Webhelp Appoints a New Global Business Unit Executive Director to Support Growing High-Tech Client Base

Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience (CX) and business solutions, has appointed Amar Akatrai as its new Global Business Unit Executive Director – High Tech, to further strengthen and grow the business’ client portfolio across the globe.

Amar joins the business with an extensive background and over 17 years of experience in the business process outsourcing and IT-enabled services industries, where he’s worked across verticals such as technology, telecom, travel, and healthcare.

Most recently, he was at Tech Mahindra, where he helped the Business Process Services business grow eight times the industry rate while working to deliver digital experiences to Fortune 50 companies and Unicorns. Building on his career overseeing operations at WNS Global Services, Ventura (now Capita), and IKS Health, he’s developed a deep understanding of CX strategy, digital transformation, and operational excellence.

To support account management across the group, Webhelp has appointed Amar to focus on new and existing partnerships to help deliver exceptional experiences for some of the world’s leading technology companies. Based in California, he will oversee a team of high-performing global account managers and operations managers.

“I’m thrilled to join during such an exciting part of the Webhelp journey and amazed at the unique entrepreneurial spirit that drives this passionate teams,” said Amar. “I’m looking forward to combining my experience with Webhelp’s unrivaled capabilities in this industry, to help new and existing clients deliver truly game-changing customer experiences.”

“I am delighted to welcome Amar to the Webhelp family. His appointment is hugely strategic for us. As we continue to expand, our relationships with clients must remain a priority as we pursue our mission to become a top-three leader globally. Amar’s depth of experience across verticals driving digital transformation and super-charging businesses will be an enormous asset for Webhelp and our growing leadership team,” said Jean-Baptiste Decaix, Webhelp’s Chief Client Officer.

The announcement comes during a time of expansion at Webhelp in the Americas, following the acquisition of OneLink earlier in 2021, creating a business with over 95,000 people across 50 countries.


Webhelp Welcomes Tech Leader Benjamin Faes to Executive Committee

Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience (CX) and business solutions, announced that Benjamin Faes has joined the group from his leadership role at Google.

As Group Managing Director, Benjamin reinforces the company’s executive leadership team at a time of significant growth, including an expanding technology client portfolio.

Benjamin’s career at Google spanned 14 years, most recently as Managing Director at Google Cloud for Southern Europe and Emerging Markets, where he worked to transition the business’s enterprise clients to the cloud. Prior to this, he led the launch of YouTube’s services across Europe.

“As a strong leader with an agile growth mindset, Benjamin will reinforce the business and executive team with his fresh perspective. His expertise and knowledge will serve him well as he leads our global marketing and business development practice,” said Olivier Duha, CEO and Co-founder at Webhelp. “I think I speak on behalf of everyone when I say that I am thrilled to welcome Benjamin to our team and am confident in his ability to further develop our strategy to create unforgettable human experiences.”

Benjamin brings 25 years of experience in sales and marketing strategy, leadership, and mergers and acquisitions, through his work with globally leading technology and media companies.

At Webhelp, he will work closely with the executive leadership team and Matthieu Bouin, Group Managing Director, leveraging his expertise in fast-growth organizations to support the business as it continues to scale globally.

“Today, the success of brands is based on how they design journeys that take their customers’ needs into account every step of the way,” said Faes. “I look forward to working with the team to help design, deliver and optimize truly incredible customer experiences. I’m impressed by the unique entrepreneurial spirit and culture that is brought to life across all areas of the business and am excited to join on this journey.”


Role of Data

Anywhere, Anytime, Any device

In the post-pandemic world, customers expect to interact with brands on their terms – via their preferred channel, and at the time and place they want.  

With demand for digital channels spiking, brands must now integrate all forms of communication which are relevant for their specific customers – such as chat bots, SMS, web, mobile apps, phone, email, video, WhatsApp and Messenger. 

Here, we discuss three trends in demand for new channels to optimize CX while retaining operational control – a topic explored more fully in the CX21 series.

Provide a seamless user experience

Many customers want to proactively investigate, and self-serve, solutions to problems – often using multiple channels simultaneously for a speedier resolution.  

What people will not tolerate is brands wasting their time by failing to manage the complexity of the omnichannel environment. In reality, that means being asked to provide the same information multiple times or being sent down ‘dead end’ or circular channels, where it’s impossible to complete transactions. It’s vital that customers can complete journeys in any, and all, channels provided by the brand – be it an app, website, social channels or bot. 

Advanced firms recognize that multi-experience is a strategic priority. They’re investing in cloud contact centres which enable them to integrate all their business operations – from sales, customer service, CRM, and marketing, which helps customers to switch easily between channels. It also ensures technologies work together, and provides a ‘single view of the customer’ across online and offline experiences.  

Design with the customer in mind

Brands must resist the temptation to implement ‘cool’ new channels for the sake of it – effectively putting tactics before strategy.  

The journey to multi-channel should always begin with a “human sense of design thinking” – gaining a genuine understanding of what your customers are trying to achieve, and the journeys they’re taking to get there.  

For consumers, the priorities are most likely to be convenience and simplicity. When introducing new channels, it’s often easier and more practical for brands to introduce bolt-ons for existing customer technology, rather than introduce clunky proprietary apps – many of which to date have collected data but added little value to customers. 

With demand for digital channels soaring, consumer expectations are increasing, above and beyond phone conversations with advisors. In reality, these calls are often the “human last resort” for people happy to self-serve, thus brands should recruit and assign highly skilled advisors to handle these complex queries. 

In short, customers love digital channels – but their primary concern remains the ability to easily complete transactions – whatever the channel.  

Role of data

Providing an opportunity for great CX anytime, anywhere and on any device marks a clear win for consumers. But it also enables intelligent brands to secure a competitive advantage – through gathering, centralizing, and mining data from the entire customer journey.  

Brands will need to use AI and analytics to create the customer profiles which underpin future products and services. These data-led approaches help to exceed customer expectations, cement customer loyalty, and refine multi-channel strategies.  

And that’s a wise move, because delivering a robust multi-channel environment is not a one-off exercise; brands will need to make a long term, operational commitment, and a team of people to continuously assess and improve performance.  

The shift to multi-channel will put clear water between CX brands. Those which streamline channels, apply human design thinking, and harness insights from powerful data, will maintain ‘sticky’ customer relationships  – delivering experiences well beyond purely transactional and reactive services. Brands which don’t engage with multichannel risk reputational damage from wasting their customers’ time on poorly-designed journeys which prioritize channels over user experience. 

Discover our CX21 series that explores the major trends, opportunities, and challenges in the world of CX in the 21st century, focusing on how brands can thrive in this dynamic context. 

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Webhelp Oneshot Technology CX

Discover the 7th edition of our OneShot magazine on Technology

Our 7th edition of the OneShot is here!

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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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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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Read the 6th edition of our OneShot magazine on Social Engagement

Our 6th edition of the OneShot is here!

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Tick tock tick tock…

Time is ticking away – now is the time to start focusing on social engagement.

Social commitment means becoming aware, but above all, taking action and standing up for inequalities.

Taking action can be as simple as these recipes to be: more human, more green, and more equal. Not only are these good for you, but for others too.

Compelling your company to pledge and commit in the fight for social and environmental changes, such as the global warming crisis or social justices and equalities – are vital steps to take now for a brighter future.

And it all starts with knowledge. So, here’s to your learning with the latest edition of the OneShot.

Dare to be ‘woke’ and be a driving force for change?

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Telecats named as an Exceptional AI Solutions Provider by Frost & Sullivan

Virtual reality concept: abstract visualization of artificial intelligence

This report puts a great spotlight on Telecats and is a strong recognition of the company’s long-term commitment to invest in AI and delivering speech enabled solutions for accelerated customer experiences. Part of Webhelp Group since 2017, Telecats is headquartered in the Netherlands near top university Twente and partners with over 100 European leading brands such as DPG Media, easyJet, MSD France and MSD Vaccins, KPN and Webhelp itself, automating voice-based interactions. By implementing Smart IVR, Voicebots and Speech Routing, and other actionable use cases leveraging language modeling, Telecats redesigns the way contact centers operate.

Federico Teveles, Research Analyst – Information and Communications Technologies at Frost & Sullivan stated;

“Telecats’ remarkable technological capabilities are pivotal to its success in meeting market expectations. They have a successful track record of delivering advanced, custom conversational AI solutions to leading global enterprises, and exhibit exceptional customer satisfaction rates. Telecats incorporates a myriad of high-quality, forward-looking features that allow customers to optimize the customer journey and enhance agent experience (AX) and customer experience (CX). The acquisition by Webhelp has helped to position itself as a market leader.”

In this report, Frost and Sullivan has reviewed a wide range of companies in the entire European market and has paid a specific attention to the trends, opportunities, and challenges in the fast-growing industry of Voicebots and A.I. This study highlights Telecats in particular for the strong assets they bring to the table; a combination of highly developed technology skills, long-term business experience and its association with Webhelp, Europe’s leading CX and business solutions provider, bringing Telecats a unique positioning in Europe. With a focus on 2 client implementations, the report is a great demonstration of Telecats’ strong track record of delivering great AI-powered solutions to leading global companies.

Martijn Franssen, Director Digital Transformation KPN stated:

“The innovative speech solutions of Telecats fitted perfectly in the architecture required to bring KPN’s digital strategy to life within Customer Service. And importantly, we definitely see a Cultural fit. Telecats simply provides a flexible, modernized approach. The results we achieved with the voice and AI technology are proof of our unique cooperation. With a clear voice for Customer Service the customer literally becomes the center and basis of innovation in the field of customer contact.”

Telecats’ nomination as exceptional A.I. Solutions provider follows the recognition of Webhelp’s leadership, particularly in innovation, by the group’s top position in Frost & Sullivan’s RadarTM: European CX Outsourcing 2020 announced just a few days ago.


Taking a human centred approach to cyber security

In response to the evolving cyber challenge in the post-COVID-19 landscape, James Allen, Chief Risk & Technology Officer for the Webhelp UK Region, considers the way that risk in customer service has evolved and reveals the steps Webhelp has taken to protect its clients and people, with a human centred approach to cyber security.

The humanitarian crisis brought by COVID-19 undoubtedly caused rapid and universal disruption to businesses across the global stage; impacting economies, and leaving some companies struggling to maintain business continuity, whilst increasingly vulnerable to unscrupulous cyber criminals.

In fact, the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime division has reported evidence of a substantial rise in malicious activity (specific to the topic of COVID-19) in areas like phishing, malware, ransomware, infrastructure attacks, targeting teleworking employees to gain system access, fraud schemes (fake medicines and goods), misinformation and fake news.

In July, Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, published that victims had already lost over £11 million to COVID-19 related scams.

Consequently, the pandemic has put an intense spotlight on personal cyber practices, especially as working from home (without proper measures) can create more risk than the traditional controlled office environment. Similarly, Tech Republic reported that, from phishing attacks to malware, 71% of security professionals have been recording increased security threats or attacks since the COVID-19 outbreak, and as a result many countries and companies have been spurred into rapid action.

In the UK more than 80 coronavirus-related phishing and scam websites were taken down in just one day after the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) asked for the public to report suspicious emails. Existing takedown services, in one month alone, removed more than 2,000 online scams related to coronavirus, including 471 fake online shops, 555 malware distribution sites, 200 phishing sites and 832 advance-fee frauds. NCSC chief executive officer Ciaran Martin believes that the rise in technology use is making online safety more critical, saying:

 “Technology is helping us cope with the coronavirus crisis and will play a role helping us out of it – but that means cybersecurity is more important than ever,”   Source: Zdnet.com

 And, according to PWC, 80% of UK CEOs are concerned about the risk of cyber threats to their business, it is the issue they are most worried about, above skills (79%) and the speed of technological change (75%).

Revealingly, just under half of UK CEOs (48.4%) have taken some action regarding their own personal digital behaviour, including deleting social media or requesting a company to delete their data.

This is a worrying trend, which was noticeable even prior to the current crisis, as (according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) 2019 saw a 350% increase in ransomware attacks, a 250% increase in spoofing or business email compromise (BEC) attacks and a 70% increase in spear-phishing attacks in companies overall.

Furthermore, the average cost of a cyber-data breach rose from $4.9 million in 2017 to $7.5 million in 2018. Likewise, worldwide spending on cyber security increased by over 20% during 2017-2019 ($101Bn – $124Bn) and inevitably these costs will continue to rise, but without addressing the human behaviours contributing to this trend, much of this investment could be wasted.

And behaviour change is the key, as research firm Proofpoint revealed that a staggering 99% of threats observed relied on human interaction like enabling a macro, opening a file, following a link, or opening a document – highlighting the role of social engineering in enabling successful attacks, and the importance of knowledge as the top factor for prevention.

A recent FirstData study revealed that 60% of individuals are currently concerned about online security, and feel the need to do more to protect themselves. But information on how to do this is clearly absent, as over a quarter of those asked were entirely uninformed about the subject.

We know that the pandemic has led to record numbers of individuals now working from home – often without prior knowledge and experience of safe remote working practices and the potential security risks.  And, this situation is complicated by the fact that too often companies publish complex security policies, which are difficult to understand for the regular user.

As a people-first company, Webhelp is committed to a human centred approach to Cyber Security, aiming to provide all our people with the essential skills to keep them and their families safe online.

From the start it was clear that education was critical to delivering this goal. We recognised a need for clear and simple guidelines, put forward in an engaging and easy to follow manner, to help employees gain insight and confidence in recognising and protecting themselves against potential scams and take action when approaching cyber security.

So, in 2020 we launched our Cyber Super Heroes Campaign, designed to make complex security advice simple and accessible to all colleagues. This campaign talked to these issues in a humorous yet informative voice, and our activity has accelerated to support our colleagues through a time when cyber threats were increasing.

Focusing on a different topic every fortnight, guidance has been delivered across multiple channels including on site, email, social media, the employee intranet, desktops and screen savers and by using digital animations and posters.

Our people were also given the opportunity to get involved by becoming a Webhelp Cyber Superhero, through signing up for in-depth additional information to better champion the cause to their teammates and families.

The campaign has covered a full spectrum of cyber security topics including:

  • Phishing
  • Safe Passwords
  • Physical Security, both at work and at home
  • Keeping safe online
  • Social Engineering
  • Malware
  • Social Media
  • Keeping kids safe online
  • Safe Online Banking
  • Keeping your devices secure when you’re out and about
  • Cookies

Finally, to add a truly human face to our campaign, personal stories from volunteers in our business were shared. Colleagues were extremely keen to highlight their experiences and offered heartfelt advice to their colleagues, with the goal of really delivering a relatable message that Cyber scams can and do happen, and that together we can make our online activity safer, both in our workplaces and in our homes.

However, the work doesn’t stop there as Head of Cyber & Privacy for Webhelp UK Region, Chris Underhill, explains:

“The cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving, requiring businesses to monitor threats, adapt to change and deal with incidents swiftly. As part of my new role in Webhelp, I will be supporting our international teams and clients with cutting edge cyber intelligence, training, technology and consultancy services that not only help secure organisations against a growing number of threats, but also provide professional, certified level assurance to help secure business as usual against a backdrop of regulation, uncertain times and new working conditions.

 It’s clear that threats facing businesses extend well beyond the network perimeter and a move towards a new ‘human centric’ approach to cyber security is required to protect critical assets from compromise. Webhelp are committed to supporting our teams and clients using the very best in technology and educational programmes that will provide a robust suite of solutions across the industry.

Agility and innovation in risk has been crucial to managing the pace of change during the pandemic, so despite the challenges brought by COVID, fear must not stand in the way of progress. This is something that will be explored further in a forthcoming blog for the #servicereimagined series.

 

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.


OneShot #5 - Influence

Our 5th edition of OneShot is here!

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Following the unprecedented situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous companies have been forced to make vital adjustments to stay afloat and also guarantee business continuity. Our interesting reads also include:

A Word: KOL – Key Opinion Leader
A Number: 10,000 subscribers and no more
Three Opinions: Influence: How to get your messages across?
One News: TikTok supports its position in Europe
A Demo: The dark social
A B-Case: How Webhelp’s KYC participated in securing a platform by Bpifrance
A Hashtag: #TrustYourInfluencer
An Offer: MyStudioFactory
An appointment: Conversation 2020, Paris
A Conversation: How to restore confidence in the time of fake news?
A Story: Santa Claus, citizen of the New World

Read all about these exciting and thought-provoking topics in our 5th edition of OneShot.


How AI and data analytics can support vulnerable customers

Well before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the identification and protection of vulnerable customers was a significant focus for companies and regulators. Here James Allen, Chief Risk & Technology Officer for Webelp UK Group looks at the impact it will have, now and in the future.

In these testing times, the identification and protection of vulnerable customers will now assume even more importance as organisations work on proactively recognising customers who need assistance, prior to the predicted surge in demand for financial support - as aids like employee furloughs, payment holidays and credit schemes end.

Worryingly, prior to the outbreak over half of the UK population were already financially vulnerable, with one in six people unable to cope with a £50 increase in monthly bills, according to a survey of Britain’s personal finances by the City regulator. The Financial Conduct Authority’s biggest ever survey of households found that 4.1 million people are already in serious financial difficulty, falling behind with bills and credit card payments, with 25- to 34-year-olds the most over-indebted.

Furthermore, 50% of adults (over 25.6 million people) “display one or more characteristics that signal their potential vulnerability” and just under 8 million are over-indebted.

And this is not limited to the UK, as the 2019 Prosperity Now Scorecard finds that forty percent of American households lack a basic level of savings and don’t have enough savings to make ends meet at the poverty level for three months if their income was interrupted. Almost half (48.1%) of Americans with credit had scores below prime and 20% of households had no credit in the past 12 months and were likely to be without access to it.

Furthermore, a report from the ING Group states that southern European economies like Italy and Spain are especially vulnerable to the economic effects of COVID, exacerbated by the importance of tourism which accounts for at least 13% of GDP and about 15% of total employment. They also have a larger share of vulnerable workers and a higher chance of bankruptcies due to firm size.

However, throughout all this we must remember that vulnerability can be a temporary and fluctuating status, with many causes, including mental health, dementia, changes in employment and personal circumstances, literacy, numeracy and socioeconomic factors.  It is key to use technology to help people on an individual basis, never forgetting that unique set of circumstances they may be experiencing.

Plus, regulators will be keeping a close eye on these new developments, and the pressure may soon be on firms to use all available routes to safeguard customers and prevent the global financial crisis from deepening.

So the question for many global companies has become, in the post COVID world, how do we identify and support customers who are financially vulnerable, without compromising operational efficiency?

And this is especially important for us at Webhelp, as we carry a people-first commitment and our think human value through to the customer base of over 32 clients in the UK, India and South Africa.

It’s clear that data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI) is already changing the way that companies offer support to their most vulnerable customers, and that this may play a part in reshaping the regulatory landscape. While establishing if someone is vulnerable and how best to support them is a very human judgment, at Webhelp we believe that sensitive and careful use of data, using AI to segment, can help direct the right customer support teams to the right people, spotting potential issues before they become a problem.

We combine the very best in technology and skilled people to create the best outcomes, as Chris Bryson, Webhelp Global Data & Analytics Director explains:

“We’re helping clients leave no stone unturned to reveal customer vulnerability. Whether customers tell us directly that they’re experiencing issues, or if they show characteristics of someone who can be vulnerable; using analytics from customer contacts and records helps us and our clients see those signals clearly.

We use our own unique speech and text analytics engine, which is applied to advisor and automated customer conversations. The resulting Voice of the Customer analytics drives constant improvements in the way we measure quality and enhances the overall customer experience.

As a result, we can help our clients to spot vulnerable customers who would otherwise slip through the net. At the heart, it’s about helping our advisors to better support that customer, and working with our clients to ensure they are recognising these signs of vulnerability.”

By using this insight, and access to the best analytical technology, and to the right people to put this in action for the greater good, we can confidently move forwards and create a better financial environment for both clients and customers in the future.

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.                                        This aims to address these crucial questions and is underpinned by our unique industry perspective alongside new research to discover the operating models of the future.