Features | 19 May 2017

Vodafone UK’s customer service awards highlight the progress we’ve made

Neil Blagden, Vodafone UK's Customer Service and Operations Director talks about recent wins at the 2017 UK National Contact Centre Awards and the customer service improvements he’s leading.

By Neil Blagden | Customer Service & Operations Director at Vodafone UK

customer service neil blagden

This week, Vodafone UK won two major customer service awards – both our Social Media and Web Chat teams bagged the Silver at the UK National Contact Centre Awards. I’m incredibly proud of what our teams have achieved, and I’m keen to keep building on the progress we’ve made so far.

I’ll be upfront here – we’ve come a long way. When we began upgrading our billing systems in late 2013 we failed to catch multiple problems, and when our customers called to tell us about these issues, we didn’t provide the service we should have. It’s taken some time to fix what went wrong, but we’re continuing to improve, and we’re working hard to regain our customers’ trust.

Indeed, since joining Vodafone UK almost two years ago, improving customer service has been my top priority. My team and I have been listening to what our customers have to say, and whenever there’s a problem, we aim to solve it as quickly and efficiently as we can. We know it’s frustrating when it takes a long time to reach a call centre agent, for example. And we realise how annoying it is when there’s an error on a bill.

The good news is we’re moving in the right direction. Here are some key stats to illustrate what I mean. These days, if a customer phones our call centres, the average amount of time they wait to connect with a live customer service agent is around 14 seconds, an improvement of 96% since January 2016. We’re also cutting down on billing errors – the number of people whose bills need crediting because of an error is down by 90%.

The changes we’ve made have reduced the volume of calls our service centres receive by an average of 1.1 million per month, a drop of 40%. What’s more, our Pay monthly customer care Net Promoter Score – which tells us how many more customers would recommend us to a friend versus those who wouldn’t – is a much improved 25%, an increase of 58 percentage points. And in March, we started recruiting 2,100 more call centre staff in the UK, so that it’s even easier for customers who ring us to speak to a person.

Improving Vodafone’s network performance

Whilst we know there’s more work to be done, we’re headed the right way. And by the end of this summer, we’re confident we’ll be back on track. To ensure that we are, we’re also working to improve our network performance. We will have spent more than £2 billion on our network and services in the UK since the beginning of 2014, and we expect to invest another £2 billion in the next three years.

Our investment is starting to pay off – our call setup success rate is now 99.87%, and our 4G coverage has reached 96%, up from 84% a year ago. We’re also rated the #1 carrier for voice and data in London, and #1 for voice in the UK, according to independent consultants P3. We’re doing everything we can to improve, because we’re absolutely determined to be the best mobile service provider in the market.

Reaching a key customer service milestone

The Contact Centre awards we received are an encouraging sign that we’re turning things around. It’s especially encouraging that these awards take into account our performance in areas like improving customer experience, and raising standards in the contact centre industry. And it’s a great honour that a panel of contact centre experts recognised our teams. Reaching this point is an important milestone for my team, and for Vodafone UK.

When I first started this job in August 2015, many of the emails I received from customers were complaints, but now I also hear from people who’ve had a good experience with Vodafone. I’m grateful, because it helps to know what we’re doing right as well as wrong. We’re committed to delivering the best possible service, and that’s why we always encourage customers to get in touch to tell us how we’re doing. Thanks to the feedback we receive, we can continue to make great strides.