Vodafone's initiative to shift customers from assisted-only care to digital

the world going digital, customer service is evolving from being a human-led, call centre-based query resolution mechanism to a more digitally evolved system of self-care with 24x7 experiences. Taking cues from the evolving digital behaviour of customers, Vodafone India is developing new-age digital experiences for its 210-plus million customers. The operator has rolled out “Happy to help… IN A CLICK”, a digital transformation initiative which aims to move customers away from assisted-only care to digital self-care and anytime and doorstep services. The objective is to digitise end-to-end customer journey to free up time and resource bandwidth to boost user experience.

Almost a billion customers connect in a month with the operator across various touchpoints such as contact centre, stores and its app. For Vodafone India, digital connects have gone up by over 100 per cent in the last 12 months. This calls for building in more agility, speed and efficiency in the operator’s network architecture and customer response system.

Kavita Nair, associate director, commercial operations, Vodafone India, says, “Fundamentally, with smartphones leading the way, how consumers interact with us has changed. Earlier, users wanted to be dealt with, informed and educated about services and offers. Today consumers want to explore and do things themselves. They seek efficient resolution of problems and want to reach out for assistance only if they cannot resolve a problem all by themselves.”

Consumers at large have changed and evolved in different business categories. And the new-age digital customer is a reality in the telecom domain as well.

Nair says that Vodafone India has a history of customer-assisted model and expertise in managing the same for effective delivery of user experience. Now, the opportunity and challenge lies in making a shift from customer-assisted model to the new-age digital-driven network for service delivery from customers’ perspective as well as internally.

To cater to the changing requirements of customers, Vodafone India has transformed various customer touchpoints to behave and respond in a manner akin to an e-commerce platform. Essentially, what this means is that the entire customer journey had to be digitised right from the users having the freedom to see and choose tariff plans, select and make payment, and manage multiple accounts almost all by themselves. Such an approach vests full control of choice in the customers’ hands. They fully know what they are getting into rather than having a buffer in the form of a contact centre or a store.

Vodafone India has a network of 8,000-plus stores across India. About 95 per cent of its customer base have prepaid connections. These are people who typically go to the nearest store to do a simple recharge. The entire process takes at least 15 minutes, if the store is close by. Now with the MyVodafone app, customers can get the recharge done at their convenience and in no time. From a process point of view, 95 per cent of customers save 15 minutes on each recharge.

Vodafone India’s thrust on digital transformation comes at the right time and the initiative aligns well with various reports that point out that the telecom industry is staring at a “digital disruption”.

According to a whitepaper titled “Digital Transformation” presented at the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2017, the digital transformation of telecommunications represents a $2-trillion opportunity for industry and society. The paper calls for operators to redefine customer engagement.

To win the race for customer loyalty and mindshare, the telecom players will need to increasingly deploy features and tools that deliver delightful digital experiences. This is especially important as customers now expect the high-quality digital experiences they receive in one industry to be matched by companies in other sectors. The whitepaper claims that going forward virtualisation and an abstraction of the physical hardware layer promise to fundamentally change the basis of future service differentiation by creating self-optimising and secure zero touch networks. The whitepaper was put together by The Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI), a project set up by WEF in 2015, and Accenture.

As part of its digital thrust, Vodafone India is promising convenience as the key driver for service deliver. It enables users to customise their plans and numbers online and have a connection home delivered. The operator is using third-party services to manage the final fulfilment part of the customer journey. In the process, it has done away with the need for a customer to physically visit a store, put in a request for a new number. Also, against calling its automated systems to resolve bill queries, Vodafone India has paved the way for subscribers to manage their family’s accounts on the My Vodafone app and book appointments before they visit a store.

Technology and process play a large role in how the organisation delivers digital customer experience to customers. Nair points out that the digitisation of services involved making network architecture more digital, modular and scalable for it to be future-ready.

To introduce its new digital-led services, Vodafone India has launched a nationwide campaign featuring the old favourites, ZooZoos, in a new Ninja avatar. Communicating its “Happy to Help… IN A CLICK” service, the ZooZoos in their 2018 avatar are seen to be quick, agile and efficient. much like the operator’s service experience, enabled by the digital transformation.

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