Vodafone launches new digital initiatives with a customer driven focus

Natalie Bannerman
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In a bid to become truly digital first and customer-centric, Vodafone UK announce its latest offerings in digital customer services

Vodafone UK has just unveiled its latest initiatives in its customer service space, including the deployment of new artificial intelligence technologies.

This offering comes as Vodafone attempts to turn around its rather poor customer service history. It is well known that the telco has been top of Ofcom's telecoms and pay TV complaints list for the last few years. Issues surrounding largely centred around billing and poor complaints handling according to reports are claimed to be the sources.

The announcement includes the introduction of its 24/7 assistance on Facebook and Twitter, the launch of ‘Message Us’ the 24/7 support service in the My Vodafone app, the trailing of new voice authentication services and the expanded service capabilities of the Vodafone chatbot, TOBi.

Speaking on the news, Vodafone CEO Nick Jeffery, said: “Our new service offerings illustrate our commitment to putting our customers at the very heart of everything we do. Whether it’s providing 24/7 customer care, developing innovative new digital services or outstanding indoor 4G coverage, we are determined to make our network and services easier to use, faster and more engaging for our customers than ever before.”

Building on Vodafone's existing web chat capabilities, the social media assistance on Facebook and Twitter is an expansion of that offering, bringing customers more channels to contact the company and making it the first major operator to offer 24/7 support. 

The ‘Message Us’ service within the My Vodafone app enables customers to initiate and re-visit conversations, also as it has a full conversation history and phone notifications it’s all done at a time and place to suit them. Also, a group messaging feature is due to added this summer, meaning that specialist team members can be added to conversations, saving time so customers are not transferred to various departments and do not need to re-explain their situation.

Utilising the latest in voice biometrics, Vodafone are trailing the use of voice recognition technology in its automated phone services. Using it, customers will no longer have to remember passwords to access their account. By registering and repeating a pre-recorded phrase, customers can confirm their identity based on the unique sound of their voice. Roll-out for this service is expected to happen by the end of the summer.

Vodafone UK are also capitalising on the popularity of Amazon's intelligent personal assistant Alexa, by integrating information about the customers Vodafone account into its system. Once authenticated they can ask Alexa for billing data, account details and information about extras. It is expected to launch later the summer.

TOBi the chat bot was launched in March of this year and has recently undergone an expansion of his role, instead of only answering web chat queries he will now account-specific questions on subjects like roaming and can offer advice on SIM only price plans. According to the company: “TOBi understands what a customer needs help with more than 90% of the time, and will be handling even more account transactions by year’s end.”

“I’m a firm believer of customers should have all the channels available to them, there are so many different segments of customers and the behaviours of those segments,” said Neil Blagden, director of commercial & customer operations at Vodafone UK.

In related news the company will also be offering: Vodafone Total Rollover, the UK’s first pay as you go plan, which allows customers to carry over any unused call, text and data allowance into the next month. Vodafone has also increased its data allowance bundles for pay as you go customers. The £10 bundle increases from 500MB to 1GB, the £20 bundle from 4GB to 6GB and the £30 bundle from 12GB to 20GB, as well as the new £5 Big Value Bundle. 

Vodafone UK also confirmed its goal to enhance their 4G connectivity for its customers saying: “As part of our commitment to deliver outstanding network performance, we’re now combining some of our existing spectrum bands to increase the availability and quality of our 4G service across major UK locations. This includes both outdoor and, crucially, indoor locations, to give customers confidence that our network will be there when they need it.”