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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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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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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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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The future of Risk

New shape, new face, new pace - the future of risk

Faye Sadler-Clark examines how Risk functions can shift from standing in the way of change, to leading the way.

Change is a given part of any business, with Transformation programmes allowing businesses to their offerings for customers. With so much change comes a need for organisations to adapt in order to deliver faster, and at a lower cost. However, functions such as Risk & Compliance are traditionally slower to adapt and often cannot keep up with the pace and skills required by the teams they are supporting – to the point where they come to be viewed as an obstacle to change, rather than working to facilitate it.

When organisations look to deliver cost savings, to work smarter, and to develop more agile ways of working, Risk teams are not typically an obvious target. As a result, many organisations are operating with a Risk function geared to support the organisation ‘as was’, rather than one which reflects the organisation’s current ‘as is’ demand. This is akin to running a website that is not optimised for mobile browsing, knowing that the majority of your customers transact through their mobile phones.

Critically, these historic, functional Risk models also represent an untenable cost base. It’s time for change, so what does the future face of Risk look like? What are the key things that organisations need to be considering?


Risk management as an enabler

Organisations need to change the narrative from risk management as a barrier to progress to effective risk management being an enabler – positioning Risk as a value creator, used to drive organisational performance.

To do this, organisations need to think more strategically when it comes to risk management, making better decisions for better risk-return outcomes. Risk identification, assessment, control and mitigation remain fundamental, but there is increasing appetite from C-suites of progressive companies to push boundaries and look at the upside potential of considered, strategic risk taking.


Less focus on the rear-view mirror

The Covid-19 pandemic and the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) introduction of the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) have played a key role in driving business leaders to focus more energy and attention on getting ahead of the key risks facing their organisation. This typically involves boards having closer oversight of the risks for which they are accountable, and developing a deep understanding of the fundamental drivers of the systemic vulnerabilities and make-up within their identified risk profiles.

We can still learn from risk events and control failures, but a view on both horizon and real time risk enables agile decision making and timely risk management. With the growth of advancements in data analytics, machine learning, and AI there is plenty of scope for real-time risk monitoring, though simply bringing together the right people with the right skills and knowledge at the right time to manage risk events can be equally impactful.



Risk Teams: smaller, flexible, and more nimble

Organisations face continuous disruption, whether through operating model transformation, the threats (and opportunities) from emerging technologies, or external factors such as increasing competition or the ever-growing threat of cyberattacks. Flexibility and agility become hygiene factors for high performing Risk teams. They must be able to pivot quickly to effectively support their organisation in responding to, and protecting against, both existing and emerging threats.

This points away from large, potentially slow moving and siloed Risk functions, and towards smaller and stealthier teams ready to deploy when it matters most.


Risk Professionals: digitally equipped all-rounders

There is increasingly high demand for risk professionals with analytical and digital skills who can draw meaningful insight from risk data, as well as effective communicators who can bring risk to life, working and influencing cross-functionally at all levels of the organisation.

Skills and experience aside, behavioural traits can underpin the success of modern Risk teams. When considering your Risk function, top of the list should be seeking out people with insatiable curiosity for understanding key developments in the business, the industry, and the evolving regulatory landscape. Risk professionals who keep pace with their organisation’s evolving operating context are able to engage in productive dialogue, relating risk management to their audience and engendering strong working relationships. This can lead to true risk partnership, which is crucial when focusing on risk-based decision making, which can only be of benefit to the organisation.


‘What got you here won’t get you there’

Post-adjustment to the ‘new normal’ following the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses are turning their focus further towards developing operational resilience, managing third party risks and shoring up their cyber defences. With no sign of things quieting down any time soon, now is the time to consider how your Risk function can better support the strategic objectives of your business and deliver real value.

You may be considering how aligned your Risk and Compliance function is to supporting the delivery of your business strategy. We can support organisational design review to drive performance and reduce cost through use of our holistic model, accredited by one of the UK’s leading business schools.


If you’re interested in how we may be able to support you as you take the next steps on your risk journey, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Faye Sadler-Clarke

Head of Risk, Compliance and Innovation


Peer Hackman joins as Managing Director of Telecommunications, Media and Technology Practice

Webhelp and Gobeyond Partners are pleased to announce the expansion of their Telecommunications, Media and Technology Practice, under the leadership of Peer Hackman.

Peer joins Webhelp as Managing Director for TMT. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the business with over 20 years’ experience in leadership, consulting and operational roles with CSPs, technology vendors, management consultancies and media start-ups.

He is supported by a global team of industry consultants, customer experience specialists, customer engagement operations experts, analysts, data scientists and engineers, who work with our clients to transform and create value from customer engagement and experience engineering. This practice brings together specialists who transform customer experience excellence into profitable growth and run your customer operations at greater efficiency and lower costs.

 

Commenting on the TMT expansion, David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK said:

“Telecommunications is a diverse and hugely important sector of the global economy, which has provided a crucial  role during the pandemic in keeping individual and businesses connected, media companies entertaining and informing us, and technology vendors providing the devices and infrastructure. However, the gap between these sectors in shareholder returns has widened. All businesses have realised that customer engagement, experience and trust is THE decisive enabler to produce sustainable growth and expansion in uncertain times. Peer and his practice are working with leading operators, media businesses and technology vendors to help them mature their digital transformations across strategy, customer engagement, operations, culture, technology and data, to build sustainable, resilient and highly profitable future-facing businesses.”

 

Peer Hackman, Managing Director for TMT, continues:

“Webhelp and Gobeyond Partners provide end-to-end capabilities – from assessing our clients’ digital and CX maturity, to helping them to shape their customer engagement strategy to drive business performance, to engineering profitable customer experiences and providing holistic customer engagement solutions. We are uniquely placed to deliver transformative programmes which help clients grow the value of their existing customers, open new market opportunities, drive down the cost base, increase revenue and improve customer satisfaction.

“I’m delighted to be joining the team at Webhelp and Gobeyond Partners and look forward to bringing customer engagement transformation solutions to the often complex challenges faced by their prestigious client base.”

 

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Customers increasingly expect responsible business practices

Our research shows 78% of leaders expect additional scrutiny on how they operate since the pandemic.

Responsibility, transparency, and trust are now perceived to be more important than they were prior to the pandemic.

Our research shows 78% of leaders agreed that customers were paying closer attention to how responsible their business practices are, compared to before the COVID-19 crisis.

It highlights the needs for brands to be more human in their service delivery – looking after colleagues’ wellbeing, supporting emotionally intelligent conversations with customers, and building a genuine connection which can effectively address customer needs.

This research, carried out by Gobeyond Partners and Webhelp, covered 500 senior business leaders and has been used to make recommendations on how service should be reimagined to better meet customer needs.

Mark Palmer, CEO of Gobeyond Partners comments on the findings:

“When considering the seismic changes that COVID-19 has already driven for businesses on a global level, it is heartening to note that many brands have responded remarkably; adapting to rapidly shifting consumer demands and rethinking propositions at unprecedented pace.

“However, some have also suffered significant damage too. Certainly, at the start of lockdown, social media feeds were awash with examples of brands accused of behaving irresponsibly and this hasn’t gone unnoticed by their customers.

“As organisations rush to respond to changing consumer behaviour and working practices, by making much-needed technology and operating model changes, our research highlights the importance of doing this in a responsible, and human way.”

Craig Gibson, Chief Commercial Officer at Webhelp Group continues:

“Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a major shift when it comes to the health and wellbeing, and of course, the safety of team members. However perhaps more interestingly customers have been paying even more attention to how companies deliver on this.

“We have already seen, and indeed will continue to see, a new more “responsible” behavioural shift, with more empathy for those at the front line. This in turn will place more pressure on businesses to deliver on responsible human work practices and ensure this is communicated as part of their customer journey.

“Never before has there been a greater need to demonstrate transparency and create genuine and deep emotional connections with customers and colleagues.”

Whilst technology and a rapidly changing environment is transforming service, it’s clear that people and the human experience will still make the crucial difference in delivering a world-leading customer experience.

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

By combining Webhelp’s expertise in global customer management with Gobeyond

Partners’ customer-journey design, alongside our research with 500 senior business leaders, we’ve provided a unique perspective in our #servicereimagined white paper.


What will motivate the customers of the future?

Successful brands all have at least one thing in common, they clearly understand what customers want, and can pinpoint the most effective way to deliver their products and customer services to meet that need. Here we talk to industry experts from both the Webhelp UK Region and our co-brand Gobeyond Partners to find out how the consumer landscape is changing and what this transformation will mean for customer experience.

Customer behavior is changing, how can businesses build interactions and services to adapt to this change?

Helen Murray, Chief Customer Solutions Officer, Webhelp UK:

Knowledge will be the key.

It’s absolutely essential that organisations understand their customer’s journeys and identify how these have changed as behaviours and expectations have shifted as a result of the crisis.

For example, it’s clear that the face of retail has changed, perhaps forever, with many brands catering to a larger, more mixed demographic who are now adopting e-commerce as their new normal. We are all shopping more frequently online and avoiding the store experience. [1]

Subsequently, companies who establish a real depth of consumer knowledge and who uncover and meet their customer’s core motivations and expectations at relevant points on the service path, are the most likely to succeed moving forwards.

Mark Palmer, CEO, Gobeyond Partners

Transformation in consumer trends and actions will become a natural driving force in the evolution of business processes. Being able to identify behavioural change undertaken by a specific demographic and how this relates to failures (and opportunities) in the service process, will be crucial in shifting the dial.

As will identifying how and where to integrate technology to fully support the end-to-end journey and drive a peak customer experience.

What are the stumbling blocks business should be aware of when creating enhanced customer relationships to build recovery?

Mark Palmer, CEO, Gobeyond Partners

Investment in new infrastructure, more advanced service models and increased data capture and analysis will be prerequisite for sustainable recovery. However, speaking realistically, finding working capital to deliver these solutions may be an issue for brands already suffering from economic pressure due to the pandemic.

The ability to make agile business decisions will be imperative and to minimise risk it is absolutely essential that investment is focused in the right places.

Dave Pattman, MD CX Services, Gobeyond Partners

Added to this, consumer confidence is still fragile – although the UK index rose slightly over the summer[2] – and early signs of recovery stand in the shadow of the second wave of the pandemic, now projected to hit Europe hard in the colder months ahead.

Obviously, brands are now challenged to create viable forecasts against shifting consumer demand, and to be adequately resourced to meet them. In this uncertain climate decisions on pivot points such as when to recruit to meet demand and when to reduce outlay become much more abstract and theoretical.

There will be an increased need for increased online services & intelligent automation to meet these fluctuations economically and to increase flexibility and response rates.

How can brands use innovative digital thinking to respond to new consumer attitudes?

Mark Palmer, CEO, Gobeyond Partners

Our recent Whitepaper revealed that, to reorient and flourish in the new consumer landscape, brands must become more adaptable, focused, digital and human. Of these four pillars, the need to become more digital is perhaps the easiest for brands to understand, but the hardest to deliver in a meaningful way.

They know that new online citizens are emerging and that the world of work has undergone a radical change, but they may have difficulty identifying the pain points that this transformation will bring to their customer journeys – and how and where to embed the most useful digital offerings to best address them.

They must seek out resources to help laser focus their efforts to deliver rapid, effective change – and make the most out of their limited resources.

Helen Murray, Chief Customer Solutions Officer, Webhelp UK:

Many organisations will be exposed due to their lack of digital literacy and will struggle to create effective engagement strategies that ensure they maximise the power of digital intervention at the relevant points in customer lifecycle.

If you don’t thoroughly understand the customer journey, it is difficult to automate or digitise processes in a way that will positively impact customer experience. There is also a danger that you may jeopardise future ability to offer additional propositions, products and services in the best window for action.

Customer insight must be embedded throughout the whole digital transformation process, as it provides the basis to offer intelligent next best action tools.

At Webhelp, we are identifying where human support adds value to digital experiences. Providing guidance and support to customers and brands during high value, complex and emotionally important journeys is critical.

Dave Pattman, MD CX Services, Gobeyond Partners

Brands that honestly seek to innovate have to be willing to supersede ‘faceless’ digital experiences and really connect with their customers. Technology is changing the way service is approached, created and delivered, but the juxtaposition of advanced technology and the human touch, must be carefully managed to enhance rather than hinder customer experience. Success will only be achieved through combining the right technology with a human mindset and strong digital strategy.

Finally, the time has come for brands to let go of dated and limiting legacy technologies and infrastructure, which are often swept under the carpet of the digital transformation roadmap. Failure to do this will put them at a serious disadvantage, as innovators will swiftly build the future of service without them.

[1] Forbes

[2] research-live.com GfK Consumer Confidence Index


Reimagining Service: Insurance spotlight

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


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

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

What's next?

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

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

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

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

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


Reimagining Service: retail spotlight

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

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

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

What's next?

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

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

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

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

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