Changing Lives in South Africa: Advisors in their own words

As Webhelp’s partnership with Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator continues, Cathy Kalamaras takes a look back at the story so far, explores why the alliance remains a priority, and shares some of the positive career journeys and life changing experiences of our Harambee colleagues.

Changing lives in SAAs a South African who has personally witnessed that investment in the right training, effective coaching appropriate tools and the right attitude, can transform the outlook for the youth of South Africa, I am delighted to report that Webhelp’s partnership with Harambee, which was established in 2016, continues to go from strength to strength.

Harambee are experts in the dynamics of the South African unemployed youth labour market, which is much needed as youth unemployment in South Africa was called a “national crisis” by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2019. The figures have reached an all-time high of 59% in the first quarter of 2020.

Brandon Aitken, our Chief Commercial Officer for South Africa, remarks:

“The employment landscape has undoubtedly been impacted by the devastating COVID crisis, so it is NOW more than ever that we need to nurture and create opportunities for the enthusiastic and skilled young people in South Africa. We remain doubly committed to our work with Harambee, and the amazing candidates that have joined our business and I am delighted that we are in a fortune position to convert all our Harambee contractors into permanent employees. The work-readiness programme has prepared these candidates for the world of work, and our inhouse training and working experience opportunity has assisted in uncovering the high levels of potential within our people, thus allowing us to continue to deliver a high standard of customer excellence to our clients.”

I deeply believe that Harambee provides an invaluable lifeline in the fight against poverty, and that together we can create economic opportunities and growth for our youth. At Webhelp, we are in the perfect position to do this; as according to the Business Process enabling South Africa (BPeSA), the umbrella industry association for the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector in South Africa, in their fourth quarter 2019 results, the sector now employs approximately 260,000 people, and remains a growth area. It is also a sector that doesn’t need formal tertiary education for entry level positions, which opens up the opportunities to growing and developing talent.

Whilst Harambee’s bridge into work activity has been halted by COVID-19, Webhelp made space for work ready candidates who missed out on an opportunity with another firm due to the pandemic. As a result, an additional 20 Harambee candidates have recently joined our Webhelp family to begin their journey into skilled employment. Plus, Webhelp is delighted to have driven a massive conversion rate for the Harambee recruits hired during our period in 2019, by moving 165 employees from fixed-term contracts to permanent placements.*

Since 2016, we have welcomed around 800, Harambee recruits into our organisation, and have found permanent positions for at least 633 supporting various campaigns and clients, to remain in full time employment. Of those 70 also took part in our learnership programme.

We thought that there would be no better way to give you a sense of how profound our impact sourcing model has had than to share some success stories, (in their own words) from the customer service advisor colleagues right at the heart of the partnership:

Devon JacobsDevon Jacobs: Contact Centre Advisor

“The learning experience that Harambee had offered us is something I will keep with me for the rest of my life. I’ve made friends and learned so much about working in the corporate world. We learned about people’s backgrounds and different upbringings which, in my opinion made us grow so much closer to each other, and we still remember and check up on each other.

The environment is perfect for youth, we had five weeks training at Harambee as well as an additional five weeks at Webhelp that was beneficial for us in my opinion.

It feels great helping customers and actually being able to make people happy. I see myself growing here, and would love to become a Team Leader within the next 2-4 years, as I’m happy with my work environment and see myself hopefully a bit higher on the corporate ladder.

I am so happy I recently signed a new permanent contract on The Very Group Campaign, and I’m just in the perfect headspace to grow within the business because at Webhelp there is growth in abundance!”

Neziswa MkitikaNeziswa Mkitika: Contact Centre Advisor

“My name is Neziswa Mkitika, I’m 33 years old, have two kids and passed my matric in 2007. I started working as a clerk for six years and studied HR while I was working for human resources. I then worked in retail for four years as a merchandiser and became a field marketer.

Harambee was a bridge for me to cross, when I started I was at my lowest. They changed the way I think, started me from scratch and they have taught me how to come out of my shell. No university can teach you more than they can teach you. They are the experts in the industry and I am the person that I am now because of all the hard work that they have put into me.

I have a calling to work with people, which is my gift, because I can read a person. Thanks to Webhelp I have found myself, Webhelp values define me as I love people, it’s not about money – it’s about doing what you love.  Webhelp has many opportunities, I cannot wait to grow in the business!”

ZubairZubair Samuels: Contact Centre Advisor

“I got an opportunity at Harambee, I started in mid-May and to be honest it was quite challenging to be in that position where I was preparing myself for the world of work. We spent five weeks at Harambee working hard and having fun,

When it came to an end I was really sad, we were leaving the place where we were taught how to manage time, be responsible, be organised and well-disciplined – not to forget learning appropriate dress code. But the journey began and we succeeded in moving to the next step which was huge, I finally I got a job!

I was so excited and nervous at the same time, because it was a whole new challenge, a different environment and different people to adapt too. Firstly we had to go on a training course, to be honest those were the best five weeks ever, training is basically the best ever!

We had so much fun and obstacles in our way as well that we had to overcome. The trainer was very knowledgeable and extremely chilled which made learning the product so much easier. The training prepared us for how it should be on the operational floor.

The first time on the operational floor I was so nervous, even though we had call listening in training. But, as I took my first call the advisor sitting with me was very helpful and made it easier. I made a lot of mistakes which I learnt brilliantly from, it helped me grow as an advisor. The campaign I am on is very busy but I love challenges and this was one of my biggest ones. It paid off and I passed GRAD BAY and then became LIVE, which was a great achievement!

Then finally my role became permanent, this company is really good and they provide lots of growth opportunities.

In the last of couple of months it has been tough due to the current pandemic, but it has been worth it as now the opportunities are actually flying out – giving all of us the chance to grow and succeed. I would actually love the chance just to showcase my ability in a leader role, I dearly hope that this journey does not end here and is continued with many more opportunities available to come!”

This is a model that has truly benefit our organisation, and there has been nothing more fulfilling; knowing that we have had an opportunity to nurture the untapped skill potential of unemployed youth in our country, not only impact their lives, but also the lives of their immediate families. We are proud to be playing our small part to #changinglives

Civic responsibility is part of the DNA of Webhelp, which has been running successfully for twenty years. Discover the four pillars of Webhelp’s citizen action here.


Webhelp South Africa launches unique leadership diversity programme

Webhelp South Africa launches unique leadership diversity programme in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch Business School

Webhelp South Africa launches unique leadership diversity programmeWebhelp South Africa and the University of Stellenbosch Business School are delighted to announce an innovative new educational partnership.

Webhelp, a global leader in customer experience and business solutions, is collaborating with the university to develop an inclusive and accredited route into future business leadership, which aims to fully reflect the rich diversity and culture of the country.

The collaboration is another step in Webhelp’s investment in South Africa and the University of Stellenbosch Business School is an ideal partner. The university provides highly-regarded academic credentials and is ‘triple crown accredited’ an accolade given to only 1% of business schools worldwide.

This in-house, bespoke leadership acceleration programme will create a sustainable skill-based pipeline, to promote the development of equity candidates within various levels of leadership. The course will deliver a blended approach, combining formal education, in-role experience and relationship building. It will be available to a range of Webhelp employees from all academic stages and backgrounds.

David Turner, Webhelp CEO for the region, added his support to this approach by saying:

“As a people first business, Webhelp is fully committed to diversity and inclusivity, which starts with giving all our people the skills, confidence and opportunity to fulfill their potential. Together we are actively working towards making sure our leadership teams of the future reflect the full range of talent South Africa can offer.”

As the first candidates start their leadership journeys this week, Dr. Chris van der Hoven, CEO for the University of Stellenbosch Business School explains why they believe this will be such a unique opportunity:

“We believe that the combination of being authentically African and globally accredited is an important element of the contribution Webhelp is making in the development of teams and executives.
“Our faculty and professional staff come from highly diverse backgrounds and feel strongly aligned to the transformational ambitions of Webhelp as a business for Africa. The key account relationship and close partnership allow USB-ED to really understand the business, develop insights into the challenges, and innovate over time to secure impact and relevance.
“Our excitement about working in partnership with a global business in a growing and highly relevant business cannot be overstated.”

Many of these employees will be returning to the world of education while working full-time, so they will be supported by a team of learning process facilitators. This team will help them every step of the way by looking after their individual wellbeing, supporting them to deliver assignments and acting as a friendly hand to guide them through any unfamiliar interactions within the faculty.

Cathy Kalamaras, People Director at Webhelp South Africa is enthusiastic about the possibilities that this new initiative will bring, saying:

“At Webhelp, we truly believe in nurturing the talent of all our people. We work hard to deliver a transformational journey that creates a level playing field and offers all employees an equal opportunity to discover their full potential. This partnership is another exciting step in achieving that, and I am looking forward to seeing our people reach new heights. This programme gives them everything they need to succeed at Webhelp and offers lasting qualifications that they can carry forward throughout their careers.”

Trish Koning, Commercial Director at the University of Stellenbosch Business School adds:

“We are proud to be a partner and look forward to delivering our brand promise in this game-changing leadership acceleration programme. It gives people the opportunity to be the best that they can be and creates a strong pipeline of future leaders.”


78% of directors believe customers are paying more attention to responsible business practices since pandemic

New research from Gobeyond Partners, the consulting firm focused on customer journey transformation, and Webhelp, Europe’s leading provider of outsourced customer engagement services, has today revealed that responsibility, transparency and trust are now perceived to be more important than they were prior to the pandemic. These values are deemed to be so important that over seven in 10 directors of UK companies stated that their customers are now paying more attention to how responsible their business practices are compared to before the COVID-19 crisis.

Responsible business is just one of a number of data points in some joint research and accompanying report by Gobeyond Partners and Webhelp which underlines the importance of a human experience, as we move to a more digital age. It also highlights that organisations will need to work hard to manage this emerging trend, which will be crucial to the future of customer service as we enter this new normal.

Gobeyond Partners and Webhelp surveyed 500 respondents of director level and above across a range of industries about the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. By combining Webhelp’s expertise in customer engagement with Gobeyond Partners’ customer journey design and transformation, the two organisations were able to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 across a number of key areas and offer recommendations to businesses as they start to plan towards a post pandemic world.

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.”

Other key findings from the joint research include:

  • 70% of businesses have seen a direct impact to their bottom line as a result of COVID-19, with more than half being negatively affected.
  • These financial impacts are expected to last, with more than 80% of respondents believing they will be financially impacted for six months or more and 50% expecting their finances to be affected for more than a year.

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.”

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.


Trends 2020 – Connected vehicles: data sharing will benefit all players

Car manufacturers are in a paradoxical situation: they are bringing back huge amounts of data from vehicles without fully exploiting or sharing it. Yet, the PTOLEMUS Consulting Group's Vehicle Data Market Global Study report reveals there are high stakes in opening up this ecosystem as manufacturers, motorists and third parties would have a lot to gain. The customer experience could be completely transformed - in compliance with current regulations. Manufacturers must act now, otherwise the exploitation of this data will be done without them.

To gather further insights into transforming the customers experience in mobility services, we interview Frédéric Bruneteau's, President of PTOLEMUS Consulting Group, who has over 20 years' experience in mobility services, becoming one of the worlds’ foremost experts in the field of connected vehicles. Our Director of the Telecom & High-Tech BU at Webhelp, Jalil Lahlou, also shares his insights into these transformations.

Why did you launch this study on vehicle data?

Frédéric Bruneteau (FB): The market was close to maturity on the strategic issue of vehicle data, and on the opportunities for value creation offered by their sharing. This hypothesis was confirmed during the 50 interviews that many international automotive professionals gave us, in 18 countries.

I should point out that the study does not only concern car manufacturers, since we studied 8 vertical mobility markets, including: fleet management, car rental and car sharing, payment from the vehicle, car maintenance (remote or local), car insurance, etc.

In the end, these 8 months of work allowed us to better estimate the fantastic data production of the vehicle, current and future, and its fundamental economic stakes. The 600-page report covers the period 2018-2030 and proposes case studies from 7 manufacturers who already share their data.

How is vehicle data produced and what is the role of Vehicle Data Hubs?

FB: Firstly, I would like to point out cars are already producing phenomenal amounts of data, and with good reason. There are a good hundred sensors in a vehicle, and there are more lines of code in the computer programs that manage it than in those of an Airbus.

To take advantage of this data, new platforms are appearing today, these are the Vehicle Data Hubs (VDH).

These are sometimes traditional players who have gradually taken an interest in vehicle data and its use, such as insurance (LexisNexis, Verisk) or maintenance (CCC) providers. These players have been exchanging data with manufacturers for several years now within the scope of their original business which makes them specialists.

In addition, we have recently seen the emergence of more generalist players, such as Wejo, Otonomo and Caruso. Their approach is first and foremost to serve carmakers and open up their data to the rest of the world, in all verticals.

What are the current and future business models for exploiting this data?

FB: The data generated by a rolling vehicle is of all types: traffic information, incident and accident detection, maintenance data, conditions, and modes of use, etc.

Some data takes on a special meaning, and therefore value when crossed intelligently. For example, some VDHs are already doing this and can thus determine which lane on a 3 or 4-lane road runs best. This information can be monetized in different ways.

Another example: for an insurer, interesting data can be retrieved from the vehicle, such as distances travelled, as well as risk levels; depending on whether one is driving during the day rather than at night, on the highway rather than on the road, etc., this makes it possible to build different billing models based on usage.

However, in this insurance niche, suppliers of electronic boxes are already positioned to provide this data; competing solutions also exist, based on the mobile phone. In other words, car manufacturers are already ‘short-circuited' in these business models. This should make them aware of the value of the data they collect...

More generally, the automotive ecosystem is particularly large and diverse, with dealerships, repairers, accessory dealers, leasers, and a multitude of equipment and service providers.

All these players have a strong interest in accessing vehicle data to create all kinds of business models.

Jalil Lahlou (JL): I would simply add that vehicle data can create a lot of value, as long as it can be coupled with user data. The latter are now being exploited in a very relevant way, based on data analytics.

Based on cross-referencing of vehicle-driver data, loyalty and personalisation actions can be imagined. For example, for a manufacturer, this opens-up opportunities for range renewal: the sales pitch to a driver would be much more relevant, since we would be aware of his real uses.

In other words, this opens up opportunities for upselling complementary options, mobility products and services, etc.

For example, a good knowledge of the driver and his or her uses would make it possible to recommend other products - such as the purchase of an electric scooter for a very urban, short-distance, environmentally conscious user.

In a loyalty and renewal framework, the proposal for a replacement vehicle could be based on reliable bases (age of the vehicle, kilometres travelled, repurchase value of the vehicle, etc.).

These practices are highly developed in telecoms. Conversely, today, manufacturers find it very difficult to keep track of a vehicle's life.

More generally, this cross-referencing of vehicle-driver data would lead to the emergence of new types of prospects and customers, highly relevant to the automotive and mobility ecosystem. Subject, of course, to strict compliance with regulations in force, such as the RGPD, and the rejection of dubious practices of the dark pattern type.

How important is consent to the use of vehicle data?

FB: This is one of the most important questions - how will this consent be granted, and renewed on a regular basis? Some data will not be personal data - anonymised traffic data, for example, but others will fall within this legal perimeter, such as geolocation data.

Significant efforts will therefore have to be made in terms of transparency and education, so that users see their interest in this exploitation of their vehicle data.

This is the sine qua non of consent, whether one-off or more permanent.

Which segments are affected by the use of vehicle data?

FB: Based on the study, 4 segments can be distinguished:

  1. Company cars, which in some markets account for around 50% of new car sales (Belgium, England...),
  2. New cars - the majority of which in Europe are purchased by people over 50 years of age, this population being users of digital products and services
  3. Second-hand cars which often lack a digital link to the manufacturer or other players
  4. As for the digital natives, they see the world without owning a car. However, they are looking for mobility and carpooling solutions from their mobiles. Neither do they have a digital link with the manufacturer or other players.

As you can imagine, each of these segments has its own challenges in terms of the customer experience

JL: As far as new vehicles sold in Europe are concerned, regulations require them to be equipped with the eCall emergency call system. Cross-vehicle driver knowledge creates new opportunities in customer care such as premium support that could concern the optimised use of the vehicle, or a ‘concierge’ type service for vehicle maintenance and to make the driver's life easier, for example.

Preventive maintenance services are also possible on these bases. Generally speaking, these 4 segments could all benefit from a much-improved customer experience and customer relations.

You advocate a model for sharing vehicle data, what are your arguments?

FB: As I pointed out, cars already produce a considerable amount of data flow, and the trend will increase in the future since all new models in Europe are connected. Yet, paradoxically, these gigabytes of data are hardly ever shared with third parties.

Here, a comparison must be made as data from mobile phones has been widely shared and used for a long time. There is a strategic challenge in sharing vehicle data to offer drivers new services and a richer, more satisfying experience.

Apple has just announced its intention to use vehicle data (in partnership with BMW) to launch a digital solution for Car Keys - to open the door of a car purchased, rented, or borrowed with an iPhone.

This enables manufacturers to implement this service for car users so they can easily access the car using their Apple mobile device.

How can manufacturers create a mechanism for third parties to access vehicle data?

FB: The manufacturers we interviewed already have ideas or solutions.

The general idea is to design a platform model that allows targeted access to certain data, with the necessary consents. Each platform would be linked to a manufacturer on the one hand and to third parties on the other.

Of course, there are already some implementations that correspond to this model at some manufacturers, for example BMW or General Motors, but they are still only on a small scale.

It is true that today, manufacturers do not have a data centric culture, or that they have other priorities, but rather extraordinarily complex and heavy in investments: the autonomous car, the electrification of vehicles, the reduction of emissions, and so on.

So, one of the key conclusions of the study is that the most efficient way to go to scale in vehicle data management would be to use specialised players. These have the expertise to create data hubs, and to make them available to thousands of players. This is the purpose of GM's investment in Wejo and Nissan's investment in Otonomo.

What do you think of Apple and Google's App Store model?

FB: It is indeed the model of app stores, as it was developed for smartphones. Millions of developers can thus create applications, often useful and with high added value.

Our analysis and our bet is, this model will eventually prevail, due to a great market demand and the solidity of the model. Moreover, Silicon Valley has proven that by putting customer data at the centre of the organization, we solve all the problems of an industry or service!

Finally, it is very likely that a regulation will be put in place on these subjects, in Europe and the United States in the next 2 or 3 years, and we must anticipate this.

Will manufacturers be able to draw inspiration from the success of Apple and Google?

That would be the start of a new era!


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.

 


Reimagining Service: Travel spotlight

In 2019 the outlook for travel was fairly optimistic in comparison to some other major sectors. It was at a place of maturity in customer experience, using the ability to emotionally and personally connect, whilst leveraging consumer behaviours to create buy in and deliver enhanced customer journeys.

Some disruption was evident, including financial fragility caused by the emergence of new players and go-between providers, like AIrBnB, and also a growing interest in personalised, sustainable eco-tourism. Both factors were impacting on the traditional value, luxury and price based market. Plus, technology was giving regional providers global reach, and bricks and mortar travel retailers were being challenged by digital startups.

The arrival of COVID-19 increased existing pressures, while lockdown and flight bans created income stasis and refund deficits. Cost sustainability is now a huge factor, especially for standalone venues and cases where low operating margins coincide with high cost distribution or intermediation, with go-betweens and resellers draining income flows.

What's next?

Thankfully, the industry is trading again, but the extended airline recovery period is likely to create immediate price hikes and a lack of availability in the leisure market. For business travellers and the corporate market, this recovery will be much longer.

We can expect short term growth in domestic markets, as people have less money and opportunity for international journeys. With global destinations limited, travel will become a simpler more meaningful and relationship-based activity. Lasting consumer trends will result, including a renewed interest in sustainable tourism and purposeful, enriching travel.

Two segments are emerging: The smaller, local, mid-market meaningful avenues for travel, versus luxury propositions. As companies jostle for space in this new world, mature customer service will be vital. But, there is a substantial learning curve required to develop as a seasoned customer advisor, with the depth of understanding needed covering the sector, brand and processes.

In tandem with the rise of homeworking, leisure travel will become blended with business needs, creating the new concept of ‘Bleisure’. Put simply, the human experience of travel and the need for personal contact and connection will be at the forefront of all these changes, and will be increasingly valued and promoted.

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.

 


Identity verification meets our KYC proven strategies

Fraud and economic crime rates remain on record highs, negatively impacting many companies than ever before. And if you thought the pandemic would slow down the online fraudsters, it has in fact created an opportunity for them. Criminals are now capitalizing on the current situation to further commit financial scams. With surgical masks and other medical amenities in high demand, fake shops, email addresses, social media accounts and websites allegedly offering these items, have surged online.

blog KYC
Common fraud scenarios in business…

  • Business identity theft – when perpetrators open business accounts under the names of legitime existing companies.
  • Phishing – when hackers impersonate a trusted vendor to convience you to authorize a financial transaction.
  • Shell companies – firms that are purposefully set up with the objective of commiting fraud. Such companies never provide a product or service, but rather use their companies to launder money.
  • Voicemail message scam – is a more recent means of businesses fraud which involves a voicemail that is delivered via e-mail. While at first glance the e-mail appears to be official, it normally has malware attached to it.
  • Invoice fraud – from false invoices that lack a corresponding product or service to inflated invoices where the reported expenses are higher than the actual costs, companies face a myriad of wrong invoicing fraud schemes.

And because many global organizations often handle numerous monthly supplier payments, cybercriminals continue to take advantage of the susceptibility that exists. The damage is estimated at $63,000 in 87% of companies who earn an annual revenue of more than $1 Billion. (Source: KPMG – nsknox.net).

With over 10 years of experience since our founding, our team is made up of 450 KYC experts who are spread around five EU countries. Until now, we have served over 100 customers in various sectors such as Banking & Insurance, Gaming, Marketplaces, Real Estate and verified millions of documents.

Why us?...

Our solutions
Using our KYC solutions, we provide instant customer verification through enriching technology with a human touch.Our wide-ranging portfolio is designed and customized to match your business and industry needs. Our solution entails a mix of manual and digitalized processes which provides instant online customer identification and ID verification for B2C businesses.

Our approach
And just like we mentioned in our previous blog about the importance of using AI and humans in content moderation, combining the human touch with technology is equally important in the verification procedure. The innovative technology that KYC uses, accelerates activation, enhances customer experience and decreases fraud. Our best-in-class Application Programing Interfaces (APIs) are enriched with teams of experts who focus on value-adding customer interactions.

Our process
From complex to simple documents, our systems scan and verify all types of files such as, IDs, driving licenses, proof of address, pay slips, legal status bank details etc. The automatic extraction and authentication of data is enhanced with manual intervention from our Subject matter Experts.

Our risk mitigation
In order to stay compliant with the Anti Money Laundering (AML) and CTF rules, part of our obligation is to certify that customers are the people they claim to be. And for us to mitigate the risks, we use Realtime Name Check against sanction lists, Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) and Interpol. Project implementation is also backed up with compliance expert advises.

Our technology
The best-in-class deployment of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technologies ensures that the verification process is steadfast. We collect E-signatures as well as enable video streaming capabilities. Additionally, our API is connected to multiple external databases.

Our services
Apart from our Know Your Customer services, we also offer Know Your Business (KYB) where we offer a full range of services that help you better identify your B2B partners during their digital onboarding process. Our KYB service is compliant with international regulations and ensures higher transformation rates, increased performance and stronger security.

Moreover, with our Know Your Employee (KYE) system we have developed an innovative candidate onboarding platform enabling faster, more secured, and more efficient recruitment process. Finally, we design bespoke Remediation processes helping our customers to comply with regulation by collecting, updating, and verifying end user data. We are able to process very large data basis and thanks to our inbound and outbound calling capacity, we manage to drastically improve positive Remediation rates.

What is the main challenge and how does KYC overcome it

Main issue is to be able to externalize the end to end KYC process and not only part of it. Many software providers propose automatic identification processes leaving customers to manually carry out fallback tasks in order to complement the technology when automatic ID verification fails. This creates complexity and hinders a seamless customer journey.

Webhelp unique combination of technology and manual fallback ensures 100% accurate and definitive decision on identification process, leaving high value added tasks and business decision to the customers. Low value added tasks and upfront verifications are done on Webhelp side, providing an end to end verification process. Our clients can thus concentrate on their core business relying on our proven dual verification approach.

Would you like to also benefit from our expertise in this field? Get in touch with our expert via LinkedIn - Hervé De kermadec President Webhelp KYC, or via E-mail on herve.dekermadec@webhelp.com.


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.

 

 

 


How AI is changing the retail experience

As part of our #servicereimagined series, Helen Murray, Chief Customer Solutions Officer for the UK Region, looks at how Artificial Intelligence is influencing the retail sector, how it is being used to leverage new customer service models and why brands must evolve to embrace this unstoppable wave, or risk falling behind the curve.

Whilst I love a good movie, the fictional relationship with Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not a happy one – and almost universally results in a troubled experience for the human! The silver screen, and latterly the internet, often warns of the dangers of pitting man against machine, but in reality AI has seamlessly, quietly and unobtrusively embedded itself into our daily lives.

AI shares our homes, guides us when we travel, takes our selfie when we socialise and influences our retail and leisure activities, and it may well have become the most indispensable tool of the 21st century.

Beyond the media tropes, today AI is firmly focused on problem solving, by making millions of decisions at a basic level without human intervention. Machine learning allows processes to adjust to new inputs, and avoid pitfalls based on experience. Essentially it uses multi-layered data analysis to predict patterns and, in some cases, to uncover and direct customer behaviours.

It is much simpler, more benign and much, much more useful to business than its movie counterpart.

Dave Pattman, Director of CX Services at Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group, sheds some light on this when he says;

“Whilst AI is everywhere, most experts agree that business is currently using the narrowest point in the definition, by enhancing brand delivery with mathematics, statistics, machine learning, deep learning and big data. However, even in its simplest form AI is making a radical difference, and is visually in our daily lives in our smart home device functions, autonomous vehicles and predictive text.”

 “AI solutions are being developed in a broad range of sectors, and will inevitably be used for common business tasks like auto classification and recommendation services, which will streamline operations and drive revenue. However, the real benefit will come to those business that combine next level AI technology with the right skilled personnel – and use this to stimulate and track consumer emotions!”

But what does AI mean for retailers?

Both physical and virtual retailers could see a benefit of integrating AI into their processes, to improve task management and customer insight. As we reported in our blog on the future of retail post COVID-19, shoppers will be looking for a more experiential real journey, and traditional brick and mortar enterprises will have to work harder to compete. As the storefront.com magazine reports:

“Brands need to reimagine the total in-store experience, and technology is key. In-store technologies must be able to solve business processes and incorporate planning and strategy, rather than just implementing flashy, PR-driven technology. It’s crucial that retailers effectively merge technology and function, which is why AI is at the forefront of in-store tech.”

However, I believe that it is in customer service management where AI has the most significant potential for change, gathering detailed customer patterns and preferences, capturing both short term consumer market fluctuations and informing longer term business planning.

As AI grows more and more prevalent, at Webhelp we are also exploring language processing for the purposes of automation, as Chris Bryson, Webhelp Global Data & Analytics Director explains:

“The direct interaction between customer and machine is allowing us to analyse conversations, at scale, and to make recommendations. We have developed own speech and text analytics engine, which we apply to agent and automated customer conversations.

At Webhelp, this is deployed to drive efficiency in our measurement of quality and to create CX improvements through actionable Voice of The Customer analytics”

When intelligent algorithms are used to process customer and sales data, there is a wealth of actionable and valuable information to be discovered. Intelligent chat bots, voice analytics and word recognition are also changing the game for retail customer service. And, as David Turner, Webhelp CEO for the UK region, Webhelp are at the forefront:

“We have already made significant investments in our digital and automation capabilities to help clients improve customer experience and reduce costs using digital self-service, and leverage technologies such as chatbots to reduce volumes of non-complex and low value interactions. At the same time, we are identifying where human support adds value to digital experiences. Providing guidance and support to customers during high value, complex and emotionally important journeys.”

These technologies are unavoidable, and brands must learn how best to use them to their advantage, as Craig Gibson Chief Commercial Officer Webhelp UK recognises:

“As the urgency for change and transformation intensifies in the post COVID landscape, some pivotal questions will be raised: 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?”

To discover more about how to leverage customer service models in this new world, I would suggest that you read our new Whitepaper, a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, on Reimagining service for the new world, which 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.