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Viewpoint | 01 Apr 2020

How we became a ‘working from home’ company in just a few weeks

Max Taylor, Consumer Director, Vodafone UK, explains how the company reacted swiftly to the coronavirus crisis and began supporting customers in a whole new way.

The Government’s request for the UK to go on lockdown for at least three weeks marks the latest extraordinary action to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

Vodafone’s immediate response was to close all our retail stores and, in light of these closures, I’d like to tell you how our remote working has since evolved, how we’re striving to support our customers, and how we’re keeping the UK connected.

Help now our stores are closed

In the history of British retail, there have been few weeks like the last ones. High streets and shopping centres across the country are now empty as people heed advice to stay at home to stay safe. But our customers still need essential services; they still need us.

Our store staff will continue to be paid, including an average of their last three month’s commission. We are offering support in other ways too: offering access to Vodafone’s Virtual Doctor, for example, and to online educational and training modules so they can keep up to date with Vodafone’s latest products and services.

Closing our retail stores and losing that physical connection with our customers has been hugely emotional and maintaining our local connections is now more important than ever. I am hugely proud of the resilience and professionalism our teams have shown in taking on new challenges and working in new ways.

For example, direct phone lines to stores have been re-routed to store managers, and we are working through every available option to re-deploy store staff to work from home. I’d like as many staff as possible to be able to answer questions from local customers.

We’ve also trained the majority of our staff on webchat, rolling that out within a week. And so we can reassure our customers, we’ve given extra training on how we’re ensuring the reliability of our network. Scott Petty, our Chief Technology Officer, gives a great overview of how we’re doing this here.

Answers to general queries can be found on the Vodafone App or online, and we also offer loads of useful ‘how to’ self-help guides on our YouTube channel. Customers can try our chatbot Tobi, or ring 191 from their Vodafone phone (but please bear in mind that call waiting times may be longer than usual).

Call centre staff working from home

In less than a week, we prepared nearly 2,300 call centre employees to work at home, customising and distributing in excess of 800 new laptops and more than 1,000 extra headsets. I’m so proud of how quickly our call centre staff have adapted to this new way of working.

We are using web and video conference calling, platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack, and online tools to monitor each other’s wellbeing. Everyone at Vodafone UK is committed to working at our best so we can support our customers through this crisis.

Entertainment at home

My team is also working hard to make sure the nation is kept entertained.

With our partner Samsung, we’ve changed the mechanics of our Augmented Reality (AR) game Find Unlimited so everyone can now enjoy it at home. Wherever you are in the UK, between 11am-2pm each day, you can log on to the game and hunt for AR treasure. There are thousands of prizes up for grabs, including the Samsung Galaxy S20. Register to play by visiting: www.findunlimited.co.uk.

We’re also in the process of updating our offers on VeryMe. There are 3.3 million users signed up to Vodafone’s loyalty programme, and being able to offer rewards that will bring some light relief in these dark times is a big priority for us. So watch this space.

Making it as easy as possible to join Vodafone

We’re seeing huge demand for our Broadband and Mobile Broadband products as people look for better value, and more flexible broadband during this crisis.

Our website has lots of helpful information, but I thought I’d outline some of the specific ways Vodafone is able to help.

We announced at the end of last week that our most vulnerable customers, as well as half a million other Pay Monthly customers not already on our unlimited data plans, will have access to 30-days free unlimited mobile data. You can find further details about this offer here.

But we are monitoring network capacity closely and, if we have more to give, we will extend the offer to even more of our customers.

My team has also worked fast to create a promotion that offers customers six months half price when purchasing one of our market-leading 24-month Unlimited plans. From £11 per month, for six months, customers can enjoy worry-free usage on the UK’s best mobile data network.

Pay As You Go 1 is a plan that provides extra minutes, texts, and data where customers pay no more than £1 on the days they use their phone, and no money at all on the days they don’t.

Vodafone is also proud to offer our award-winning Unlimited Superfast Broadband and we are currently offering Superfast 2 (63Mbps) for the price of Superfast 1 at £22.95 per month.

We are here for you

I’d like to send good wishes to all our customers and our staff across the country.

It’s so important we keep communicating with our customers, so amongst other things, we have a new TV advert which you can see this weekend that celebrates just how the nation is staying connected, even when they have to be apart.

We are also using this airtime to encourage donations to one of our charity partners, The British Red Cross.

We want you to know we are here for you – ready, willing, and able to support you to the best of our abilities in these challenging times.

#KeepingtheUKConnected