Vodafone: 'well on the way to recovery'

Vodafone: 'well on the way to recovery'
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Vodafone is “well on the way to recovery” according to general manager of digital, Vincent Dempsey, who even said the telco has made it back from the network problems and poor customer satisfaction of 2010.

“Anyone who has been in Australia for more than three to four years knows what we went through as a brand,” Dempsey, who was speaking at ThoughtWorks Live 2014, said.

“We are well on the way to recovery, and I would actually say that we are back.”

Slow speeds, poor coverage and high dropout rates marred Vodafone’s brand with the issues reaching boiling point in late 2010 and into 2011. The buckling network resulted in threats of class action lawsuits by more than 20,000 incensed consumers.

Dempsey, who has been with Vodafone for just over a year, said the telco needed a customer service “revolution or a transformation”.

“We needed to refocus on the basics and get the network right – which we have done now – and rebuild trust with our customers.

“We lost a lot of our customers during that period…we are now in the business of winning those customers back now.” Recently released financial results show Vodafone lost more than 1.2 million customers last year but the telco said its three year turnaround strategy was on track, according to The Australian.

Large organisations that have traditionally not been very nimble tend to resist change and getting the entire Vodafone Australia team on board, from executive level down, was a struggle for Dempsey.

But the brand has recorded a few wins according to Dempsey who says it is “definitely more customer focused”.  Vodafone used to platform focused but now teams are built around the customer journey.

“Our deployment cycles have been reduced dramatically so we save money on that. We also have not failed to deliver one deliverable in the past 12 months.

“We respond faster to business needs. In the past we had a roadmap that was 12 months long, now our roadmap is three months long.”

Dempsey said Vodafone can now respond faster to customer needs and his team has the trust of the wider business.

Earning that trust and getting everyone on board with his goals was challenging as he was changing the way the business worked.  Creating broad principles for everyone to rally behind was a starting point.

The principles included:

  • “How customers interact with us digitally will be the primary differentiator for us moving forward.”

  • Digital solutions for customer service are no longer niche

  •  “Finally, and most provocatively, I wanted to make sure that we understood as a business that the way we do business now will make us fail.”

Dempsey also did away with the more traditional PowerPoint slides in favour of a wall sized ‘map’ of what he was trying to achieve. The roadmap was a visualisation of what he was trying to build: “I wanted that become the North Star for what we are trying to build.”

The ‘map’ is accessible to everyone in the office, shows what the current priority is and is now where the 10 different streams report on what is happening twice a week.

To ensure the project continued Dempsey employed the following tactics:

  1. “I made a conscious decision to focus on stuff that may not have been the thing the customer wanted most at the beginning but that would give the fastest return and show the best results for the business.” Dempsey said he did this so the finance team and wider business could see they were getting traction and hitting the KPIs.

  2. Build a coalition of the willing: “You need to have a strong executive sponsor, someone who is going to fight those battles for you to keep it alive and make it work”.

  3. You need to get the CTO/CTI on board. Dempsey said this can be very challenging as changing a business to be customer centric can challenge long held beliefs ways of working.

  4. Annual planning expectations versus reality: “How do I ensure that I give an organisation that works on an annual planning cycle enough visibility of what I am going to do, without actually knowing what I was going to do for the next 12 months?” Dempsey said he addressed the tension by providing a high level view of plans, but one which focused more on the projected KPI achievements.

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