details and find the nearest dealership. Today this results in frustrating and unproductive customer journeys and is no longer enough.

So how can manufacturers build their “Digital Dealerships”?

Build digital dealerships in-house

Some manufacturers created in-house teams capable of successfully supporting their ecommerce operations in a pilot market or two.

But they’ve found that replicating and scaling home-grown sales teams from a pilot country to multiple brands, markets and languages requires so much more time and money, that this approach is no longer viable.

At some point, manufacturers will find that outsourcing operations is the only realistic and scalable option available.

Outsource delivery to a specialized provider

Delivering a Digital Dealership is hard.

Half of the success is in developing the perfect mix of the right people with the right skills and training, data and insights, processes and supporting technologies.

The second half lies in successfully integrating it into manufacturers’ businesses and operations.

This makes it more of a journey than an ‘out of the box’ solution.

As a car manufacturer, your journey should start with finding a partner that brings the right mindset, people, insights, processes, and technology mix to the party – who won’t try to learn it all on your payroll.

To ensure that, we recommend you ask prospective suppliers the following questions:

  • What framework do you have to identify our maturity and current gaps, plan the journey, and manage its progress?
  • What soft and hard skills are the agents selected on, and what automotive-specific sales and product training should they undergo?
  • Would you have your agents undergo the same ongoing e-learning training and regular exams as my dealers?
  • Are your agents FCA (or equivalent) certified and trained to advise and sell finance and insurance products?
  • How incentivized are they to sell, remain and grow?
  • What processes, data, and insights do they use to improve customer experience and sales performance?
  • Do your agents use scripts? How prescriptive they are, and how often are these evaluated and optimized?
  • What languages, operating hours and peaks can the teams cover and absorb? Do they work from the office, remotely, or both?
  • What internal technologies do they use to access and maintain knowledge, learn, test, evaluate, and improve?

These answers will enable you to create a genuine digital dealership, and not a generalist customer support center.

If you need help or want to learn more about our journey and Digital Dealerships, get in touch.

About the author

Tomas Honz is Group Head of Solutions for Automotive and Mobility at Webhelp. He has over 20 years’ experience helping leading car manufacturers and retailers to maximize their use of online through innovations, best-practice customer experiences and deployment of people, processes, and technologies.

Tomas Honz

The business case for customer-led transformation in financial services

The financial services (FS) sector is under increasing pressure to modernise operational models whilst driving profitability, improving customer experience (CX), managing higher levels of risk, and looking after its people. 

 

In this rapidly changing business environment, customer-led transformation can enable firms to tackle these challenges, get ahead of potential disruptors, provide the proper channels to retain customers, and become agile enough to pivot when consumer behaviours inevitably change.  

 

As such, the firms that will most successfully evolve are those that commit to holistic, flexible, and connected customer-led transformation programmes. This article explores the crucial business case for doing so, providing advice and examples to guide firms in the right direction.  

Why is customer-led transformation so crucial in Financial Services?

In a recent article, Webhelp Financial Services Managing Director, Hervé Mazenod, explored the next wave of challenges that organisations were facing, many of which are already coming to the fore.  

 

For the general population, the long-term issue of the rising cost of living is significantly impacting consumers’ financial well-being. Plus, we are seeing an exacerbation of the narrative around increasing wages, increasing resignations, and an inability to recruit adequately. 

  

Regulatory pressure continues to build, with the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) proposed Consumer Duty being an example. While the Duty is there to protect customers, it will also complicate the supply of retail financial products and services for firms.  

 

Alongside these challenges, the importance of customer experience remains, with competition in the market continuing to grow relentlessly. In the UK, poor customer experience costs businesses over £37 billion per year, and there is a strong connection between customer satisfaction and sales gains, with companies seeing a 4.4% drop in sales when CSAT scores fall at least one point below the sector average.  

 

There are also continuous changes in consumer behaviour, with some considerable differences in customer experience expectations across Europe.  

 

Webhelp recently conducted a European survey to analyse customer perceptions of banking and insurance interactions. Here are some of the most prescient results.  

 

Customers prefer to avoid branch visits

Survey respondents preferred online channels, but voice was still popular in some countries. Still, interaction through a physical store or branch was the lowest preferred channel across Europe (19%). These findings mean that firms have an opportunity to better serve customers by investing in email, webchat, SMS, and social media, leading to enhanced customer experience and fewer overheads related to physical locations.  

 

Improving first-time resolution will boost loyalty

Around 25% of respondents said their provider did not resolve issues first time, and over 40% said it was a high effort to drive a resolution. When measuring these results against customer loyalty, 10% said they would reduce or cease their relationship with the business after their interaction, showing a clear opportunity to retain customers through improved experiences 

 

The threat of disruptive business models

Over 40% of customers said they would actively leave their current provider if brands such as Google or Amazon started offering banking services. By working to understand why customers would so willingly switch brands, businesses could pivot their offering to better meet customer needs, and pre-emptively disrupt the market.   

Customer needs are also becoming more complex and personal. With the proliferation of automation in the customer journey, the need for a human touch with empathetic customer experience agents will become more important for dealing with complex tasks. 

 

By meeting the combined weight of these challenges and recognising the customer’s evolving demands, firms have a clear opportunity to differentiate in the market – a differentiation that begins with developing a robust customer-led transformation programme. 


The outcomes of a successful transformation

The external factors justifying customer-led transformation are highly compelling, with a broad range of outcomes that firms can factor into an associated business case.

Higher Profitability

While customer experience transformation requires investment, the benefits quickly outweigh the costs. By focusing on fluidity of service, the often hidden cost of poor experience is brought to the surface as unnecessary hand-offs, delays, errors, queries and other failure points are gradually reduced.

Organisations can achieve higher productivity and create interactions that are of real value to customers;  leading to better reputation, a reduction in  operational headcount and an increase in potential revenue.

 

Enhanced customer experience

Ultimately, by giving customers efficient digital channels, fast resolutions, and personalised interactions at every step of the journey, the experience of dealing with your organisation becomes effortless, impactful, and worth talking about, attracting more customers and boosting business.  

 

Engaged people and talent

Creating awareness of the customer journey allows colleagues to see the value in their role and how their interactions fit the overall experience, increasing engagement and driving a continuous improvement mindset. This cultural shift results in less attrition and helps attract new talent to the organisation. 

 

More protection for customer and business 

Customer-led transformation can enhance debt management or financial support services during inflation and job insecurity, making firms trusted partners to customers. It can also help prevent fraud and other economic crimes since many aspects of transformation require a re-visiting of data security practices and systems.  

  

In striving to achieve these outcomes, what pitfalls can firms expect to face along the way? 


Friction in the transformation process

In our experience, many transformation initiatives appear to be sensible, well thought out, and rigorously planned, but they often fail to deliver the total value that stakeholders anticipated at the outset, and sometimes have negative impacts on other parts of the business and customer experience. 

 

Lack of an end-to-end view

Transformation programmes often focus on individual segments of the customer journey. For example, an insurance firm might hone in on transforming the underwriting process rather than the entire policy renewal process. This approach often fails to impact the customer as it neglects to improve all other steps in the journey. 

 

Not truly understanding the customer

Many enterprises fail to understand customer emotions because they map journeys based on their interactions rather than from a customer’s perspective. In our experience, the absence of end-to-end data systems holds organisations back even further, preventing them from joining the dots across the journey and seeing the first-hand customer experience.  

 

Failing to take a holistic approach

The actual cost of transformation can be significantly greater when organisations focus on single-point solutions that fail to take a broader, enterprise-level approach. For instance,  the automation of a mortgage decision/underwriting process should be one of a number of changes driven by a holistic design that looks at the overall experience of  the customer looking to move home (or at the very least looking for credit). Too often, these instances are single point solutions which do not link with a broader strategy. 

Transformation friction in the fraud customer journey

Along with these fallbacks, the financial services industry faces transformation barriers in many existing processes. Take fraud, for example. Identifying and verifying a genuine fraud case can often be lengthy and complex due to the numerous necessary steps required to manage risk and protect the customer. On one level, this friction is intentional and designed to identify potential fraudsters. But, on the other hand, it results in a fragmented process that adds to customer frustration and anxiety.    

 

In some of these cases, we’ve seen clients with up to 16 different security checks in one fraud customer journey. We’ve also seen dramatic differences in the language used by firms across their various communication channels, which can be confusing for customers and prevent fast and effortless resolutions. In both examples, the end-to-end journey was inefficient, and customers poorly rated the experience, despite the firms’ heavy investment into transformation. 

 

So how can firms approach a holistic transformation process that covers the entire customer journey, end-to-end, and functions successfully with a deep understanding of customer needs? 

Implementing end-to-end customer journey transformation

In our experience, there are four core elements to a successful customer-led transformation. 

 

Visualise the journey from the customer’s point of view

Take into account various customer personas, and focus on effort, failure points, actions, and emotions. Managing the customer journey is about creating insight and monitoring changes in customer behaviour to drive continuous data-led improvement, high performance, and positive customer experiences. 

 

Bring all parties together

All departments should play a part in the transformation and collaborate to create a customer-centric culture that harnesses the value of human capability. It’s all about ensuring that teams can complement one another’s abilities and employees are equipped with the skills, knowledge, and empowerment to do the right thing.  

 

Challenge the real need of the customer

When thinking of a mortgage, where does the customer journey start? Likely from the moment they consider moving house, not only when searching for financing. Recognising this means potentially including other actors outside of the organisation and then involving everyone in supporting that customer journey internally. 

 

Leverage data, insight, and supportive technology

Supportive technology can enable firms to harness new capabilities, create a seamless transition between solutions, optimise adoption through behavioural science, better predict consumer behaviour changes, and drive continuous improvement. In addition, the valuable data and insight gained from the right technology can allow proactive actions in response to customer behaviour and needs. 


Quality is free

In 1979, author and management theory contributor Phillip Crosby explored the concept thatquality is free, surmising an investment in the right place to get things right first time, is always preferable to being exposed to the higher costs of fixing issues as they arise.   

 

In making the business case for customer journey-led transformation, financial services firms can develop great customer experiences while unlocking a wide range of benefits across the organisation –  in other words, by applying the idea that “quality is free”, you could say that “great customer experience is free”.  

 

How’s that for a business case?


At Webhelp, we are primed to support you with any transformation plans you may have.

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

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Hervé Mazenod

Managing Director, Financial Services

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Webhelp Anywhere - Web banner

Customer experience innovation set to undergo exponential growth in the next decade, research finds

Webhelp Anywhere - Web banner

Paris, France – 10th March 2022 – Customer contact center operations are set to undergo transformation to improve customer experience (CX) delivery, finds new research from Frost & Sullivan. Commissioned by Webhelp, the study of over 1,000 senior customer experience management professionals finds organizations are embracing technology and new ways of working to deliver improved customer service, with 98% planning to transform operations within 24 months. 

The study finds almost one in two senior CX professionals expect to see a rise in new customer channels supported by technology such as voice assistants and AR services in the next decade. Much of this change has been accelerated in the last couple of years by the Covid-19 pandemic; 90% expect working from home to be a permanent part of CX delivery models in the future, and 78% expect advisors to have the ability to determine where they want to work. 

In remote environments operational challenges have remained, and the research reveals engaging and motivating employees is seen as the most pressing, closely followed by keeping up with the latest contact center technology and deploying it at scale.  

“The study has provided fascinating insight on the future direction of customer experience delivery,” commented Alexander Michael, Director of Consulting at Frost & Sullivan. “As the industry continues to undergo rapid transformation, it’s pleasing to see that brands plan to embed work from home as a permanent part of their model. Those that recognize that this needs to be designed in properly, in a sustainable manner, will see true benefits for their business and their customers.” 

A bespoke approach to quality customer journey delivery 

Contact center management expects onshore, nearshore and offshore contact centers to grow in the future – showcasing the need for a tailored approach across different businesses to maximize quality delivery. Companies choosing to improve customer experience may need to adapt the approach, while ensuring the security of customer data, access to talent, the resilience of operation and cost base.  

“CX transformation must start with the needs of the customer and strategy of the business,” commented Olivier Duha, CEO and Co-founder of Webhelp. “Once agreed, it’s important to think holistically about how an operation is designed to meet those needs. This model should embrace the most suitable delivery format, considering how onshore, nearshore and offshore locations can be combined with working models such as onsite, at-home, or hybrid work. The world we live in today means we can host a customer support location for anywhere in the world and scale it rapidly.” 

The research indicates that any customer experience management approach must address operational challenges of the future, around managing employee attrition, integrating disparate channels and systems, managing compliance, and engaging and motivating employees (all areas estimated by one in two to be more challenging in the future). 

The future 

Respondents that have engaged in transformation projects are seeing benefits, with positive impacts identified on the security of data/customers (77%), customer experience (78%), access to talent (76%), the resilience of operations (77%), and cost base (77%). 

“Our research shows us that 99% of customer experience leaders are focused on being able to quickly scale operations to meet customer demand,” explains Matthieu Bouin, Group Managing Director at Webhelp. “To achieve this, you need two things. Firstly, you need to design your operation with this in mind. Secondly, you need the right tech platform that can adapt, scale, and flex in response to the increasingly rapid changes in consumer behavior.” 

-ENDS- 

Notes to editors 

Webhelp Anywhere

  • Full research is available on request 
  • Study was conducted December 2021 across Europe, US and Asia, surveying customer experience leaders 

 

About Webhelp 

Webhelpdesigns, 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 andGroupe Bruxelles Lambert(Euronext: GBLB), a leading global investment holding, as of November 2019. 

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Webhelp Celebrates International Women's Day 2022 - #BreakTheBias

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the progress made towards achieving gender equality, equity and empowerment.

It is also a time to critically reflect on those accomplishments and strive for a greater momentum towards more gender balance worldwide. It is a day to stand together as a united force – because a better world is a more balanced world.

#BreakTheBias – We are so much more than one can see!

Imagine a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge gender equality.

Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can break the bias in our communities, workplaces, schools, colleges, and universities.

Together, we can all break the bias – not just on International Women’s Day (IWD), but all year round.​

Women in Webhelp

Advancing gender balance within Webhelp is our next major program on the ESG More For People agenda, after Impact Sourcing.

Today, we stand at about ~56% of women in Webhelp (59% in the advisor roles and 46% in the non-advisors’ roles). However, when we look at senior roles, there is still room for improvement: ~39% of our management top 500 for instance.

In the coming months, we will organize dedicated workshops and leverage our annual YourCall colleague survey to get feedback and advance the work within our organization. There will also be quick-win guides to help us all on this journey.

With our extensive community, we will continue to be inspired by the initiatives already in place regionally, “Supporting Women in Leadership” in Webhelp’s UK Region and “She Leads” in Webhelp Americas, for example.

Learn more about Webhelp initiatives

ESG - #MoreForPeople
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Webhelp to host Think Tank discussion at MoneyLive Summit 2022

We are delighted to confirm we are hosting a Think Tank discussion at this year’s MoneyLive Summit on 28th – 29th March, taking place in London.  

This highly anticipated event is an invaluable platform to collaborate, challenge, and uncover future innovation in the financial services sector, welcoming established industry leaders and exciting fintechs for two days of networking, insights and discussion.  

Topics include women in finance, leaders of tomorrow and the hottest trends in the banking world for 2022 to name a few.  

 

Representing Webhelp are Brandon Aitken, Director of Global Business Development, and Hervé Mazenod, Managing Director of Financial Services, Gobeyond Partners (part of the Webhelp group), who will explore the business case for customer journey-led transformation.  

Brandon and Hervé will be joined by keynote speaker Matthew Harwood, Head of Customer Messaging, at NatWest.  Matthew is also the Senior Product Owner and a member of the Digital Leadership team where he delivers bank-wide transformation to reimagine how NatWest communicates with its customers. 

 

Commenting on the event Brandon said:  

 “We’re looking forward to sharing our experience in working with clients to support their customer journey-led transformation and to welcoming Matthew to give a NatWest perspective – it promises to be an informative session.” 

Hervé continues:    

“In a market that is more demanding now than ever, FS firms need to think differently about transformation. Our Think Tank will encourage debate around how the sector can keep up with evolving requirements and trends to pave the way for success in 2022 and beyond.”  

 

Keep an eye out for first-hand highlights and key takeaways from our Think Tank discussion.  

For more information on financial services trends read Hervé Mazenod’s latest thought leadership piece here.  


Contact Centre Data: A business game-changing report

The growth in the availability of data, and in organisations’ ability to interpret and create value from it, is one of the major challenges, and opportunities, faced in modern business.

Webhelp have been working in partnership with the Contact Centre Management Association (CCMA) to look at this, to better understand the world of data and how it can positively impact upon the customer and operational experience.

The result of this partnership is the publication of our report that looks at some of the ways in which data is changing the game for contact centres. We provide examples of the value created, as well as strategies for building capability. We also highlight the main challenges to be overcome.

The report features insights from a series of contact centre leaders from various sectors, all of whom have successfully deployed innovative and successful data strategies into their operations.  The list of contributors includes, amongst others, Anita Yandell-Jones, Director of Service and Operations at Ecotricity, Nick Williams, Gousto’s Director of Customer Care and Joseph Vassie, Head of Insights and Analytics from ASOS.

The report also features a foreword from Chris Bryson, Managing Director of Global Analytics at Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, alongside Chris’s six ways in which data is changing the game for contact centres

To download the report on the six ways in which data is changing the game for contact centres please click the link. https://www.ccma.org.uk/contact-centre-data-a-business-game-changer/

 

 


Wholesale Is Not Dead: the podcast that gets real fashion pros talking

Dedicated to fashion pros, as a strategy consulting agency Mars Branding Agency stands out for its originality. It produces the podcast Wholesale Is Not Dead (WIND), well known to young designers, brands, shops and wholesale specialists. The agency was founded by Julie Le Gall and Florent Tamisier: in an interview with Aline Abeya, Sales Manager France and Benelux at Webhelp Payment Services, they share their vision of the market.

 

What services does Mars Branding Agency offer?

Julie Le Gall: Our business strategy and communication consulting agency was founded in March 2020 – hence our name. [In French ‘mars’ means both March and Mars] We offer fashion brands solutions for managing distribution, communication and digital strategy issues.

Florent Tamisier: We support or manage projects, using support formats that range from individual coaching to implementation: community management, press relations, influence marketing, content creation (video, audio and photo), sales, and the development of a distribution and agent network in France and the rest of Europe, etc.

How long have you been working together? How does your individual experience complement that of the other?

Florent Tamisier: We worked together a few years ago in a subsidiary of the Eram group. I was the export sales director, in charge of around fifteen agents and fifteen distributors, with an export turnover of around €10 million. Julie was in marketing: the resulting synergy made us want to try our own wings, so we created Mars Branding.

Julie Le Gall: Among the footwear brands we had in our portfolio were Les Tropéziennes, which have already proved very successful in France and the rest of Europe. I worked there for six years as director of communications and marketing.
Florent and I had the pleasure of being part of this beautiful French brand’s revival, which in 2015 changed from wholesale to omni-channel. And this move to digital has worked really well, even at an international level. This explains our desire to support other brands who are eager to move from wholesale to digital, or simply to develop their business.

Regarding the Les Tropéziennes brand, what lessons have your learnt from its successful transition to digital?

Florent Tamisier: The general principle you would hear repeated until then in the fashion business was: “you must first have a presence on the digital market and, when the brand is strong enough, sell your product in stores”. But we have shown that this is not the case: thanks to the network that existed across the country, with a very strong brand on the ground, digital took off very quickly.

Julie Le Gall: In fact, it’s a very profitable strategy to start with wholesale on the ground, before switching to digital, with retailers bearing the costs involved. The Les Tropeziennes brand has become a textbook case!

What types of support do you offer young fashion designers?

Julie Le Gall: With our Coaching offer, we support many young designers and project leaders in the product, marketing and communication areas. They are right at the start of their brand development careers and are responsible for promoting very specific products and values. Often they manufacture in France and develop their products in a very competitive environment.
Essentially we advise them on brand and distribution strategies in the French leather goods, textile design, footwear and jewellery sectors.

Florent Tamisier: These young designers have many very specific questions: should I look to wholesale, and how do I go about it? Do I need to set up a store and in what form? Do I need to promote my product, my brand, or both? Is this the right time to promote my product on a particular channel? etc.
During support sessions lasting a few hours, which we make readily accessible, we share our expertise with them, based on our professional experience, our networks, and the exclusive contacts we have with highly experienced, specialised professionals.

And what is it you do for those brands?

Julie Le Gall: Brands have reached a stage of development where they are concerned with production and the regular promotion of their collections, and they often have a distribution network. Some are wholly digital and we can support them from the wholesale perspective, for example. With advice on marketing and business development.
Similarly we can support brands that already operate on a full wholesale basis and want to move to digital. In this case, our efforts focus on communication, marketing and e-commerce site development.

Leading fashion pros are interviewed in your highly successful “Wholesale Is Not Dead” podcast. What is the idea behind this?

Florent Tamisier: The idea came from a particular observation. We provide a lot of courses in incubators and support structures. For this audience, characterised by a particular desire for the sharing of professional experience, we have created a podcast format. This enables our students to follow an in-depth conversation, between highly experienced professionals… something hard to come by elsewhere!
In as little as 40 minutes, our students feel they are entering the real world of professionals, which perfectly complements the theory they are learning.
And it goes without saying that there are very different types of content: declarations of love for our profession, seldom heard truths, analyses or very specific advice… trade secrets often come at the end of the interview.
As a result of the very positive feedback from students we wanted to broadcast these podcasts to a wider audience. That’s why we created a series with the catchphrase Wholesale Is Not Dead (WIND), dedicated to developing the fashion industry at the physical point of sale.

Julie Le Gall: We have now published approaching 90 podcasts. These can be found on our website but also on all listening platforms such as iTunes podcast, Deezer, Spotify, Amazon and Google.
To give an example that will interest young designers, there is the podcast by Sophie Baron, from the Pom boutique in Marseille.
In terms of shops, retailers and independent stores, we have often heard mention of a sense of isolation. These professionals often work alone, or in very small teams. This a place where they can immerse themselves in a relevant live medium that “speaks” to them just where they are. It is also a very rich source of inspiration and motivation.

Why this name Wholesale Is Not Dead ? I must admit that it caught my attention the first time I saw it… and I share your analysis: there’s a vast Wholesale ecosystem out there and it is alive and well!

Florent Tamisier: Our in-depth knowledge of wholesale is precisely one of the things that makes our agency stand out from the rest. When we started two years ago, at the beginning of the first lockdown, we focused on digital. This was also in keeping with a global shift in the sector towards digital. So there was a lot of help that this channel had to offer.
With the closing down of shops and stores, some observers have claimed that wholesale is part of the “old model”. Especially since in-store sales had already been decreasing since around 2007. As for “100% retail”, which has been in vogue, we can also say that this has harmed Wholesale.
However, it seemed to us that this disaffection was a mistake: some companies make considerable profits from wholesale. This distribution channel also offers huge opportunities.
That’s why we decided to sing the praises of this market… taking the form of wholesale recommendations: do not make the mistakes of the past when it comes to either buying or selling, when touring with your product or in the management of your margins, for example.

Julie Le Gall: I would add that the most beautiful European shops are independent multibrands: they have a lot of soul and provide real value. Today, they are a great way to support product design and young designers.

How did Mars Branding and Webhelp Payment Services meet?

Julie Le Gall: We are very active on the market, we try to meet as many people and market players as possible. This curiosity resulted in our attending conferences on all sorts of subjects. A few months ago, a conference organised by Webhelp Payment Services caught our attention at Who’s Next: it was one of the few to talk about wholesale!

Florent Tamisier: It was also one of the few conferences that addressed the issues of sales, distribution and payments. Yet these are essential matters! We got together at once and then decided to talk regularly about the area of distribution in fashion, a subject that tends to go under the radar. And what we find is that this subject is now bringing more and more people together…

Is there an awareness of payment services in the fashion industry? What are the needs?

Florent Tamisier: Some ways of doing business, such as Cash & Carry, are changing. Cash & Carry used to be based on a simple principle: the absence of a payment deadline. But some market players are starting to look for greater flexibility and are turning to a provider like Webhelp Payment Services.
In more general terms, I would like to have known sooner about all the payment services that are available today!
I could have recommended them to market players in the sector who were faced with payment collection and document verification problems, and with a need to know the financial health of a particular market player… or knowledge of the market in general, including exports.

Julie Le Gall: What is important to us is that the wholesale community involved in the fashion industry continues to grow and develop its skills. We look forward to continuing to contribute to this with our podcasts!

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Webhelp opens its doors to sustainable, refurbished Sheffield site

We’re delighted to unveil the exciting transformation of our Sheffield office, having invested in a series of green initiatives along the way. 

The 72,000 sq.ft Nunnery Square site, located opposite the Hope Street conference centre, has been refurbished to include a number of sustainable facilities which has seen it gain ISO Energy Management Certification.  

Re-using over 75 tonnes of assets which has saved close to 500 tonnes of carbon, the overhauled building has natural as opposed to carbon-intensive mechanical ventilation. Other features include LED technology which will see the business use up to 50% less energy, as well as waterless technology saving up to 2.3million litres of water each year. 

Commenting on the refurbishment, Richard Carr, Head of Property, Environment and H&S at Webhelp said:  

“The Covid pandemic has led many businesses to re-evaluate what their people need. Webhelp’s vision for Nunnery Square has always been to create a more sustainable building and we’re delighted that our new infrastructure has not only created an aspirational place for our people to work, but that it also supports the UK’s drive to Net Zero. Webhelp’s Global ESG strategy is dedicated to creating more inclusive and sustainable growth and we believe that as corporate citizens, we can do more for the planet and future generations by reducing our carbon footprint.” 

We set about the extensive refurbishment in August 2021, with Doc Designs Ltd, L&P Projects Ltd and Carey Contracts Ltd. A spokesperson for Carey Contracts said: 

“Carey Contracts Ltd were delighted to be selected by Webhelp as their fit out partner for the Nunnery Square refurbishment project. Working close with Webhelp’s Facilities team we have created a new innovative and sustainable workplace for everyone to enjoy.” 

Further plans for our Nunnery Square site include the installation of charging points for electric vehicles, solar panels and a micro forest. 

As a result of ongoing growth, we have a number of new roles at our Sheffield base. If you’re interested in finding out more, we’re hosting an Open Evening for Sales Advisers on 24th February from 5pm. More information on all roles available can be found at  https://jobs.webhelp.com/careers/