Customer service

Service via different channels – our answer

Becoming a better listener

Vodafone monitors what customers are calling about and how emotional they are about the issue in question on a weekly basis. Based on this information, experienced customer service advisors estimate how many customers are experiencing similar problems. We then endeavour to resolve the complaints by taking specific actions. Customer reactions are subsequently tested via the internet and in our shops. This means that an individual problem is resolved and action is taken in the background to resolve it for a potentially larger group of customers.

Reducing waiting times and improving our service

To cut waiting times, in 2011 we introduced a new system with a larger capacity. Furthermore, we have no longer been assessing our customer service employees based on the speed with which they deal with a call, but on the basis of the Net Promoter Score (NPS). This score is determined by asking customers, immediately after their contact with us, about how strongly they would recommend Vodafone to their family and friends. This gives us an indication of how highly they rated the service provided to them. By linking the personal remuneration of employees to the NPS, we are encouraging them to provide the best possible assistance to customers. The NPS scores of the customer service team as a whole are displayed on video screens in our offices.

During the annual congress of the Customer Service Federation in 2011, the sector signed a letter of intent promising more transparency on customer satisfaction, waiting times and prices.

Providing an insight into waiting times and customer satisfaction

In 2011 we were the first mobile operator in the Netherlands to introduce an online waiting times module. This gives customers an insight into the average waiting time for contacting our customer service call centre and the current e-mail response time over the past half an hour. Customers can therefore see which medium will allow them to contact us most quickly and can decide to call us now, call us later, send an e-mail or contact us via social media. The module was developed on the basis of customer research. In addition, we offer an insight online into our customers' satisfaction with our customer service and into how often a customer's question or problem is completely resolved.

Offering customer service via different channels

For a number of years now Vodafone has been employing a 'multichannel' customer approach. In 2011 we launched a 24/7 Web Crew, which can be contacted via a chat function, the online forum, the Vodafone Hyves and Facebook page, complaints forums and Twitter. Customers can also ask questions or make customer service enquiries in our shops. The Smartphone Crew, which is made up of 140 new employees, operates in 29 shops and mainly focuses on customer service and the customer experience. This means that these employees do not have a sales role. With so many different channels, the challenge for us is to maintain a good overview of the contact made using all these methods. We are keen to improve this further to ensure that customers receive comparable responses via all channels and can switch from one channel to another without problems.

Facts

  • 1,112 employees (880 FTEs): number of employees working in customer service at Vodafone
  • 68,512: number of complaints or questions received over the past financial year. This figure is comparable with the previous year in spite of the increase in the number of customers
  • Most complaints or questions related to: bills, data, roaming & international calls, network coverage, faults & incidents (being unable to call, text, e-mail, etc.) and handset deliveries (order status)
  • 7.1: the rating given for costumer service
  • After they have contacted us by telephone, customers are asked how likely it is that they would recommend Vodafone to their family and friends on the basis of this telephone contact. In March 2011 this score (NPS) was -20 and in March 2012 -10.
  • 45 cents: fixed charge for calling our customer service team
  • 2 minutes: average waiting time in the past financial year

After we have assisted customers over the telephone, we ask them how they rate the service and whether they can explain their answer. A number of customers talk about their positive or negative experiences below. These responses help us to improve the service we provide.

Positive responses

  • “A very competent young man gave us some very good advice on both my and my husband's subscription. Many thanks.”
  • “It was a very pleasant conversation. The person I spoke to on the telephone was extremely helpful and precise and also very friendly, so I am very satisfied.”
  • “The assistance I received was very good. I had some questions about renewing a subscription. I was helped and given a good explanation straight away, and was also offered a solution, so I am extremely satisfied.”
  • “Vodafone really helped me to resolve a major problem. A large sum had been debited from my account due to data traffic that had gone wrong because of a new handset, so I am very happy that this issue has been resolved.”

Negative responses

  • “The service could be improved by giving the customer more information directly, rather than having to constantly switch between various departments and receiving e-mails, which also have to be responded to later. I'd had the problem with the phone for some time and it would be nice to receive information straight away about what is wrong and whether and how it can be resolved.”
  • “The explanation is that we are very dissatisfied about the cancellation of a subscription, which has still not gone through. This has been ongoing since January and each time something is promised but the promise is not kept. We are extremely dissatisfied about this.”
  • “The question I asked was not answered properly. I had a question about my voicemail and the answer I was given was incorrect. The connection was then lost before I had actually been able to resolve the matter properly. Having to wait to get in touch with the same person I had spoken to before is very inconvenient. I also think it is poor that I was not called back.”

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Criteria when choosing a provider

The extent to which consumers take quality of service into account when choosing a provider remains an interesting question. Are the Dutch still guided more by their wallets? Vodafone hopes and expects that aspects other than price, such as quality, sustainability and service, will become more important. We are curious to find out what you think! Let us know via our blog.