Vodafone is overhauling its One Net unified communications installation service following complaints from its indirect channel partners about slow delivery.
Mobile understands Vodafone has terminated its contract with its original installation provider, replacing it with a new contractor.
The operator is also encouraging Platinum and Gold partners to become accredited One Net installation providers, which would allow them greater control over the total process by offering a one-stop, seamless, end-to-end service for One Net customers.
Vodafone Partners that become accredited installation partners may also be allowed to outsource their installation services to other Vodafone partners, say sources, as part of a bid by Vodafone to speed up the delivery of One Net.
Three Platinum partners are currently trialling the scheme and are expected to be awarded accreditation when the trial concludes early next year. The trial will then be extended to other qualifying partners.
An indirect channel source said: ‘There has been a lot of partner dissatisfaction with Vodafone’s own installation service, which has been slow to deliver, causing a lot of customer
dissatisfaction that the partners have to deal with.
‘Vodafone has changed its installation contractor because of the amount of complaints. It also wants to create more competition so it is keen for as many partners as possible to become accredited installers and is in discussions about allowing them to extend that service to other partners.’
A Vodafone spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the operator has terminated its contract with its original installation contractor.
She confirmed Vodafone was keen to see partners accredited as installation partners, but said plans to allow accredited installation partners to outsource their services to other partners was ‘not part of the current trial – not at this stage’.
She added: ‘How exactly we roll out the trial is still being worked out, although having accredited installation partners is absolutely somewhere we are moving to and we will be working closely with our partners to help them get the right skills and capabilities to do that.’
Vodafone head of partner services Tony Bailey (pictured) said the Implementation Partner Programme was about enhancing the One Net customer experience, rather than a response to dealer concerns about slow installation services.
He said: ‘If you look across the tiers there are several partners that have fixed and data skills. Therefore, the skill is already there to do One Net site surveys and fulfilment, so it makes sense to have them deliver that end-to-end customer service and it enhances the customer experience too.’
Vodafone Partner Services announced a 20% rise in revenues and connections last week.
Bailey said Vodafone Partner Services (VPS) had delivered outstanding results over the past 12 months, delivering a 20% rise in both revenue and connections year on year with churn falling by 1% in the same period.
‘These are great financial results and a large proportion of that was via our indirect channel,’ he said at Vodafone’s Platinum Partner Day last week (14 November).
Bailey added that the past 12 months had also seen significant growth for Vodafone’s One Net service.
‘A large number of partners are selling One Net now,’ he said, attributing the growing number of One Net sales in part to Vodafone’s improved training programme.
‘We have changed the way we deliver training. It is not just about product training. It is about solution training for One Net – how to sell it, how to understand the customer’s need, the delivery of tiered levels of service and having dedicated service teams.’
Bailey said communication between VPS and its indirect channel had been significantly improved by its Partner Boards, set up earlier this year. These are regular forums at which partners meet with Vodafone management. So far Vodafone has held 14 Partner Board meetings with 10 different partners invited to each one.
Bailey revealed that the Implementation Partner Programme was one of a number of initiatives that had been hammered out at its regular Partner Board meetings. ‘Initially we took it to the Partner Board meetings to sound it out.
They are a great forum for feedback and are working well for us,’ he said.
Looking to the future, Bailey said Vodafone is planning to introduce Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to measure customer satisfaction in April next year. NPS scores are based on customer responses to the question: ‘How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?’
Bailey said it is already used to gain feedback in Vodafone’s consumer division and will be introduced next year into the indirect channel.
He added: ‘Everyone agrees it [NPS] makes sense. It is a really good way to help us understand what customers think of our partners and Vodafone and helps us improve our customer service.’
Vodafone to grow One Net services
Vodafone UK small business sales director Tim Stone said the operator was fully committed to growing its One Net services.
He said growing demand for One Net services was proof of its increasing success. He said: ‘If you look at the number of connections that have been made in the UK to date, they number tens of thousands. At the same time the speed of connections is increasing day by day and will continue to do so as we continue to invest in One Net.’
He declined to give specific numbers for One Net take-up in the UK but said globally there are 1.7 million One Net users across Vodafone’s estate.
He added: ‘Most of our partners are doing One Net and there is a significant commitment from all partners to it because they can see it is a real product in the marketplace. Now with the addition of Microsoft Office 360 it is a direct link into cloud-based services and our partners see the increasing opportunities to move into adjacent markets.’