Vodafone announces $10 million in new customer service team

Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 10 September 2019, 6:16PM
(Photo / Getty)

"Our service hasn't been good enough for years and it's time to act," Vodafone NZ boss Jason Paris said in a typically candid tweet this morning.

"From October, when you contact us with a complex tech issue, you'll be helped by a new team of New Zealanders who will fix your issue and keep you posted so you won't need to contact us again."

In follow up comments to the Herald, Paris said, "The industry has been falling short for years and we have been a contributor to that. When I took over in November, one of the things customers and staff said they were most unhappy about was service."

"His company's new "X Squad" would address the 30 per cent or so of support calls that can't be resolved first time.

X Squad members will all be New Zealand-based.

Paris says the idea is that "you'll get a dedicated case manager and they will own the issue until it is resolved".

The Vodafone boss promises there'll be no calling back to a general number to repeat yourself to a new customer service rep each time.

Paris also promises that the X Squad will front-foot problems.

"As well as looking after the trickiest problems, they will actively monitor for issues and proactively contact customers if needed," he says.

"They will search for any patterns that might be a systemic problem, and feed insights into other teams responsible for root cause fixes. It's a new way of working for us and one we believe will become a benchmark for service excellence."

The Vodafone boss declined to say how many X Squad members there are, citing commercial confidentiality, but said $10 million was being invested in the initiative.

A parallel initiative will continue to add more automated and online self-help options, "but sometimes you just need to talk to a human," Paris said.

Vodafone NZ underwent a sweeping restructure in the new year, shortly after Paris took the reins.

It was designed to address every aspect of the business as Paris looked to sharpen the bottom line and free up funds to invest in new technology ahead of an anticipated IPO (subsequently headed off when NZ's Infratil and Brookfield Asset Management bought the company).

But Paris also highlighted that sub-par service and support was one point of focus.

At the time, the Unite union claimed a tie-up with outsourcing company Tech Mahindra, which took on some Vodafone staff in Christchurch, would compromise service and support, while the telco emphasised that pay and conditions would be maintained, and that it's first priority was to improve service.

Paris will now have his chance to prove the union wrong.

The Vodafone boss was not alone in saying support was not up to snuff.

The Commerce Commission noted in a report earlier this year that Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees were three of the four most complained-about companies in NZ (the dubious honour of top slot was taken by online ticket seller Viagogo).

Telcos traditionally point to their sheer size, and the fact they often have to carry the can for network operator Chorus, in excusing their habitual presence near the top of the ComCom's charts.

This morning, however, Paris simply said service wasn't good enough and it had to improve.

He said service and support changes were always going to happen, but were easier under the new local ownership, in part because there was more scope for long-term planning.


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