Vodafone needs to learn customer service, fast

Written by on April 28, 2016 in Billing & Payments, Opinion with 0 Comments

Boss is not impressed by Mount Everest resumeIt is interesting to note that when it comes to customer scoring of mobile phone companies in the UK, those that have no network come out top. In a recent Ofcom survey, GiffGaff comes out top with 79 percent, four stars for customer service and five stars for value for money.

Vodafone, on the other hand, does not even achieve 50 percent when scored by customers, showing only two stars for value for money. To be fair, it scored three stars for customer service, beating EE and Lebara.

We would, if part of the survey, have scored Vodafone down on customer service, having tried in vain for three years to get the wrong person taken off as the main contact, and we have given up trying to get into our online account to look at devices, bills and such interesting things. We have, in fact, given up ringing them and have adopted the approach that most people, we believe, take. We look at our bank statement and if the Vodafone number is about right, we let it lie.

Vodafone is in trouble with the Regulator for another reason too.

Ofcom has been looking at its billing practices, and has confirmed that it is charging them under a couple of rules. The first says that telecoms companies cannot send a bill out “unless every amount stated in that Bill represents and does not exceed the true extent of any such service actually provided.” Ofcom is also charging Vodafone, perhaps more seriously, under a section that says the company was “engaging in dishonest, misleading or deceptive conduct when selling or marketing such services”.

You have wonder why these things still happen. Is it because of a malfunction in a major systems overhaul? Is it because Vodafone is too focused on their network, which is anyway patchy to say the least?

Or is it that the MVNOs and sub-brands, relieved of having to run a network, can focus on the important things in life, like customers?

For a while now, both telecoms and banking have been making a lot of noise about how important the customer is to them (important, but your wait time is still 45 minutes) and we see no signs of improvement. All we see is increasing frustration and a ‘we’ll just plough on’ mentality. When we wrote about our almost unbelievably bad experience with Lloyds, there were several comments citing similar problems and frustrations. A major theme seems to be that small companies do not have time to fill in endless forms, wait weeks, send them back, put them on the compost heap, dig them up, photocopy them and send them back to the bank for processing. And ringing every two weeks and being put on hold for 45 minutes.

If they are being complacent, it will probably not damage them badly – for a while. But after that while is past, companies that look after the customer first will win. That is why GiffGaff comes first. They have combined a simple site, with a social model and a reward system based on gamification that turned customer service on its head.

Vodafone and others have not.

If these companies have any chance of becoming effective digital telcos, partnering with and fighting off the likes of Google and Facebook, then they need to change now. And as a fundamental, get their billing problem sorted.

We will be amused to see the results of the latest Vodafone gambit which allows anyone to test their 4G network. Anyone outside a major city will be wondering ‘what 4G network?’ We would recommend that they do not try and ring them to ask.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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