Viewpoint | 20 May 2022

‘Our aim is to become number one for effortless service’

Shelley Malton, Vodafone’s UK Director of Customer Services & Operations, explains how the company is improving its customer service.  

I am the first to admit that our customer service hasn’t always been as good as it should be. But I’m pleased to say that things are improving after a lot of hard work by our teams.

Our mission is to offer effortless service to our customers. This sounds simple but it’s surprisingly hard to put into practice when you have lots of legacy computer systems that often don’t talk to each other very well.

So part of our drive to improve customer service has involved investing in our digital services and radically simplifying processes for our customers. This has meant a lot of painstaking work behind the scenes, removing ‘pain points’ and ensuring the customer journey is as smooth as possible.

Here are a few examples of what we’ve been doing to streamline our digital operations:

  • we’ve improved TOBi, our artificially intelligent chatbot;
  • we’ve introduced more diagnostic tools for our customers so they can identify and resolve issues themselves first without having to contact our care centres;
  • we’ve introduced better authentication processes to speed up customer care calls and to make digital channels easier to use;
  • we’ve invested in our online web services to give customers more control over their bills.

And we’re working to resolve more customer queries in one contact as we know how annoying it can be being pushed from pillar to post and having to explain your situation to different customer care colleagues each time.

Of course, it’s better if customers don’t have to contact us at all to register a complaint or tell us when things aren’t working. So improving the overall quality of our network and products is really important, too. And this is what we’re constantly striving to do.

Bearing fruit 

It’s great to see our collective efforts making a difference. Total complaints across mobile and broadband fell 43% in the 2021/22 financial year – our best-ever result. And customers are noticing the difference: churn – the rate at which customers leave us for another provider – is falling.

Our improvements to TOBi have meant that nearly two-thirds of customers now resolve their query without having to be referred to a human agent. And three-quarters of customers who do contact our care centres now have their query solved at the first time of asking.

Happier employees make for happier customers

These are fantastic results we can all be proud of. This doesn’t mean we’re resting on our laurels, though. Far from it. There’s lots more to do to reach our ambitious target of being number one for effortless service.

We are relentlessly focused on improving our systems and becoming the lean, digitally smart and resolution-obsessed business we know we can be for our customers.

New ways of working 

The pandemic has been an awful experience for many, but there have been some silver linings. For example, now that our colleagues who serve our customers all work from home, employee surveys have shown that their quality of life and work/life balance has improved. And happier employees make for happier customers.

Another silver lining has been that our new ‘future ready’ way of working has enabled us to recruit from a more diverse pool of talent, across geography, gender, age and race.

For example, the percentage of female new hires has risen to 57% (up from 43% in September 2020). So now 51% of our customer agents are female, an increase of four percentage points that brings us into line with the national gender split. This new flexible working model is also enabling us to recruit more over-35s, who bring valuable experience and empathy to the role.

Vodafone confirms future way of working in the UK, including the creation of 300 new customer-facing roles at its Stoke-on-Trent operation and changes to its property footprint

The Stoke site will become home to a new sales centre of excellence.

These are still early days, but our initial findings show that this welcome diversity is also helping to improve our customer service. It’s an exciting – and I have to admit – unexpected result.

Our customer service is improving, but there’s obviously no room for complacency. We still have a long way to go on this journey. But I am determined to bring Vodafone up to the level of service our customers want and deserve. It’s gratifying to see that the measures we’re taking are working.


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