Activities & results - Our Customers

‘The Easiest Place to do Business’

With our second strategic pillar we focus on our customers. We want to offer them the best customer experience. With our products and services, but also with our service provision. People should be able to do business with us fast and easily. That is why we simplify processes, make sure we can be easily found online and develop relevant and easy-to-use services. We want to be ‘The Easiest Place to do Business’ and surprise people by going the extra mile. With our service provision we can set ourselves apart and offer continuity. For our customers, our employees ánd for society.

In order to offer our customers the best experience, we further improved our service provision in 2014-2015. Think about more support in controlling costs, for example by providing more relevant information on a personal level to customers through the My Vodafone app and informing about network maintenance. We also invested in fixed internet with optic fibre to the home and developing new services like Vodafone Thuis. These areas will remain focus points in our efforts to be ‘The Easiest Place to do Business’ in the coming years.

What is happening around us and how does this impact us?

Managing expectations regarding coverage and continuity
Mobile technology has become more and more crucial in people’s lives. They organise their life through their mobile phone and/or tablet. They expect to be able to go online anywhere, anytime. It is therefore important to manage these expectations and to inform people adequately where in the Netherlands they do and do not have access to our 2G/3G/4G network, in which areas disruptions occur or work is being carried out and what the expected time frames are in such cases. We also need to be transparent about possibilities for compensation if a solution remains forthcoming for too long.

Cost control
We also notice that data usage is still increasing. 4G, new handsets with bigger displays and video services like Netflix are contributing factors. Being online has become a commodity. In many cases people are not even aware of the amount of data they use each month. The bill or the reduction in speed can sometimes be an unpleasant surprise. Using internet abroad (roaming) can still lead to unexpected high costs.

Quality of service
Consumers are increasingly well informed, have higher demands and higher expectations regarding service. People also prefer to be able to settle as much as possible themselves, at their own convenience. To be competitive, Vodafone therefore has to offer adequate, accessible and fast service opportunities, including good self-service options and complaint handling. Furthermore, customers increasingly expect organisations to only inform them about matters that are relevant to them.

Offering triple and quad play services
4G not only enables high-speed mobile internet, it is also a crucial element for total communication services (telephony, internet and TV). Nearly 60% of Dutch households currently subscribes to a triple play package (source: ConnexieB2B, April 2015). Of these customers, 8% also subscribes to mobile services from the same provider (quad play). Customers find this easy and receive more value, since providers can offer additional functionalities, enabling a seamless merging of TV, internet and telephony. In order to remain successful in the long run, it is therefore important to be able to offer mobile as well as fixed services. The increasing popularity of triple and quad play also leads to market changes. Vodafone no longer competes with mobile operators like KPN and T-Mobile only, but also with fixed providers like Ziggo.

Transparency regarding privacy
The fact that everyone and everything is connected and that we use telecom in about everything we do, can also involve certain risks. How do telecom operators handle their customers’ privacy? To what extent do national and international government agencies use their powers to request end-user data? And is this something we are (always) aware of? This results in a justifiably critical attitude of customers and other stakeholders towards the safeguarding of privacy. Companies do need to be transparent about which data they collect from customers and how they process them (with the exception of wiretap requests from intelligence services).

Increased demand for sustainable products and services
The number of consumers that give consideration to sustainability when purchasing products or services rose in 2014 with an impressive 12% to 42%, as described in the Duurzaam Dossier 2014. Fifty percent of consumers put more trust in a brand with – in their opinion – socially responsible business practices. With the Eco-score, developed by Vodafone Netherlands and now an international standard, we make it easier for customers to make a conscious choice when looking for a new handset. We also offer customers the option to trade in their old handset for a recycling refund with our Trade-In Deals. See also the chapter ‘Our technology’.

> How do we involve our stakeholders?
> How do we determine the material issues?

How do we anticipate these developments?

In order to be ‘The Easiest Place to do Business’ for our customers at all times, we focused on the following two key areas in 2014-2015:

1. Excellent (self-) service for our customers
We strive for excellent self-service possibilities through the My Vodafone environment on our website and the My Vodafone app. At the same time, we keep improving our customer service through our call centre, social media and our shops. Offering customers control over their mobile telephony costs, informing them about our network (coverage, reception, maintenance and outages), making relevant offers and privacy also belong to this area.

2. Transforming from mobile provider to a player that combines fixed, mobile and TV (convergence)
We want to offer our customers high-quality fixed and mobile services in order to remain competitive. In this way we are responding to technological developments and demands from customers. And by converging all products, services and the subsequent service provision, we can service our customers in an even better way and provide them with optimum convenience.

What is the progress on our goals?

  1. The Net Promoter Score uses a 10-point scale, where 9 and 10 mean the employees are Promoters (ambassadors of Vodafone) and 0 to 6 mean they are Detractors (employees who do not recommend Vodafone or are negative about it). The Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. We have been measuring our Net Promoter Score in all customer contact channels (shops, customer service, online) for a few years now and for the Vodafone brand in general.
  2. The Customer Effort Score is measured on a 5-point scale, where 1 represents little effort and 5 considerable effort. The % relates to the respondents who give a score of 1 or 2 on the 5-point scale. For 2014-2015 the definition of the score has been modified. The score is now based on an unweighted average of the amount of effort a customer has had to put into gaining insight in usage and costs and the effort it took to take out a subscription or any other service.
  3. Sales force Facebook & Twitter (Apr-Jan) + Lithium Twitter (Jan-Mar) = estimated at 1 hour, 48 minutes.

What have we achieved in 2014-2015

Improved insight in data usage and control over costs
In 2014-2015, we ensured that a large part of our consumer customers not only see their up-to-date usage via the My Vodafone app or the My Vodafone environment on our website, but also the costs they possibly make outside their bundle and what these consist of. Based on this information customers can adjust their use at their own discretion. In this way they have more control over their costs. The app or website also provides customers with all the details regarding their current mobile subscriptions in one overview. This makes it easy to find the subscriptions for e.g. partner and/or children and enables simple management. Our specialized helpdesk now proactively advises people who consistently exceed their bundle about a better-fitting bundle. We want to prevent people exceeding their bundle unwantedly, incurring unexpected costs.

Last year we spoke as telecom industry to the Ministry of Social Affairs about problematic debts resulting from mobile telephony. The ministry concluded that the industry takes its responsibility and informs people well about usage and costs. In this way providers help avoid debts. In spite of this, we keep devoting ourselves to this cause.

Following complaints by consumers in TV programme Radar, we discovered much to our dismay that part of our customers received our SMS notifications about 80% and 100% data bundle consumption too late. It turned out to be caused by instability and issues in our IT systems. In order to solve the problem we subsequently amended our IT systems.

With the Customer Effort Score we specifically measure our efforts to give customers more control over their usage and costs (the score in the KPI overview is the general Customer Effort Score). This specific score improved (73% compared to 68% in 2013-2014).

Expedited customer complaint handling
We streamlined our complaint handling process by adapting our systems and stressing the importance of an adequate and prompt handling by our people. The objective is to deal with complaints faster.

  1. Direct customer contact, excluding customer contact via Facebook, Twitter and other social media. The Vodafone Forum is also an important online platform where customers can ask for assistance from other users or make a contribution themselves by responding to the questions of others. The Vodafone Smartphone Crew provides support on the forum. The number of people using the forum substantially increased over the past year.
  2. The increase in the number of customer contacts is the result of more self-service and chat contacts through the My Vodafone app, like viewing the online invoice, activating/deactivating a BloX and viewing one’s credit.
  3. Sharp increase in the number of complaints compared to last year is primarily due to the issues concerning the data usage notifications and the subsequent TV broadcasts on this subject in Radar.

* The decrease in telephone contact in favour of self-service, serves as confirmation of our approach to enable customers to do more by themselves. The primary channels used are My Vodafone on our website and the My Vodafone app.

Improved network communication
Since 2014-2015 we have been proactively communicating with our customers about network maintenance. Customers now receive a personal mail if maintenance to the network is planned in their postal code area, as a result of which they might experience a temporary decrease in their high-quality network experience. Of the customers receiving this e-mail, 95% appreciates the information. We also improved the information on our online coverage map. People are now able to view more accurately and more up-to-date what the 3G and 4G coverage in their area is. Furthermore, we are the 1st provider in the Netherlands to offer our customers real-time insight in maintenance and service disruptions. Short instruction videos in e.g. our shops show customers in which way they can best make use of our network.

Simplified and expedited purchase and renewal process
Last financial year we simplified the online order form and our telesales. This makes it easier for people to become a Vodafone customer and speeds up processes as a result of which people receive their handset and subscription quicker. Furthermore, customers are now able to renew their contract through the My Vodafone app. In the coming year customers should be able to collect their handset when and where they want when purchasing a subscription online. We measure the Customer Effort Score specifically for our efforts to simplify and expedite our purchase and renewal process (the score in the KPI overview is the general Customer Effort Score). This specific score has gone down (72% compared to 74% in 2013-2014). Further action is therefore necessary.


Improved transparency and relevance
In the past year we have become even more transparent when it comes to using customer information. As part of the sales process we inform customers even more clearly about which information we would like to use and what the effect is if customers grant or decline their permission. For example, what kind of information and offers they will or will not receive. Through My Vodafone customers can now also check and change their permission status. The information customers allow us to use, enables us to be of more relevance to them. We can e.g. proactively inform them about the possibilities of their type of handset. Read more about our position on privacy.

Optimised IT infrastructure
To service our customers in the best possible way through the channel of their choice, it is important that our IT systems support this adequately. In 2014-2015 we have accomplished great progress with the integration and optimisation of our IT systems. We have also migrated all the data of our 2.3 million consumer and small business customers with a subscription to the new system. Next year, prepaid and enterprise customers will be migrated. The ultimate benefit of the new, integrated and optimised system for the customer is that whatever channel he or she chooses to contact us, all information is unambiguously available. In this way we improve our service provision and by doing so, the customer experience.

Realised fixed internet
By realising optic fibre to the home (fixed internet) 1 million households can since February 2015 subscribe to Vodafone Thuis. This is an important milestone for Vodafone in the transition from mobile telephone provider to total communication provider (converged provider). The ability to offer both mobile and fixed services is a must to remain competitive in the future.

Improved service provision to enterprise customers
In 2014-2015 we carried out extensive research into trends, challenges and measures that companies take in order to be able to respond to changes in the market place. This has provided us with more know-how about what companies need in the field of IT and communication solutions and about the role we can play. All this has been summarized in our Ready Business strategy.

As a result we opened a Ready Business Center in our office in Amsterdam on 1 April. Here we will co-create with enterprise customers sustainable technological solutions to communication issues of their HR, marketing or logistics department.

In September 2014 we launched OneNet Enterprise, an overall solution for fixed and mobile communication. For enterprise customers this is convenient and provides them with cost control. The acquisition of Nexct, specialized in Microsoft Lync, helps us to expand our portfolio of integrated communication solutions for enterprise customers. For small businesses, including the fast-growing segment of self-employed people, we expanded our sales department. This enables us to offer a more personalized and improved service to customers.

More attention to sustainable choice
Vodafone offers sustainable options when customers choose a new handset. To this end we introduced the Eco score in November 2011. In October 2014 it was decided to introduce the European Eco score 2.0 together with the independent Forum for The Future. As of March 2015, the Eco score is mentioned on all price labels of the Vodafone as well as the Belcompany shops. In the months from December 2014 up to February 2015, we have instructed all 1,500 salespeople in the Vodafone and Belcompany shops on the subject, enabling them to inform customers adequately.

In November 2014 we published the battery tips, in cooperation with MilieuCentraal. These online tips are now among the 10 most visited service pages. Furthermore, in December 2014 we launched the Eco game. Finally, in March we donated 10 euros per customer to the Netherlands Society for Nature and Environment if a customer traded his used handset for a new one with an Eco score of 3.0 or higher. In this way we combined the Eco score in a positive sense with the trade-in deals, as was suggested during a stakeholder dialogue in August. Overall, this resulted in a donation of 10,000 euros to the Society. See also the chapter ‘Our Technology’.

Online safety for kids
Besides tools for parental control regarding the smartphone, we also have tools for TV. However, we no tools yet for fixed internet. In 2014-2015 we published the 2nd edition of the WIJS magazine for parents. It contains expert advice on how to guide children in the use of online media. Simultaneously with the publication of the WIJS magazine, we published the results of the research we conducted among parents, together with Motivaction, into smartphone and tablet usage by their children. It proved that 18+ websites are parents’ greatest concern.

How did we realise our activities (input)?

  • 657 FTE working for customer service
  • Investments in integration of IT systems
  • Cooperation with stakeholders, like the City of Maastricht
  • Expanding the number of enterprise specialists in order to better service the small business community

How do we look back on our results?

By integrating 25 IT systems we guarantee the future of our IT infrastructure whilst making sure we can offer our customers an even better service. This operation has, however, taken its toll on our results. This is evidenced by the Customer Effort Score and Customer channel satisfaction score. Targets on both KPIs were not met. In customer service for example, customers had to wait longer before receiving an answer or we weren’t able to solve their problem in one go. This was especially the case in the 4th quarter. By now, most of the problems have been solved. Together with our IT partners we have worked hard and deployed more people to overcome the teething troubles of our new IT systems as quickly as possible. We also increased the number of agents in our customer service department. Furthermore, whenever necessary, we contact customers experiencing problems, for instance in processing their order. The NPS score, measuring the extent to which customers recommend Vodafone to others, is quite likely also partly influenced by the IT operation.

The higher score in the Customer Effort Score regarding the extent to which customers had to put effort into gaining insight in their costs (73% compared to 68% in 2013-2014) is a result of everything we have done to prevent people exceeding their bundle unwantedly, incurring unexpected costs.

The Customer Effort Score is the result of our efforts to prevent people exceeding their bundle unwantedly, incurring unexpected costs.

In our major IT operation ‘Unify’ we were faced with the dilemma how we should inform customers and other stakeholders. On the one hand we wanted to inform customers about the extensive operation, preparing them for any possible inconvenience. On the other hand, we could not foresee exactly if customers would notice anything at all. In the end we decided to inform stakeholders on a regular basis through the media, outlining the project and progress. Customers were contacted directly if they were expected to be impacted by changes.

What is the impact on our environment?

Our activities resulted in several social-economic effects:

  • By investing in the development of employees, we increase the intellectual capital, also in the field of customer service expertise.
  • With our products and services we enable customers to stay in touch wherever they are and whenever they want and to access information and entertainment anyplace, anytime. This offers them convenience, freedom and knowledge, saves time and contributes to health and safety in our country.
  • For our enterprise customers a high-quality, stable and secure infrastructure offers efficiency in capacity, costs, mobility and CO2 emission besides more productivity and safety.
  • With Vodafone Thuis we offer consumers a wider choice with a large, international player now being available. Competition will lead to more developments in the fixed market.
  • By informing customers adequately and by offering tools for cost control, we contribute towards a lower debt burden in society.

With our products and services we enable customers to stay in touch anytime, anyplace and to have access to information and entertainment.

What do we want to achieve in the coming years?

We will keep improving our service provision to customers, simplify our complaint process and improve our one-to-one communication to our customers by improving consistency of the content and the ‘tone of voice’ of the communication. Availability of our customer service will be further improved and simplified. When a customer contacts us through one of our customer contact channels with a question or problem, we want an immediate solution for him or her. ‘First Time Fix’ we call this. Our shops are also a service channel, which is why we will further strengthen the service provision in our shops. The self-service options of the My Vodafone app will be expanded and the self-service opportunities for enterprise customers will also be improved.

The integration of mobile and fixed, and a full high-quality product offer in this area is and will remain a key focus area. This will also enable us to offer the customer maximum convenience. For individual customers as well as households. Finally, we will further improve customers’ user experience abroad (roaming) and we will keep developing mobile payment options.

This article is composed by Ruth Prins and Rogier Nelissen