Prepay MVNO giffgaff has brought forward a £1.5m platform upgrade and taken on more call centre staff to tackle capacity problems and customer service issues following a period of rapid growth at the company.
The MVNO, which is directly owned by O2, was forced to cut its online advertising campaign in a bid to slow growth after customer complaints of slow service and response times.
The capacity problems also forced giffgaff to delay the implementation of BlackBerry services for its members from November last year to 1 February.
CEO Mike Fairman told Mobile: ‘The problems came from our rapid growth. At the back end of 2011, part of our platform had capacity restraints. So we had to reign in and focus on providing a good service for our existing customers. We switched off all our adverts, slowing our momentum in order to put that capacity in.’
The company has also launched a recruitment drive at its call centre in Northern Ireland, doubling call centre staff numbers to speed up response times to customers’ technical queries.
Fairman claimed that growth had been rapid since the MVNO’s launch in June 2010. He said its revenues, which are just under £19m, had increased ‘elevenfold’, while its base had increased sevenfold to more than 100,000 customers.
Looking ahead, Fairman said giffgaff was aiming to make one million connections by 2017. He claimed the economic downturn had increased the company’s membership as consumers shift from contracts to Sim only deals.
The MVNO offers members 250 minutes of call time, unlimited texts and internet access on tariffs starting from £10 per month. Savings are made by members dealing with customer care enquiries via its online portal.
Giffgaff members, which Fairman described as ‘internet natives’, range from 16-35 years old and are active social media users. This was underlined by the fact that giffgaff had reached over 80,000 ‘Likes’ on its Facebook page recently, said Fairman. The MVNO uses its members to drive growth through recommendations. Members are responsible for bringing 25% of all new subscribers on board.
Members who make successful recommendations or contribute advice to other customers on giffgaff’s website earn points, which can be exchanged twice a year for airtime credit, as cash sent directly to a PayPal account, or as a charity donation.
Fairman said the company paid out a total of £1m in December last year, with one member earning more than £13,000.
He said: ‘We try to involve them in everything we can. We regularly consult with them on pricing, new bundles, price rises and we get them to test new products.’