The idea may sound simple, but no one has achieved it before (or since): scoring a salesperson’s service levels, and then building it into pay.
That was the process that Fizzback implemented when it was founded by CEO Rob Keve (pictured) in 2005, moving into mobile in early 2008 after discussions with former Phones 4u marketing director Jim Slater.
The agreement came when Phones 4u was being investigated for mis-selling, and coincided with the retailer’s decision to make customer service a top priority.
Fizzback’s central idea is to rate the likelihood of a customer recommending the service they received to another person, and that score is then taken by companies as a component to pay and commissions.
Having also signed up Carphone Warehouse, along with virtually all the operators with shops, Fizzback has now set its sights on ambitious expansion plans.
Many companies have attempted to do the work in-house only to find the process fraught with difficulties, and then opt to out-source to Fizzback.
Fizzback is in the right place at the right time – just as customer service becomes top of the agenda for the mobile operators, retailers, and crucially the industry regulator, Ofcom. T-Mobile customer service was the most recent to sign up, in Q1 2009.
Fizzback’s service works by asking the customer for feedback via text message after a retail or call centre experience. It differs from traditional methods because of its large sample size, and the fact that it asks the customer for general feedback rather than specific questions.
The company claims it is doing ‘great things’ with Carphone, and has a number of deals in the pipeline as it adopts an aggressive expansion strategy in Europe and North America. Fizzback currently has Phones 4u, Carphone, T-Mobile and at least one other network as customers, but does not have any clients outside the UK.
The business estimates that 60% of mobile retail stores – around 1,600 sites – obtain feedback from customers using its service. The company’s chief marketing officer, John Coldicutt, says: ‘It’s really gratifying that the sales culture is starting to change.’
The company is also doing well in non-mobile retail, with supermarket deals and a Marks & Spencer award.
Coldicutt adds: ‘It turns traditional ways of gauging customer service on its head as it asks the consumer.’
Call centres next
The service can tie into a specific person in a retail store or in a call centre. At the moment, Fizzback monitors Phones 4u and T-Mobile call centres, and is expected to pick up Carphone in due course.
The service tracks progress across what Fizzback calls the ‘consumer journey’ – from the initial marketing, phone call, in-store experience, buying the phone, the first bill, through to evaluating options at the end of the contract.
Coldicutt says its clients are also using the Fizzback service as a coaching and development tool as well as something that measures bonus.
So why do operators find it hard to carry out the service in-house?
Coldicutt says the answer is ‘artificial intelligence’, which has taken time and effort to build. Without this, businesses can only take a small sample and cannot get the full picture. He adds: ‘Everyone uses it slightly differently, from operators to retailers to MVNOs. But customer feedback is around retaining the customer.’
Keve says all operators should be using Fizzback by the end of the year, as companies focus on customer service in commission schemes. He adds: ‘We have enabled people to do that.’
Keve points out that traditional methods used to focus on sales culture, which result in ‘mis-selling, misrepresentation of the brand and poor service to customers’, would only work in the short term.
And it is already having a notable effect on improving customer service.
Coldicutt says: ‘Our clients do a good job of customer service by tracking
client satisfaction. We can see how much they have moved the needle – if they are moving by 35% then they’re making a difference.’
Keve adds: ‘If you want to make a difference to customer service, you need to look at all channels – it needs to be a top person decision. Phones 4u reduced complaints by 60% after appointing Fizzback.’
Keve is confident that Fizzback’s customer base will grow even more this year. He says: ‘Our view is, there isn’t any reason why operators shouldn’t use this. We are multi-channel – SMS, web, voice – this will be different in all countries. Companies are missing that part of the equation. Our proposition is to use the same means of communication with customers as people do with friends.’