Africa

Webhelp: Setting the agenda for BPO CX in Africa

Africa: A continent of near-limitless opportunity for a range of customer experience outsourcing services – but without an informed market entry and execution strategy, a place where global brands can severely damage their reputation.  

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As the pandemic disrupts established offshoring locations in Asia Pacific, global brands are assessing and ramping up alternative offshore sourcing locations within AfricaThe C-suite recognize that the continent offers a clear route to maximizing business continuity and minimizing risk, while systematically reducing operational costs, and achieving a more balanced distribution of customer engagements associated with high quality outcomes.  

We have understood the opportunities well – having grown from a single market entry position on the continent in Morocco, to the current team of over 25,000 people working across seven African countries, serving both English and French language needs, providing CX management services in multiple industries, including automotive, e-commerce, FMCG, retail, airlines and oil and gas. We also continue to learn from these extensive engagements – using insights to optimise market entry strategies.

Webhelp is now one of the biggest customer experience management firms within Africa, but it has taken us 20 years, and a deep level of understanding of all the specific and different nuances associated with each and every country in which we operate in Africa today.  

 As the second largest continent in the world, Africa is home to over 1.2 billion people and makes up 20% of the earth’s surface. It’s home to extreme wealth, obscene poverty, and everything in between – with widely varying levels of political stability and infrastructure availability. It’s vital that brands which are now considering adding Africa to their sourcing portfolio’s view the continent as a long-term, integral part of their business strategy. Most multi-nationals recognize that while critical, the actual delivery of customer experience management is not their core business, and they need support with creating and implementing human experiences in a digital world. In our experience, brands must also balance responsible business, leveraged opportunities, and risks, in order to succeed within Africa.

Responsible Business

Within Africa, young people account for 60% of those who are unemployed, according to the World Bank. Areas hit hardest included Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, and South Africa. As a leading global CX services provider in Africa, with an extensive global footprint, we recognize that we’re uniquely placed to offer employment opportunities and to tackle the social divides resulting from  these high levels of unemployment. So, we’ve created a bespoke and scalable Impact Sourcing Model for unemployed youth, to deliver social reform systematically through all our CX outsourcing work in Egypt, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Morocco, Senegal, and South Africa.

Young African man

In South Africa for example, we work in partnership with Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator – a world-renowned not-for-profit social enterprise – as well as multiple governments and customers, using a model for inclusive youth hiring at scale. Through all our contracts, we provide  formal work readiness training, including, jobs, and professional call centre qualifications, to young people aged 18-35 who are at risk of long-term unemployment and economic exclusion.  In addition, we provide bespoke programmes designed to maximize understanding of the sectors in which our clients operate, such as retail. This approach accelerates time to competence, and we are seeing young people thrive in their careers with Webhelp. We are also seeing remarkable outcomes being delivered for our clients’ customers.

So far, in partnership with Harambee, we have supported hundreds of excluded and unemployed young people into career opportunities with Webhelp, either through jobs, or work placements, and we have a firm commitment to increase numbers every year.

Having said that, as a business striving to deliver world class customer experience outcomes, we know that we can’t enter new countries with a ‘cookie cutter’ approach. We were one of the first companies to work directly with our customers in customizing and configuring our Impact Sourcing methods to meet the specific needs and objectives of their businesses.

In terms of talent management, Webhelp South Africa has also partnered with the University of Stellenbosch Business School to launch a leadership diversity programme. By combining formal education with career experience, we can create an equitable pipeline of skilled and talented future leaders. Social value aside, I cannot overstate that we won’t work anywhere in the world without first fulfilling our responsibility to carry out extensive due diligence on countries which we, or our clients, are considering as a place for new business or offshore expansion. 

Our expert team rigorously scrutinize each and every country’s standards in terms of political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal (PESTLE) criteria. We use this insight, alongside guidance from the UN, World Bank, and World Health Organisation to ‘score’ each country under consideration for new business. We then deploy a team of subject matter experts who spend time in the country surveying the local labour markets, salary levels and recruitment, before getting all our insights validated by teams of people based within the target country.  

Only when evidence shows that a country meets our high standards on ethics, compliance, and operations, will we consider designing the best way for us and our clients to work there.

Opportunities

With 60% of the population aged under 25, Africa is set to have the biggest number of consumers globally – backed by steadily increasing education levels, improving infrastructure, and a dynamic start-up business culture. Soon, brands will have access to an abundance of highly motivated and skilled people, who due to their emerging global status as consumers, have a unique understanding of the importance of CX.

Young African muslim lady

Not only that, but right now, brands considering investment in Africa can benefit from a myriad of funding opportunities. Many governments across the continent award significant grants to firms which can deliver positive social outcomes – which is one of the reasons why South Africa has been voted the most favoured offshore CX delivery location by Ryan Strategic Advisory. There is also significant funding available through organizations like the Rockefeller Foundation, and the World Trade Organization. 

We encourage competition in Africa because it drives performance. We’re not only looking to build our own business here – we’re looking to develop the whole CX industry in the regions in which we operate. As more and more brands commit to the continent as a key part of their go-to market strategy, we’re expecting to see second, third and fourth generation businesses open up opportunities for local suppliers to gain a foothold into the formal economy, driving economic growth. That means even more momentum on investment, and greater social value within African countries. 

Companies which thrive in Africa now will gain a huge competitive advantage in the long-term.  

Risk

But for every opportunity in Africa, there’s also a potential risk.  

While infrastructure is improving, it’s generally still behind more established offshoring locations, and standards vary widely between countries, so it’s smart to pre-empt potential challenges in terms of telephony and communications. Further, in a continent with historic issues relating to debt, brands may also need to be alert to, and navigate away from, potential corruption issues, as well as the potential mismanagement and misappropriation of African aid. 

It all means that Africa is not a go-to destination for any brands seeking a ‘quick win.’ Firms don’t scale here by luck – they succeed by designing and implementing robust operating models, due diligence and governance, appropriate sourcing, investment back into the available capabilities, and nurturing a pipeline of management talent.  

The operating model we use in Africa, and across the world, is Webhelp Anywhere – a system which enables clients to standardise excellence at any location in a way that’s bespoke to the needs of their business, with a focus on six key pillars – talent, engagement, performance, technology, security, and resilience. We also deploy specialist teams, comprising global and local talent, into new countries to support the set-up and establishment of new services, the combined effect brings assurance to this process. 

Finally, I’d urge any firms considering their operating model strategy, entry into new territories, and business operations, to talk to brands like Webhelp, which have already overcome these challenges and established a presence in a number of countries in Africa. Leaders can save a lot of hassle by getting advice on how and where to invest, avoid pitfalls, and fulfil social value in a country with infinite opportunity.  

About the author

Craig Gibson

Craig Gibson, grew up in South Africa, was educated at Durban Technikon in South Africa and helped to develop the first major contact centre BPO offshore model in South Africa – working across the US, Middle East, UK, Europe and Africa.

A business he started in South Africa was later acquired by Webhelp, which accelerated his work to bridge the social divide in communities in which the company makes investments with its clients, alongside delivering world-class outcomes for them.

Today Craig leads the Webhelp Group’s growth efforts, working with clients to address their customer management needs, he lives in London.

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Webhelp Appoints Co-CEO of Digital Content Services

Webhelp Appoints Paul Danter Co-CEO of Digital Content Services to Lead Expansion in the Americas

PARIS — October 5, 2021 — Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience (CX) and business solutions, has announced the appointment of Paul Danter as Co-Chief Executive Officer of Digital Content Services (DCS). In this new role jointly leading the global DCS practice alongside Chloe de Mont-Serrat, Paul will be responsible for developing Webhelp’s digital content services business to support U.S. clients with services, including content management and moderation, digital activation, and data annotation.

Webhelp’s growth strategy includes expanding its service offerings to support new and existing clients in the U.S., where many of the leading tech companies operate. These services are especially valuable for platform businesses that are responsible for millions of customers’ data and digital experiences.

A seasoned professional with experience in software development and digital services, Paul most recently served as the CEO of RWS Moravia, the fastest-growing company in translation and localization, where he worked with many of the largest technology companies in the world. Before Moravia, Paul worked in the converging areas of content and mobile, where he joined forces with technology leaders, media companies, publishers and broadcasters, as they evolved to support their digital audiences.

Paul shared why he’s excited to join Webhelp, “I first met the Webhelp management team a few years ago and was impressed with what they were building and how they were doing it. It was clear Webhelp’s enviable culture played a huge role in driving phenomenal growth and success. I could sense the company’s spark was driven by an exciting team and strong leadership, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.”

“Since then, I’ve worked with companies to provide seamless digital customer journeys and look forward to using this knowledge to drive truly transformational change for our clients. I am incredibly proud to be part of the Webhelp family and am excited to design and deliver unforgettable human experiences in today’s digital landscape.”

“I am very pleased to welcome Paul to the team and look forward to co-leading the digital content services business across the Webhelp group. His extensive knowledge and expertise in the digital space will no doubt play a pivotal role in accelerating the growth of the business and especially in the U.S.,” said Chloe de Mont-Serrat, Webhelp’s Co-CEO of Digital Content Services.

“I’m thrilled that Paul has joined the team during such an exciting period as we are expanding our reach in the U.S. and continue to strengthen our digital and technology-driven customer experience offering. Paul will also play a role in developing new areas of the business to expand our offering and capability. This is an exciting step for the DCS practice, and I am truly delighted to welcome Paul into the Webhelp family,” commented Sandrine Asseraf, Group Managing Director, Webhelp Americas.

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 90,000 passionate employees across more than 50 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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Disruption can and will happen: the importance of resilience by design

Anthony Sinclair, Director of Resilience & Property, and Yee-Ping Pang, Head of Design & Development, investigate how organisations can learn to not only accept the need to build resilience, but to embrace it as a way to achieve greater customer satisfaction.


Over the last 18 months, Covid-19 has taught us that disruption can come in many forms, and that just because it hasn’t happened yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Disruption has many faces, from restricted access to company spaces, to the impact of isolation on productivity. One important lesson for organisations to take away from the pandemic is this –  never underestimate the importance of resilience.

A PWC 2021 Global Crisis Survey reported that seven out of 10 organisations reported plans to increase their investment in building resilience. This can only be a positive that will contribute to more resilient businesses and provide minimal disruptions for customers.


What is resilience by design?

Resilience has traditionally been backloaded, in the form of Business continuity plans and recovery. Resilience by design shifts this focus to the forefront of product and service design, and ensures that resilience is considered part of the entire change life cycle.

Using a Resilience by design model applies to everything a business does – from designing, delivering and maintaining a new telephony platform, to sourcing a new office location.


The resilience by design model

There are three key pillars that support Resilience by Design – Organisational Resilience, Cyber Resilience, and Infrastructure Resilience.

Organisational Resilience

The business can react to change from a people capability, and from a governance and agility perspective

Cyber Resilience

The business can proactively defend and react to cyber attacks

Infrastructure Resilience

The business has the ability to navigate and protect against external threats

 

All three pillars must be resilient to keep a business running effectively, delivering reliable products or services that don’t impact on the customer experience. In a world where digital transformation has been accelerated as a consequence of COVID-19, all three of these key pillars of resilience by design have been put to the test.

Questions such as ‘How can we ensure our colleagues can work from home?’ and ‘Do we have enough network capacity to enable everyone to do their roles from home’ are examples aligned to one of the resilience by design pillars, and no doubt have been asked by multiple people across different organisations.

The most resilient businesses have a lens on resilience across the entirety of their organisation, through the operating principles of resilience. The controls that are embedded in these businesses start from anticipation of potential threats and disruptions, to designing robust playbooks to react to scenarios, all the way to recovering if something does go wrong. The culture in these businesses is one of continuous observation, refinement and improvement on these controls, to ensure they are operationally resilient and work in practice, not just in theory.

Resilience by Design cannot be static – there are constant evolutions needed to adapt to changes in the environment, both internal and external. At the centre of it all is the willingness to adapt, and this starts with the recognition within your business of resilience as a key strategic initiative.


Conclusion

Disruption is an inevitability in everything we do – in this regard, the impact of the pandemic has simply shone a light on the importance of resilience. Although not many businesses would have ever anticipated such a large scale disruption, those who are able to adapt and learn from this to embed a culture of resilience by design will most successfully be able to support their clients and customers. Resilience should no longer be seen as simply a bolt on at the final stages, or as a Business Continuity Plan (BCP), but as a key cornerstone in the design of operating models and solutions across all businesses.

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Mode paiement

[Fashion] - 4 tips to make payments easier and more secure in Europe and the US

Mode paiement

For fashion brands, the European and United States markets are strategically very important. But there are some risks when it comes to payments, especially with department stores and e-commerce sites. Anke Glaser, General Manager of Webhelp Payment Services for Central Europe, offers some advice.

1. Fashion brands should make the most of the momentum driven by departments stores and e-commerce sites

Over the last 2 or 3 years – and especially since the health crisis – online sales have really flourished in the fashion industry, both in Europe and in the United States. This growth is mainly due to department stores, which already have a digital strategy, and e-commerce platforms.
This trend is explained by companies investing more and more in digital technology generally – in England, spending on websites and online sales platforms went up by 30% in one year. In the United States, department stores can account for up to 70% of suppliers’ turnover. We can also see this trend in Spain where the leading Spanish department store has made its digital development a major focus in its development strategy.
We therefore recommend taking full advantage of this momentum, driven by departments stores and e-commerce sites, because we think it’s one that is going to last!
However, while digital strategies are undeniably seeing a surge, we remain convinced that the physical component is still vital, and that the crisis will lead to an offering that combines human and digital solutions.

2. Protect yourself against the problem of deductions

Brands have to comply with the conditions imposed by department stores and e-commerce platforms, which generally have very strict rules, at the risk of having to deal with chargebacks. In practice, whichever country you’re in, department stores and platforms rarely make a payment for just one invoice. Usually, they send us a payment advice: a document summarising all the invoices to be paid. Added to these are debit notes or chargebacks that are deducted from the payments. For a brand, it is important to be aware that these practices, which can be for many different reasons, are widespread.
Webhelp Payment Services manages debit notes directly for department stores and platforms. We check them, as agreed with the brand, and if the deductions are not totally justified, we dispute them with the department store or the platform. Our regular contact with the stores and platforms means that we can speed up the processes and so resolve any disputes faster.
Every year, this work by our experts, dedicated exclusively to managing these key accounts, helps our clients’ brands recover substantial amounts of money, as well as giving them a clear overview of the buyer’s current situation.
The benefit: if the Order to Cash process is under control, those involved in distribution generally pay on time.

3. Know how to manage the complexity of accounting documents for department stores and e-commerce platforms and avoid mistakes

Each season, brands receive documents with a lot of items to reconcile, from department stores and platforms. This involves a considerable amount of work for their accountants!
We have developed a specific reconciliation and comparison tool for documents that come from department stores and platforms. It makes the accounts much easier to understand, and means we can analyse the source of chargebacks.
Our dedicated customer platform allows clients to find all the information and all the payments in one place. It is here, for example, that any deductions will be clearly shown. This document provides a good basis for the interaction between us, the brand, and the department store or e-commerce platform.

4. Digitise your data exchanges

The relationship between department stores, platforms, and sellers is also going digital. Implementing this digital process is really useful when it comes to optimising your cash flow with these different stakeholders. Indeed, in addition to the speed of transmission via EDI, it also means that you can check to make sure that invoices have been received, and act promptly if the invoice is rejected or incomplete. This means we can reduce delays to invoice payments, but also lots of chargebacks that might not be due.
We are currently working on setting up EDI with the many department stores and e-platforms so that we can offer our clients simple, unique access, whilst also relieving them of the technical work specific to each buyer. Why not take advantage of it?

 

With 35 years of experience in fashion and luxury, Webhelp Payment Services can be both a personal advisor and a facilitator, not only for department stores and e-commerce platforms, but also for retail distribution. We are currently working with 400 ready-to-wear brands with a network of 35,000 stores in Europe and the United States.

To find out more about this topic

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Polyglot translation AI improves CX and optimizes performance

Webhelp’s proprietary machine translation solution equips advisors to deliver high-quality CX with up to +35 NPS improvement and up to 50% optimized performance

Webhelp continues to develop its proprietary technology platform with the recent addition of AI-fueled, people-powered translation technology. Polyglot empowers advisors to deliver high-quality messages in the customer’s native language.

Polyglot is supported by a hub of language experts who verify complex responses to guarantee quality and consistency. Over time, the AI engine continuously improves by adopting the client’s industry and business vocabulary while learning from feedback from our experts. Thanks to this human-tech combination, customers receive almost instant, relevant responses through chat, email, and social media channels.

As technology enablement is a strategic priority for Webhelp, solutions like Polyglot are essential to delivering high-quality CX at scale. Polyglot’s AI removes pressure on multilingual teammates, freeing up time to focus on actions that deliver value to customers and ensure the best talent is available when needed.

Polyglot has been integrated into existing operations to support numerous prominent Webhelp clients. Showing an average of +35 NPS enhancement in their multilingual customer experience, with an average 76% first-time response improvement that also delivers cost savings.

Emmanuel Saubat-Lalanne, Webhelp Group Technology Solutions Manager said:

“Whether a brand is looking to scale into new markets or increase customer support for rare and long-tail languages, maintaining quality CX in the customers’ native language will be key to sustaining growth. While supporting this key quality, Polyglot boosts productivity and supports quick service as a standard. Our integrated dashboards ensure our clients have oversight on their multilingual communication and efficient management across the business. By optimizing channels and resources, we’ve even seen that this smooth and consistent system helps manage absenteeism and attrition.” 

Polyglot was developed to facilitate high-quality multilingual interactions by supporting Webhelpers with market-leading translation engines and machine-learning algorithms.

Delivering average efficiency savings of 50%, Polyglot gives advisors more time to focus on value-added work for customers, leading to a higher-quality customer and employee experience.

To read more about how Polyglot can be integrated into omnichannel operations to deliver a consistent, multilingual customer experience at scale, head to the page on our website.

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

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

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

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


Webhelp Oneshot Technology CX

Discover the 7th edition of our OneShot magazine on Technology

Our 7th edition of the OneShot is here!

Download your OneShot Magazine

Webhelp Oneshot Technology Customer Experience Relation

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

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

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

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

What are the conditions for successful technology integration?

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

Summary

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

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Everest

Webhelp named a global CX leader by Everest Group

Webhelp Recognized as a Global Leader in Customer Experience by Analyst Everest Group for a Third Consecutive Year 

Paris  – 29th July, 2021

Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience (CX) and business solutions, has been recognized again as a Leader in Everest Group’s 2021 Customer Experience Management (CXM) PEAK Matrix® Assessment. The organization ranked strongly in terms of completeness of vision and capability, making significant progress in market impact.

Webhelp is a global leading CXM provider with particular strength in Europe, which has recently been bolstered by acquisitions in Latin America,” said David Rickard, Vice President Everest Group. “Webhelp has also continued recent strong growth by investing in its Webhelp Anywhere platform and methodology to support virtual operations and provide tools for talent and workforce management, as well as enhanced security capabilities such as biometric recognition. Through its stand-alone global consulting business, Gobeyond Partners, it also supports clients through the entire customer journey from strategy, journey orchestration, and AI-led text analytics, which are all areas of high demand from enterprises looking to deliver digital CX transformation.”

Webhelp scored top marks from Everest Group for value delivered and vision and strategy. Client interview feedback also cited Webhelp’s adaptability, proactivity, employee orientation, ease-of-doing-business and cultural alignment as a few of its key strengths.

Everest peak matrix

The report validates the significant growth Webhelp has made during the past year by focusing on developing its digital transformation capabilities and CX consulting to create value-driven end-to-end customer journeys.

Following the acquisition of Dynamicall and the more recently announced intent to acquire OneLink, the company has significantly expanded operations to support clients in particularly the United States and Latin America, and European markets, further strengthening its geographical footprint and technology capabilities.

Everest Group notes Webhelp’s proprietary methodology and platform, Webhelp Anywhere, which combines best-shoring with remote, hybrid, onsite operations, and tech-enabled capabilities to deliver flexible and tailored solutions.

Also highlighted was Webhelp’s designated program to support customer experience for start-ups and scale-ups, The Nest by Webhelp.

Everest Group notes Webhelp’s continued success after three consecutive years ranking as a Leader in its PEAK Matrix® Assessment, as well as a Leader in its CXM in EMEA Services PEAK Matrix®.

Everest Group’s CXM Services PEAK Matrix® is an annual report combining an assessment of the changing global CX landscape with evaluations of leading CX organizations. It selected 39 organizations to evaluate and compare in this year’s report based on the service provider’s market success, vision and strategy, service focus and capabilities, digital and technological solutions, domain investments, and client feedback.

Olivier Duha, CEO and Co-Founder of Webhelp, said:

As a global company committed to delivering game-changing customer journeys for our clients, we’re very proud to receive this recognition from Everest Group. We’ve focused heavily on supporting our clients, their customers, and our own people through this challenging period, and I am delighted that this commitment has delivered growth. As we invest further in regions like the U.S., Central and Latin America, and Asia Pacific, as well as capabilities like digital transformation and consulting, we are well positioned to deliver increasing value to the market.”

Download a custom version of the report here.
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Missing the customer: why human-centred design is key in delivering regulatory outcomes

Yee-Ping Pang, Head of Design and Development, and Faye Sadler-Clark, Head of Risk, Compliance & Innovation, explain the benefits of placing the customer experience at the centre of your regulatory outcomes

In every industry, it’s a certainty that one regulatory body will supervise the market – the FCA for financial services firms and financial markets, Ofcom for communications, and Ofgem for Gas and Electricity, to name a few. Independent regulatory bodies supervise the specific industry which they regulate and protect the consumer whilst ensuring that the market is operating fairly. The FCA for example, summarises that:

“Financial markets need to be honest, fair and effective so that consumers get a fair deal.”

The regulatory outcomes sought naturally differ across regulators, driven by the maturity of the industry and specific areas that need additional focus. However, there are similarities across some key topics such as protecting vulnerable customers, operational resilience of firms (the ability to continue to provide important business services throughout shocks or disruptions) and making switching easier for customers. The customer is very clearly at the centre of each of these areas of common regulatory concern.

As consumer consumption patterns change and industries evolve, the regulators continue to develop new and make changes to existing regulation in order to stay ahead of any changes in the industry alongside addressing the key risks in each sector. An example of new regulation is the much debated proposed Online Safety Bill, which is centred on protecting children and vulnerable individuals and applies to organisations that either host user-generated content or allow people to interact online. The landmark regulation seeks to protect users from ‘online harms’ in response to the ever-growing use of online platforms in generating and consuming content, which has increased rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

An example of regulatory change came during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, where the FCA confirmed an increase in contactless payment thresholds from £45 to £100, increasing the convenience for consumers to buy goods safely. Sheldon Mills, Executive Director, Consumers and Competition at the FCA said: ‘During the pandemic more people have been using contactless payments. We are changing our rules to help the industry continue to respond to the changing ways in which people prefer to pay.’ This showcases both how regulators adapt to changing trends, and the role that regulation can play in enhancing customer experience to have the best outcomes for customers.

What is human-centred design, and how is it currently being used?

Human-centred design is a common technique used by designers across all industries. At the crux of it is a focus on the people who will be using the product or service. These may be external or internal customers (colleagues) who are using services such as the IT Service desk.

Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods, the primary objective is to build understanding and deep empathy for the people for whom the product or service is being designed. Understanding customers’ thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, and defining the key themes from triangulation of all the research, is the foundation required to understand both what products and services to build, and how to build them. Pairing this with agile ways of working and iterative designs and feedback, we can see how powerful this is in adapting to constantly changing customer behaviours.

The benefits of design are compelling, with data from McKinsey showing that organisations regularly applying design thinking saw a third higher revenues and 56% higher shareholder returns than those who didn’t over a five-year period.

Human-centred design shifts the focus from designing solutions to solving problems and instils the mantra that the “customer is king”.

Source: McKinsey

Adding value by focusing on the customer for regulatory outcomes

So, what’s the common intersect between regulatory outcomes and human-centred design? Regulators are focused on protecting consumers and ensuring they get fair value, and human-centred design is entirely focused on designing for consumers. The consumer is at the heart of both.

For firms to stay ahead and really claim to be customer-first, they need to employ design approaches for their actual customer needs and circumstances, while ensuring that regulatory demands are still met.

Often, businesses view adhering to regulatory outcomes as something that must be done something that has a financial impact on their bottom line – and not as a value creator. Risk professionals need to help change the conversation from ‘what do we need to do to comply, and how much investment do we need for implementation?’ to ‘what is the intended regulatory outcome and what benefits could it bring us as a business?’ This change in mindset and conversation will put the focus on understanding why the market is shifting, which consumer problems need to be solved, and on the benefits that are often supportive in meeting strategic objectives on acquiring, retaining, and growing customer loyalty.

Focus on your customer needs to thrive

With COVID-19 recovery continuing to be the core focus for most businesses, strengthening capabilities in human-centred design, design thinking and user experience will be a key driver for growth, meeting customer needs and meeting regulatory outcomes.

In order to add real value, it’s important that risk and compliance teams continue to be inquisitive and understand the drivers behind regulatory change, and the movements within different markets and industries. Whilst organisations don’t have a choice about whether or not to comply with regulation using human centred design in responding to regulatory developments and changes can drive a competitive edge.

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Fashion Tech – Reshaping customer experience for your start up

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

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