The DSA – a newfound content moderator

Strengthening the responsibility towards online platforms, the DSA could be the newfound content moderator.

As the digital economy continues to grow and evolve rapidly, it becomes more imperative for platforms to manage the content they have on their websites.

The Digital Services Act (DSA) is part of the EU’s digital strategy to regulate the online ecosystem. Clarifying rules that propose a new liability framework for online platforms and the content hosted on their sites.

We could wonder – “How does this differ to GDPR?”: GDPR aims to protect customers’ personal data at the forefront of every business. It is the EU legislation that regulates how organizations use personal data, but it does not regulate the content that is shown online to customers. This is where the DSA comes into action.

The European Commission announced the DSA as being a package formed of two pillars proposing the following new frameworks:

  1. New rules framing the responsibilities for digital services – protecting customers in the digital ecosystem when it comes to user-generated content and new risks that may arise on these platforms
  2. Ex-ante rules for large online platforms that act as gatekeepers to ensure platforms act fairly and challenged by new entrants – the market stays competitive and innovative, so customers get the widest choice.

This is not to say it does not come with its own limitations and challenges. These new provisions can facilitate users to identify issues and risks that is indistinct with the current regulations. It augments more attention to platforms’ guidelines and safety measures.

It is crucial these online intermediaries take responsibility and introduce trained content moderators to avoid these potential faults.

Growing liability for online platforms and digital gatekeepers

Online intermediaries have been protected by the e-Commerce Directive against content liability, enabling these providers to establish their own content moderation regulations.

Social media is one of the most popular ways for users to spend their time and engage with people. It has become an integrated communication tool for people to connect with others and express public opinions. From their personal views in politics or about a product they recommend (49% of consumers depend on influencers recommendations on social media according to Oberlo). Statista states Facebook has 2.7 billion monthly active user’s vs Instagram with 1 billion monthly active users.

Social media user-generated content statistics show daily:

  • Every 60 seconds there are more than 317,000 status updates and 54,000 links shared on Facebook
  • 94 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram

The virality of content can be constructive as well as destructive. With the current regulation for the interdependence of these large platforms, it does not allow for legal reprisals and liability.

According to the DSA, a new standard for large platforms that act as digital gatekeepers will attempt to impose tech regulators with the power to enforce rules where content could be deemed illegal or inflammatory. Creating a fairer, and more competitive market for online platforms in the EU.

Implementing these new standards requires content management services to support focusing on the right content for your business. Poorly handled owned content can be pernicious and potentially discriminating.

Adapting the DSA on a global scale

Online platforms are key drivers of digital trade, innovation, and globalization.

The EU is an attractive market that was the motivation for GDPR scope to become transnational as compliance is required when companies encounter EU citizens personal data. Consequently, forcing international firms to adapt to these regulations.

As with the DSA, the intention is to improve the supervision on digital services and to help protect EU citizens across the single market.

The framework offers benefits to sellers and consumers, with an attraction to different gatekeepers in the market as the digital ecosystem continues to grow and broaden its reach. The DSA introduces broad derogations for members discretion – the UK is not obliged to follow these regulations due to Brexit, as the UK’s transition period ends before 2020. Nonetheless, this package requires harmonization between the UK, EU, and even international platforms to obtain the balance of legal protection of responsibilities to protect its customers.

Our services

The DSA invites more regulation for online platforms, but this cannot be transformed in the current way content is moderated. It requires dexterity and vigour.

Putting our people and our clients at the heart to ensure we build trust, and a safe user experience is part of our think-human approach – 74% of our operators recommend Webhelp as an employer (NPS). Our teams are trusted to detect and assess issues for user generated content with our content moderators, as well as finding the right content for your brand with our content management service. We have managed 1 billion pieces of content in 25 languages every year with flexible operations onsite and homeworking. This role is time-consuming and requires attentiveness, so it is important for us to provide our content moderators with mental health support.

We focus on our robust processes and in-house technological solutions to ensure a smooth delivery of outcomes and a high productivity rate to deliver on objectives.

Are you interested in how the DSA may affect your organization? Talk to us today about how Webhelp’s Content Management services can help you.


OneShot - Three opinions

Hervé Rigault, Director General for France of Netino by Webhelp

Herve-Picture

The notion of a key opinion leader is coming back into fashion. Previously, this role was held by journalists, speakers, analysts, etc. Yet, on the one hand, journalists no longer have the time to do research and, on the other, many experts lack neutrality. This is because influencers have learned to establish themselves with solid audiences, mainly thanks to blogs and curation, but also thanks to social media. This phenomenon is seen in both B2C and B2B. LinkedIn’s recent and considerable development, for example, is a result of its transformation: this social network has become a very influential social media platform. So it is no longer enough to be an expert to become an influencer; you have to have a vision, a certain talent for expression, a taste for sharing, a dynamic network, etc. Brands can profit from it, through attentive listening.

 

Jérémy Rodney, Head of Digital Content & Social Media Bouygues Telecom

At Bouygues Telecom, influencer marketing started in 2013, with 4G. We had to spread the word about its high data speeds, relying on the power of recommendations from a few influencers. First we targeted gamers, big bandwidth consumers and their subscribers. Today, the use of influencers is ingrained in our media campaigns. We don’t use nano-influencers, they are too complex to manage with our services and products. When we have a reach objective, we look for macro-influencers. And to find more engagement, and oproduce original content, we work more and more with middle or micro-influencers. Adults, parents, seniors, etc. All age ranges are represented; the palette of influencers has become very large and diverse.

 

Jeroen Dijkema, CEC Cluster Lead Europe Unilever (Rotterdam)

Unilever has a vast galaxy of agribusiness brands of international renown. Some of these brands have strong local ties. On an international or local level, we reach out to influencers with three goals in mind: to develop brand reputation, deliver messages on specific brands and test certain new products. The authenticity of these influencers is a criteria for selection, since our products are built on data that reflects the needs of the consumer, but they are also a societal goal. Mainly on Instagram and Facebook, we reach out to macro or micro-influencers.

Read the full article

OneShot – Hashtag #TrustYourInfluencer

Your brand? Your products? It’s the influencers that talk about them best. In any case, they are better understood by your target market. Here are three tips for working well with them.
1. Consider the influencer to be a true partner.

Everything starts with a good collaboration with them. A good partnership isn’t simply asking an influencer to showcase your product to their followers. This way of looking at it - as forming a human sandwich with the brand - is inefficient, even counter-productive. Today, influencers ask to include the spirit of the brand. Therefore, the influencer should be seen as a consultant for communicating on social media, and not as a simple megaphone. So, the entire challenge is first in identifying which influencers will be the most suitable with respect to the brand’s objectives. The error generally lies in always working with the same pool of influencers and reasoning quantitively based on the number of followers accumulated. It is better to customise together, that is to have a very qualitative and individualised approach based on legitimacy.

2. Let yourself be influenced by your influencers.

In general, brands assume a risk when they express themselves on social media. Trolls will find something there to vent about... The goal of collaborating with an influencer is to create a message that will be appreciated by their community – by relying on their legitimacy and expertise. This opens new doors for the brand, and therefore the brand finds new playing fields and new forums in which to express themselves. In a nutshell, influence allows brands to have a voice accepted by a
community, rather than top-down. The influencer knows their community perfectly well: they are the only person who knows whether or not they will be on board. Therefore, it is better to listen to them and trust them! Particularly as many of them are born communicators...

3. To generate engagement, favour micro-influencers.

On social networks, in order to add a human dimension to the relationship with the brand, it is wise to switch to micro-influencers instead of working with a ‘face of the brand’. Admittedly, the latter option is historically ingrained and it allows brand legitimacy to be established. But today, it is engagement that becomes the main challenge –moreover, platforms are constantly improved to favour it. Once you have set yourself a goal for engagement or ROI, it is better to work closely with micro-influencers, who are involved and relevant, even those with ‘only’ 3,000 to 5,000 followers. Legitimacy is key. A macro-influencer like Bixente Lizarazu, for example, could also be considered a micro-influencer for cycling, which he is a huge fan of!

An article by Ludovic Chevallier, Head of Havas Paris Social.

 

“Be a fan of your fans by making them heroes of your story.”

Mark Schaefer, author of Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins


Content Moderation - why every boomtown needs a sheriff!

As online engagement will be the next boomtown for customer experience, Andrew Hall, Director of Strategic Engagements, Webhelp UK region, looks at the future of this new frontier and how content moderation will be critical to protect brands and users.

Andrew Hall - content moderation boomtown - Twitter

Back in 1996, when the internet and social media as we know it now was pure science fiction, Bill Gates wrote a pivotal essay entitled ‘Content is King’ saying:

“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.” And he realised the new freedom for self-expression that this would provide by adding; “One of the most exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create.”[1]

Fast forward to today, and across every conceivable social platform, the internet is now heaving with content marketing – from thought leadership, brand videos, sponsorship, influencer tie-ins and stories promoting everything from consumer goods to dating services.

And, accelerated by the physical limitations introduced by COVID-19, this new digital frontier is still growing. In the UK for example, in June 2020 Ofcom reported a substantial rise in the incidence of social media accounts on platforms like WhatsApp (70%, up from 61% in 2018), Instagram (43%, up from 38% in 2018), and YouTube (42%, up from 35% in 2018).[2]

And although the shadow cast by the mountain of Facebook (forecast to hit 1.7 billion users worldwide by the close of 2020) continues to dominate this landscape, it now shares engagement time with multiple platforms.

So, it’s clear that navigating this expanding territory could be a rough ride for many companies, with this gold-rush of new users, bringing fresh disruptions and challenges.

We know that it is vitally important to reach your customers where there are most active, and as McKinsey reports, that is now online:

“Demand patterns have shifted. Overall online penetration in China increased by 15–20 percent. In Italy, e-commerce sales for consumer products rose by 81 percent in a single week, creating significant supply-chain bottlenecks. Customers need digital, at-home, and low-touch options. Digital-led experiences will continue to grow in popularity once the coronavirus is quelled, and companies that act quickly and innovate in their delivery model to help consumers navigate the pandemic safely and effectively will establish a strong advantage.”[3]

It’s clear that any new delivery model must include Content Moderation, and as digital-experiences assume more importance in our lives, user-generated content (UGC) will undoubtedly continue to grow in impact and variety.

In simple terms, content moderation helps companies monitor, analyse and respond to UGC including comments, reviews, videos, social media posts or forum discussions, using predefined criteria and legal boundaries to establish suitability for publication.

As Webhelp Group Senior Director of Content Management and Moderation Solutions, Chloé de Mont-Serrat, explains:

“Leveraging user-generated content is fast becoming a powerful and flexible tool to raise brand recognition and enhance customer trust, especially in the booming e-commerce industry. Consumer content is instrumental in influencing both purchase decision making and in the uptake, visibility and popularity of brands online.”

“However, despite these benefits, utilising externally produced content is not without risk, especially for companies that are unaware of the detrimental impact this can have on the user perspective of the brand if not properly managed.”

Source: Content Moderation for Dating Applications

And the danger is that, when left unmanaged UGC can permanently damage brand reputation and revenues, leaving the barn door open for harmful content like flame wars, online abuse, mounting customer complaints, unsuitable imagery, fake news, fraud and cyber bulling. Not to mention clearing the field for automated spam content, troll farms and false reviews. 

Controlling and making the most of this vitally important demographic is where, much like a local sheriff looking after the townsfolk and wellbeing of the community, content moderation becomes key to creating healthy, responsive two-way engagement that benefits the brand and protects all the users.

The research article ‘Re-humanizing the platform: Content moderators and the logic of care’ describes content moderators as;

“The hidden custodians of platforms, the unseen and silent guardians who maintain order and safety by overseeing visual and textual user-generated content.”[4]

The report highlights, as we believe at Webhelp, that thinking human and maintaining empathy and insight, should be a critical and creative factor in current and future platform arrangements.

Webhelp’s recent research paper Reimagining Service for the New World a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, spotlights the tensions and challenges between the need to be simultaneously both more digital and more human. As companies are increasingly being tasked to deliver seamless, technology-enabled, and experience-led service across multiple channels, while demonstrating transparency and creating genuine and deep emotional connections with customers.

And, with 78% of leaders agreeing that customers will be paying much closer attention to their business practices, maintaining a human face online, especially in reacting to confrontational or illegal content, will become more important than ever.

At Webhelp we are passionate about supporting our clients through their content moderation challenges, and have guided them through a range of topics; such as identifying under-age members, inappropriate images, tackling online harassment and preventing accounts being used as a platform for illegal activity such as scams and fraud.

We protect brand reputation and enhance user experience, mobilising effective and skilled teams with specific sector experience. They utilise both their human judgement and cutting edge analytical services to effectively police and nurture online communities, providing growth for the brand and safety for the user.

Later blogs will focus on specific industry moderation pain points and the best ways to correct them, but for now we leave you with this thought;

“There’s a new sheriff in town – and they’re called called Webhelp!”

 

To discover more about customer experience 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. Or read our new paper exploring the Content Moderation pain points in the Dating application sector and the way towards a more comprehensive and game changing solution.


Whitepaper launch: Reimagining service for the new world

As the urgency for change and transformation intensifies in the post COVID landscape, Craig Gibson CCO for Webhelp UK, shares his thoughts on the launch of a new Whitepaper, a collaboration with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group. 

At Webhelp, we have a commitment to use customer experience management to create positive and emotionally significant consumer/client relationships. Many of our previous blogs have discussed the importance of brand humanity and the how the multitude of emotions consumers experience can influence the customer journey and change attitudes towards companies and brands.

And whilst this remains a clear focus, we can’t ignore the impact that COVID-19 has had on both service delivery and development of the Customer Experience industry.

It is rapidly evolving, and as interactions have by necessity changed, customers’ expectations have shifted and priorities have become significantly different to those that were drafted onto strategic plans at the close of 2019.

We have shared some of the ways we met the immediate challenge of COVID-19, including looking at our strong partnerships with brands like Yodel, but the business world is still adapting to this new way of working, and the way customers have traditionally acted and regarded customer service is changing.

As an industry, brands must understand that the rules have changed, for good.

And I am not alone in believing that customer experience will be pivotal in this future landscape, as Feefo’s CEO, Matt West, agrees saying:

 “I think the ‘new normal’ will be more CX focused than ever. It will be all about fine-tuning right the way through the journey. Before all of this happened, evaluating the customer experience may not have been at the top of many businesses’ to-do lists, whereas this situation has brought the real value of a brand right to the forefront of the consumer’s minds. A refined CX is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s an essential.”[1]

It is time to tear up outdated plans and explore new and evolving needs which will drive future service development and innovation.

To this end, I have joined forces with Mark Palmer, Chief Executive Officer at Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group, as we firmly believe that together we are able to provide a unique perspective.

There is no doubt that the need for transformation will only continue to intensify post COVID, and Mark hits the nail on the head, when he concludes that:

“COVID-19 is having a profound impact globally. Not only is it affecting our health, but it is fundamentally challenging and altering our political, social, and economic norms.”

And as our normal shifts, some key questions must be answered:

  • 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?

Our new Whitepaper, combining Webhelp’s expertise in global customer management with Gobeyond Partners’ Customer journey design and transformation experience is called Reimagining service for the new world. It provides a clear framework, or roadmap, for tomorrow’s successful customer-focused operating models and is backed by the latest exclusive research from over 500 business leaders.

There is something wonderful about looking at the right map to explore the road ahead, as:

“Maps are like campfires – everyone gathers around them, because they allow people to understand complex issues at a glance, and find agreement.”[2]

We hope that launch of this Whitepaper will provide the stimulus for many further blogs and events, and I would like to personally invite you to keep the campfire of innovation burning and join the Reimagining service for the new world mailing list, by connecting on LinkedIn and by becoming part of our future conversation. We’d love to hear what you think the future holds.

[1] www.dma.org.uk

[2] www.sonomaecologycenter.org


The importance of remaining human, in the switch to digital learning

The business challenge facing the Webhelp UK Operational Learning and Development (Ops L&D) team, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was truly exceptional. Here, Declan Hogan Director of Operational L&D, UK region, reveals how they transformed their strategy while thinking human and what plans they are making for the future.

In March 2020, upon observing the initial impact of COVID, our team faced an unprecedented demand; to deliver an overarching vision of safe, accessible, viable training - available at speed and at scale.

As a people-first business, colleague well-being was a driving principle, and as pre-COVID, virtual training made up no more than 5% of delivery, we knew that we had to rapidly increase our online service to both protect and inform our employees.

This was to be no small task, as the team operates across 25 sites covering 3 major geographic regions; the UK, South Africa and India. We deliver L&D to 11,000 people across 32 different client campaigns, encompassing a diverse range of cultures, sectors, scales and approaches. We focus on our 9000 frontline advisors, via a fraternity of circa 100 trainers, facilitators, L&D consultants and development specialists.

The Webhelp vision is to ‘make business more human’, so we knew we had to swiftly implement a comprehensive change of direction in strategy and delivery, in a relevant, but above all ‘human’ and accessible way.

We needed a reframed game-plan to meet the considerable demand of the many more employees working from home. With intelligent work force management, access to a daily War Room (to engage, inform and learn from senior leaders) and a freshly developed playbook, using an agile 5DI mythology, we understood the differing circumstances of our colleagues and designed tailored virtual sessions and digital learning spaces to meet their needs.

In just 14 days we achieved:

  • 100% online learning delivery for over 8,000 people working from home
  • Over 50 Webhelp trainers upskilled into a virtual environment
  • 85 core digital learning modules and 25 Digital Compliance Courses ready to deploy

And, our people responded with employee satisfaction scores of around 90%. During the COVID crisis we welcomed 5 new partners in retail, tele-co and key services and our learning team have been consistently central to speed and success.

Our programs and modules broke down existing physical training into short impactful interventions, supported with self-directed guides, an information portal, webinars and video and focused on key themes of communication and well-being and resilience

We used creative design solutions like gamification and split screen technology to engage, test, recognise and reward. Plus, we developed a virtual ‘hot seat’ environment and a soft go live to ease ‘call shock’ for new advisors. And, it was also crucial to invest time to skill the front-line trainers to deliver virtually. We made this real-world with a psychological contract between facilitator and learner that this is not training ‘as usual’: signal will drop, kids will interrupt, pets will make noise etc.

Alongside all of this, a constant dialogue was maintained with each client, keeping them at the heart of all activity, strong relationships based on trust and transparency were built, each playing a part in the decision-making process. You can read more about our partnership strategy in this interview with Yodel. who share their high level of satisfaction with our approach during COVID-19.

So, by necessity, but with insight, the ‘classroom only’ model rapidly evolved and 100% online delivery became standardised and transferable across all of our regions. Although our entire L&D catalogue can now be delivered online, a decision tree process is in place to establish if training should be virtual, blended or face to face.

Looking to the future

Reacting to the COVID crisis gave the world an unmistakable virtual capability call to action, however, our team were ahead of the game with an established L&D strategy for 2020 which had already initiated the clear and strategic goal of increasing the self-learning/digital proposition to enable learning anywhere.

Whilst the crisis has given us the stimulus to test, learn and roll out a virtual model, the focus has now began to shift to blended learning - drawing the best from both virtual and face to face approaches.

As part of our half yearly reflections, each training manager is presenting (via case studies) successes and suggestions on how to improve our new methodologies.

Online learning is growing in both sophistication and popularity, but it should never lose the human touch - as FutureLearn CEO Simon Nelson, who previously led the BBC’s transition from analogue to digital, remarks:

“The integration of digital technology into education has had a profound impact, opening up distribution globally and allowing flexible, on-demand, around-the-clock services for learners. It also connects us to vast stores of information.

However, skills like emotional intelligence, creativity, resilience, conflict resolution, or leadership will never go out of fashion. As technology continues to redefine the world of work, the traits that make us human will remain as important as ever”

Source: Britishcouncil.org

Webhelp is an intrinsically human company – a global melting pot of passionate individuals who actively want to change the game, to really make a difference in the lives of the people and business they work with.  I am incredibly proud of the agility and creativity of my team and how they remained focused and supportive during difficult times.

Our vision and culture will act as a compass to guide the next generation of people-centric learning, and we will keep challenging the status-quo to be the forefront of new thinking, now and in the future.


How the Yodel and Webhelp partnership faced the challenge of COVID-19

Partnership is a huge part of the way we deliver services at Webhelp, and one of our four cultural pillars is to put the client at the heart. Here we explore the strong collaborative approach that was undertaken during the COVID crisis with Yodel, a key logistics client for Webhelp. Joining the discussion were Michaela Simpson, Head of Customer Experience at Yodel, Kellyann McCafferty, Account Director at Webhelp and Cobus Crous, Head of Operations for Webhelp in India and SA.

Yodel is one of the UK’s largest delivery companies for B2C orders, serving many of the country’s leading retailers. Webhelp and Yodel have been working together since 2015, and have built up a strong alliance providing outstanding customer service management, which is delivered from Webhelp’s offshore locations in South Africa and India.

What was the starting position of the logistics industry, and Yodel’s outlook before COVID?

Michaela Simpson (Yodel):

We were just coming out of a very successful peak period, the six weeks over Christmas, is traditionally one of the highest delivery periods for the consumer market. Logistics is a highly competitive sector and as an innovative carrier, our efforts were focused on continuing to build a forward-thinking technology roadmap. We were in the enviable position of having well-established, technical and highly skilled operational and management teams in place, and an exceptionally in depth understanding of the day to day working of the business.

Do you have any feedback on what Webhelp were doing well before COVID hit?

Michaela Simpson (Yodel):

Everything.

Together we had had a run of at least three, if not four really strong quarters. And, this success can be measured by the fact that Yodel have been awarding Webhelp service credits for great delivery at the end of each quarter.

Like any partnership, you can drill down into detail to find areas to challenge, which is simply good practice. But, in my opinion, we had the strongest people we’ve ever had  and overall we were very pleased.

Do you have anything to share on the operational approach during COVID, for example how and when our partnership reacted – any stand out examples, or challenges?

Michaela Simpson (Yodel)

One stand out during the COVID crisis would be, just as we approached Easter, Yodel were awarded a UK government contract to collect COVID tests for the NHS, seven days a week. Webhelp delivered an eight person team specifically trained to support this essential service. We went from concept to go live in less than a week! They did an absolutely fantastic job delivering the first campaign and we now have two more on the horizon.

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

But there were challenges, and they were different depending on the country in question. In India, a curfew was announced on the 14th of March, and then the lockdown was announced on Mothers Day on Sunday the 22nd of March, one of Yodel’s busiest trading days of the year! We then had four hours to deliver desktops & laptops to our employees who were without access to technology. Working swiftly, our teams successfully managed to complete all actions on time and in line with the Indian Government regulations.

In South Africa, shortly before the formal lockdown announcement on the 23rd of March, we conducted an initial employee survey to understand the potential challenge of the home situation for our advisors in terms of WIFI, hardware, infrastructure and so on.

A staggered approach was then used to move our people to either supported homeworking, or for the small group where this was not suitable due to not having an appropriate home environment, supported working from a hotel venue.

The hotel solution was an industry first, which showed not only the strength in our partnership to act quickly and decisively around commercials and logistics, but also highlighted the commitment and dedication our people have towards Webhelp and Yodel.

Our advisors left their families and loved ones for 21 days, without hesitation, to support customers and clients from a hotel room during a very uncertain period. This is testament to our values and how our wonderful employees live the Yodel brand.

Michaela Simpson (Yodel):

Yes, the Indian lockdown happened incredibly quickly. And then South Africa was hot on its heels. One of the strengths we shared collaboratively was the ability to make some very decisive and quick decisions on how we were going to operate. This allowed Webhelp to deploy a robust plan at speed, which has been really successful, particularly in India, and remains so now.

Understandably, there were technical challenges to overcome, early in the process but, I think if you were a Yodel customer you probably wouldn't have noticed a significant difference.

We made the pragmatic, but firm decision to move away from phone services to Web chat until early August, and to manage that message to our consumers. Clear joint action gave us the freedom to plan our campaigns together, knowing the road ahead and the expected timeline.

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

This helped make sure that in a short space of time all our people, in both locations, were up and running from home, or hotel based – and while we appreciate the sacrifices our advisors made, the feedback was that they were delighted to carry on representing the Yodel brand during a difficult period, and maintained high enthusiasm in delivering great service.

Cobus Crous (Webhelp):

Absolutely. Taken together across the Webhelp estate, in both India and South Africa, Yodel was one of the accounts that were 100% operational within a 72-hour window.

And I think that's quite an achievement on its own.

Personally, I'm exceptionally proud of how my team reacted, to what was a very scary and unsettling scenario. Their attitude was: “OK, we're going for it, we're going to solve it!” From the moment they got their PC’s, they unpacked, connected and were ready to work the next morning! And I think that was remarkable, just how well they moved with the change. Our people are such a big part of this story.

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

In fact, this shows great resilience, as they were quickly functioning above normal business levels, when COVID actually brought much larger parcel volumes than usual.

Michaela Simpson (Yodel):  

Yes, interestingly, at Yodel we were initially concerned about the negative impact COVID could have on online retail, which forms a substantial part of our business.

However, the reality was completely different. China came out of lockdown just as Europe went into it, and the expected disruption to the global manufacturing industry didn’t impact us. Suddenly home shopping habits changed completely, so we have been effectively running at peak operation, which we usually spend a significant part of the year planning and laying out logistics for.

And we managed to switch this on in a just a few hours. And since then we have maintained very, very high numbers, well above our plan!

Webhelp is a people first organisation with a commitment to make business more human, did this approach effect delivery?  

Michaela Simpson (Yodel)

In the logistics industry, it's easy for us to think in operational terms, but despite the fact that we had to make some very critical business decisions, together we have considered and prioritised the people side of our partnership. This went above the usual checks and balance for any business and has come through very strongly from the Webhelp operational teams at a grass roots level.

Thoughts for the future?   

Kellyann McCafferty (Webhelp):

With Yodel, we are building a highly proactive approach to contact and delivery, which benefits from the joint operational traits of flexibility, clarity of decision making and the right balance between people and technology.

Our partnership will continue to change the way that brands look at outsourced customer service for the logistics sector, both during this crisis and as we move towards a more stable future.


Outsourcing content moderation: adding value to first and third parties with a human first approach

What are the main issues with content moderation today?

A recent report published by NYU, shows that there is over 3 billion pieces of content on Facebook (in the first quarter of 2020) that is the responsibility for content moderators to check; remove or provide a warning ‘cover’ of disturbing content before viewing.

Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg recently reported in a 2018 Whitepaper , Facebook’s review teams “make the wrong call in 1 out of 10 cases”, which can be a result of relying on AI to identify harmful content, or the pressure and lack of training with moderators.

With this type of role, comes a great deal of pressure and responsibility to ensure the safety of the community, 24/7 (2.6 billion active users daily).

One of the main issues content moderators face today, is the hundreds of items they are required to moderate within a six to eight-hour shift.    Therefore, expertise is essential, as it is up to content moderators to act with governance to uphold high standards. Content is not responsible of the platform,  this is the freedom users have for ‘free speech’, but the onus is on the moderators to control obscenity showcased to them.

Subsequently, the second issue is the pressure of fulfilling these number of items to moderate. Setting high targets and efficiency rates can prove to be unattainable and have the consequences of diminished performance and mental health and wellbeing.

Recommendations from NYU

The NYU report discusses recommendations major social media platforms can do to improve their content moderation.

While the main theme of the article is constructed on the basis “A call for outsourcing”, we can conversely demonstrate outsourcing is instrumental to content moderation, moreover how we align with these recommendations outlined in the report.

Human first approach when outsourcing content moderation

At Webhelp, we know many mistakes have been done concerning content moderation services, therefore we decided when we entered this ‘community service’, to adopt a completely different approach - 74% of our operators recommend Webhelp as an employer (NPS).

Investing in people

A human first approach to content moderation is Webhelp’s understanding that people’s mental health and wellbeing is not to be disregarded when managing afflictive content.

Wellness is our differentiator, enabled through our Webhealth Wellness Programme:

  • Mental Health Awareness training is provided for managers to recognise symptoms of stress, and the coping mechanisms to support colleagues
  • providing a safe, working environment to ensure colleagues have a sense of security, trust, and reliability.
  • access to certified Psychologists, councillors, and trained coaches to support content moderators with mental, physical, financial, and nutritional health.

Wellbeing Analytics to take proactive action

As part of our approach to content moderators and their mental health, we monitor their performance using Wellbeing Analytics.

Using this tool enables us to identify issues through a combination of observing colleagues, using data analytics and machine learning for proactive action.

Team leaders and coaches will have daily updates on colleagues MTI score which indicates how colleagues are performing and  , identify ; this allows supervisors to take appropriate actions to support them, for example, reworking a shift or allow for longer breaks - 100% of our operators moderating sensitive content have shorter shifts which achieves up to 4 points of attrition reduction.

Improving content moderation

Managing content moderation is not to be taken lightly. It requires expertise and knowledge about this area and understanding there is a balance between the impact it has on individual’s wellbeing and the value it adds to first and third parties.

Outsourcing for content moderation is a way in which social media companies can employ experts within that field to deliver outcomes and improve performance.

As NYU have reported, content moderation should not be outsourced because it lacks on moderator’s health and wellbeing.

As we have demonstrated above, we have a strong focus on this. Not all outsourcing is conducted by ‘customer service centres’ that exploit their team without support, on the contrary.

Taking a human first approach with our Webhealth programme and Wellbeing Analytics tool enables colleagues to develop their understanding of mental health and is essential in proving a safe, healthy environment for moderators.


Why are human moderators still essential?

Understand the unsaid
Humans remain the best in reading, interpreting and understanding content. Often times AI powered moderation fails to decode hidden meanings. On the other hand, humans are intuitive by nature, they are able to read between the lines and understand straight away. This helps to avoid the wrong flagging of content.

Authentic conversations
Don’t we all want to wow our customers with an exceptional customer experience? And the best way to do that is by creating real conversations with the audience. While AIs are programmed to be more conversational and interactive with customers, they aren’t humans and don’t have feels. They lack the humanity needed to connect with the customers on a personalized and engaging level.

Grasping the context
Taking English as an example, the same word can have different meanings depending on how it is used. Correspondingly, the same image can also have different meanings depending on the context it is used. It would be difficult for AI to determine the motive of a picture even if it detects it. For example, when giving reviews about a weight loss program, a customer may post a partially nude picture. Deciding whether the picture is appropriate or not, would be a challenge for an AI powered system. Contrary to that, a human moderator is able to immediately recognize the improperness of the image and conclude if it is acceptable or not.

Brand reputation
Upholding a good brand reputation is imperative for a company’s continued success. And because we live in an online world, the first place frustrated customers go to vent their disappointment is online. And the last thing such a customer would want is to receive a generic AI canned response. During such instances, humans are the best alternatives as they have the intelligence and know-how to solve such conflicts by even flipping a negative experience to a positive one and living the customer happy and satisfied.

Thanks to technology advancement, AI deep-learning and neural networks have enabled the automation of numerous tasks, such as image classification, speech recognition and natural language processing. In spite of that, AI content moderation is hampered with frequent errors. Even with the training of numerous examples, neural networks are still unreliable to make accurate judgements of cases that appear different from their training data.

Ultimately, effective Content Moderation requires a good mix between a robust AI powered system to instantaneously and correctly filter content without exposing the moderators to sensitive material, handle a massive content volume and also a very  adaptive team of empathetic moderatos with local cultural knowledge to accurately screen borderline user-generated content.


Is the future moderation of social media companies at stake?

§ Section 230
Enacted in 1996, § Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) states that “No provider or user of an internet computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any content provided by a third party". In other words, social media platforms will not be held responsible for content that is hosted on them, except for federal crimes (e.g. terrorism or child abuse)

Passed more than 20 years ago, Section 230 has been the blueprint for the internet we know today. It is a legal framework that heavily relies on user generated content as opposed to the content that companies create. Fundamentally, Section 230 grants the Tech companies immunity from lawsuits regarding the content on their platforms. This gives them the freedom to run their businesses without fear of negative repercussions.

The executive order
Last year in August, President Donald Trump prepared an executive order that would challenge the Federal Communications Commission to create rules that could inhibit the protection of Section 230. This action was not received positively with the legal experts and regulators. Subsequently, the White House seemed to have lost interest and it was tabled until this year in May when it was actively considered following a feud where Twitter flagged Trump’s post as “glorifying violence”. Trump signed the executive order on Thursday 28th of May with the aim of limiting the legal shield that protects the social media platforms from taking liability for user generated content.

Since his inauguration, Trump and his administration believe that social media platforms unfairly censor their content. What added fuel to the fire was when Twitter carried out a fact check of Trump’s posts that disproved his claim about mail-in ballots. This made Trump even more furious and he hastily vowed to make greater regulations concerning social media sites.

Tech companies and industry advocates state that modifying Section 230 alters the original purpose of the act. They further caution that the order which supposedly seeks to protect free speech by stopping the flagging of posts, will actually have the opposite effect.

The impact of Section 230 reform
The implementation of Section 230 depends on an array of Democratic lawmakers, conservative advocacy groups and free-speech activists. The amendment of Section 230 will mean that users will be directed to file their complains to the Federal Trade Commission (FCC) who will investigate to determine whether the platforms rightfully and lawfully flag content. Furthermore, the reform will gain liberty in interpreting the law and compel agencies to follow it rather than the interpretation offered by Congress or the courts.

Facebook’s take on this is that the government could hold tech platforms responsible e.g. by setting a compulsory median response time for removing posts. This would in fact hurt instead of help Content Moderation as they will be under pressure to timely remove the content and hereby stop screening older posts which might leak through despite being inappropriate for the audiences.

Google also denounced the reform by stating that they follow clear content policies and enforce them neutrally without taking any political stand. They continued to add that their platform has empowered many people and organizations by not only giving them a voice, but also creating new ways to reach their audiences. They believe that altering Section 230 will hurt the economy and global leadership on internet freedom.

Twitter proclaimed that the order is a “reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law that was created to protect innovation and freedom of expression underpinned by democratic values. Attempts to unilaterally remodel it threatens internet freedom and the future of online speech.”

The Backlash
A Washington-based tech group filed a lawsuit against President Trump declaring that his order violates the First Amendment which “restricts government officials from using their power to retaliate against an entity or individual for engaging in protected speech”. The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) believes that the target is to chill and curtail free speech which undermines the efforts of social media companies in ensuring their platforms are used responsibly even during elections. The lawsuit comes after a long-standing clash between the social media companies and Trump’s administration.

Many civil rights groups and internet freedom agencies condemn Trump’s order with the co-creator of Section 230 Senator Ron Wyden saying Trump’s action is “plainly illegal”. Facebook also released a statement affirming that the company upholds freedom of expression in their services whilst protecting communities from toxic content including posts designed to stop voters from exercising their voting rights.

Even though Trump’s order hasn’t taken full effect, the modification of Section 230 will most likely have a counterproductive effect that could push the social media companies to impose stricter regulations than before. Ironically, this would hinder Trump who heavily relies on social media to spread his views and statements which are often partly or entirely untrue.