The Critical Role Of Operations In Customer Experience


In a world where many customers just feel like dollar signs or voices on the phone, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world promises its customers they will be able to see the whites of its employees’ eyes. No matter the issue, there will always be someone there so closely involved in the situation that customers will know who they are and feel their presence.

It’s a powerful identity that Gary Adey, Commercial & Operations Director, Group Enterprise at Vodafone, has created for his team. Called Red Line, it’s an effort that showcases the importance of trust, ownership, and empathy in customer experience, especially when it comes to the operations team. Whenever a customer issue crosses the Red Line, the team owns it until it is resolved.

The Red Line identity is something that employees can connect with and that makes them proud to work for Vodafone. They then use that identity to drive positive interactions with their commercial and enterprise customers around the world.

Vodafone went through a transformation three years ago when it realized it needed to create a strong customer experience to match the high-quality network in which it had invested so much money. The company set a goal to be the customer experience leader in every market it operates in—a tall order considering Vodafone’s 500 million customers in 26 countries, including both consumer and enterprise customers.

Gary’s operations team plays a unique role in customer experience that isn’t seen in many other companies. At Vodafone, operations is an important piece of the culture that aims to create the optimum mix between people, technology, and process. Operations is directly connected to digital transformation and customer experience.

One way Vodafone drives customer experience is by focusing more on structure than on rules. Employees don’t have strict rules they have to follow; instead, they are given a structure and the autonomy to act within that structure to provide the customer what they need. Gary wants his employees to be empowered and passionate and not to be held back by rules or things they don’t have authority to do. Vodafone knows the importance of investing in customer experience, especially considering that it takes 12 positive customer interactions to undo the damage of one negative interaction. Investing in creating positive interactions from the beginning is more cost effective than risking a bad experience and having to fix it later.

This is especially important considering the wide range of interactions employees have with customers. On the consumer side, customers have questions about things like their bills, coverage, and upgrades. Vodafone has digitized many of those interactions so customers can engage digitally through the app for a more efficient and seamless interaction. On the enterprise side, the operations team supports large multinational customers who may have issues with their infrastructure that impacts everything about their business. Employees have to be ready to address a broad catalog of customer experience issues.

In the competitive telecommunications world, Vodafone sees customer experience as a sustainable differentiator that helps it stand out from the competition. It is easy to see the correlation between strong NPS and company growth. The company is focused on building trust with its long-term customers.

Vodafone’s operations team also stays on top of new technology and innovations. As trends and technology change, the company wants to be able to provide the best service and options to its customers, including an innovative program around the changing role of the retail store. This is particularly important in the enterprise space where many of Vodafone’s customers are going through their own digital transformations. By using new technology, Vodafone can have more data to create personalized experiences that can be scaled across countries and segments.

Operations plays a pivotal role in customer experience, as shown at Vodafone. By creating a team that owns the customer experience and is passionate about serving customers the best it can, operations can become the heart of any customer experienced-focused company.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author of More Is More, and keynote speaker. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here. Go farther and create knock your socks-off customer experiences in your organization by enrolling in her new Customer Experience School.

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