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Member Service improvements

aspirant


giffgaff is growing... very fast, which is fantastic news. I wish I could share with you exactly how well we're doing but as we've said before it's too commerically sensitive to reveal our exact numbers. Suffice to say we are well ahead of where we thought we'd be at this stage.

However success does bring with it its own set of problems. One of those is that in last 3 months we have seen a very large increase in the volume of account related queries, and port in requests - due to all those new members coming on board.

Port in requests in particular are very manual and time-consuming to process. This has put a lot of pressure on our valiant Member Service agents - who deal with both queries and ports.

In addition, new Ofcom regulations are about to come in (from April 11th) which require all mobile companies to process port in and port out requests twice as fast as they do currently. Again, this is great news for giffgaff (anything that makes it easier and faster for customers to leave mobile compnaies that are failing them is all right with us). But it does mean we have to make sure we can deliver against these timelines.

So to maintain service levels, and fulfil our obligations to Ofcom we are making some improvements to our Member Support operation.

1) Port in process improvements. From April 11th new Ofcom regulations  mean that port in requests must be completed within 1 working day (currently it is 2 working days).

In order to make sure we can do this we are bringing on a small team of new agents who will focus exclusively on ports.The new thing for us is that these agents will be based in India. Both the India and the Derry based agents are provided by the same supplier. So we have complete consistency in approach and management between the two sites. I have personally visited the team in India and can absolutely vouch for their commitment to customer service and professionalism, I look forward to having them join our extended team.

The main reason for locating these porting agents in India is cost. As a low cost business giffgaff needs to keep its operating costs low, and India is a cheaper location than Derry. However we also get a potential benefit from the time difference. India is 5 and a half hours ahead of the UK, so as a unified team it means we have the option of having a working day that starts at 4am UK time. This means we have greater flexibility to turn ports around in the required timeframe.

Having the Indian team focus exclusively on ports also means that the Derry team can focus on account queries - which are typically more complex individual cases which require a deeper understanding of giffgaff operations. To head off a question that I'm sure some will ask... this does not mean that we are looking to move the entire support operation to India in the future. We may expand their remit beyond ports by the end of this year, but we will always keep the Derry team as we recognise that service is not all about cost. There is a benefit for members in having agents who are closer to the core business, and that will not be compromised.

We are currently setting up and training the Indian team on the port process. The first day of porting being handled by the Indian team will be April 4th. Once they are all up and running I will introduce our extended team in the same kind of way we did last year.


2) More agents in Derry. Since we introduced the agent team to the communuity at the end of last year we have increased the Derry team by 30%. Given the recent continued increase in our customer numbers we are going to increase the team again by another 20%. Our new recruits will start in the first weeks of April, and I'll introduce them when they are on board.

3) Longer 'opening times' for agents. We have looked at the trends of when account queries are submitted and are changing our shift patterns for Derry agents, to better cover the periods of peak demand. This also means that we can be more efficient - which in turn means we can extend the overall the time the agents are online.

From Saturday 26th March Derry based agents will be available until 10pm seven days a week (currently they finish at 7 pm).

These changes will mean that we can keep giving members a brilliant personal service even as we grow rapidly as a business.

Thanks

338 Comments
enigma

@aks782 I am not denying there is a lot of poverty in India. However you can't deny the country, as a whole, has a LOT of money. How that wealth is spread, is not my fault, so do not criticise me for that. What I stated about India become an economical superpower - fact. Okay, they're not quite as far ahead in the stakes as China are, but they're not far behind. Mainly because of their engineering and computing advancements. The country doesn't need the money, the UK needs the money though, our economy is in a terrible state. Like I said, it is not my problem how that wealth is spread though, doesn't change the fact that India is (or is becoming) a very, very wealthy nation.

aspirant

I fully support giffgaff's decision. I actually think it'll be quite cool being able to get to know the new port-in team as opposed to other companies who keep their India-based workers anonymous and even burden them with the indigity of adopting an English name because the bosses assume customers will feel more comfortable with that.

Outsourcing to India is a fact of global economics so let's live in the real world people. This is especially true for a company as generous to its customers as giffgaff is. I think it'll be good to see an ethical company like giffgaff provide an example to other businesses of how it should be done. And I do feel some of the reactions in this thread are bordering on hysterical, especially considering you'll only ever be dealing with an agent from India once (if at all) as they're only handling port-ins. Personally I've had the same mix of good and bad experiences with both UK and Indian call centres, and I really don't mind talking to someone in India as they usually seem knowledgeable enough to me. I believe depends more on the company and how well they vet and train the individuals they hire, whether it be here or abroad, rather than one country's employees providing a better service than another's.

And being able to hire 10 workers from India for the cost of 1 British employee means giffgaff's UK-based team will be freed up from the tedious and overwhelming work of port requests and will be able to answer proper enquiries more swiftly, so it looks like a win-win situation to me. And if giffgaff in a year from now feels the India-based team has gained enough experience to be able to handle other requests I don't see why they shouldn't either, even though I imagine this won't be necessary.

aspirant

@daveysludge, no-one is suppressing dissent.

We are being completely transparent about what we are doing, and we're happy to debate the decision with the community.

 

But there is a big difference between debating offshoring as a principle, and making generic, derogatory remarks about an entire people.

 

And unfortunately some comments on this thread have left themselves open to being read as being in the second camp.

 

All I'm saying is keep the comments in the first camp and don't even go near the second. Tell us we're cheapskates, ruining the UK economy, won't be able to adequately train remote workers etc. But don't say this won't work just because it's in India. That actually hinders the debate.

 

 

 

@coolkeith, yes more members means more revenue - from top ups, but it also means more costs. For example, we get more top ups but we get more traffic on the site, and more interactions from members which pushes up our costs from suppliers like Lithium and RightNow for example - who provide the backend services that allow those interactions to happen. Our challenge as a  business is to stop those costs running out of control, and outsourcing ports is simply one way we can do that. There is nothing 'being creamed off' to board members.

 

 

 

 

aspirant

I must commend GG on their openess about this arrangement, they could quite easily have said nothing...

phenomenon

@jamesdn "Our economy is in a terrible state" - I shout this at every person that moans of cuts to gov spending! However, are 5 out-sourced jobs to India really going to help the massive figure of £900bn - isn't it compensated by the £130k x 2 gg pays through payback each year? Don't quite understamd hence why people are getting so very angry and rude to the new agents.

 

Just to add I, like james, am in strong favour of UK jobs generation (obviously, as i live in the UK), so that's not my issue, but my problem is with the way people have shown such ignorance and stupidity in making the comments they have done above against Indian people - it's sad really.

enigma

I think far more than just 5 potential UK jobs have been outsourced across the globe by various companies Ajay, not just to India but to various nations. It's a real shame giffgaff are sending money abroad, all I will think now each time I top up is that here goes more money out of the UK's books.

 

Also, although I agree with regards to the comments about Indian people, I think everyone here just needs to ignore the blanket racism (the moderators will sort that out) stop talking about the racists and let's have an interesting debate can we? 

grand master
I worked for a bank which started Indian call centres, the British staff hated them without giving them a chance, some customers got wise to this and would lie about what they had been told by call centre workers knowing "we" would not believe/trust the call centre workers. Let's give them a chance and not judge them before they've started. But I do agree virgin call centres are very very bad and very rude!!
rookie

@aks872 "That's total cr@p mate" - sorry, are you trying to tell me that my experiences are not what i have experienced? i am about to state a FACT: i personally, in my 27 years of being alive, have never had a UK based call centre representative hang up on me. i know this to be fact, because I was the person experiencing the events happening to me. i am also going to state another FACT: the only call centre representatives that have ever hung up on me personally, have been call centre operatives that were working from india. you cannot dispute those facts, because you were not the person experiencing those scenarios.

 

please note that i have not told you that your experiences are "cr@p mate". i am merely stating that what i have personally experienced.

rookie

@ragnorak "And I do feel some of the reactions in this thread are bordering on hysterical, especially considering you'll only ever be dealing with an agent from India once (if at all) as they're only handling port-ins." it seems that you have missed some pertinent information. the original blog post quite clearly states that giffgaff are looking to implement more duties to these offshore workers by the end of the year.

aspirant

GG used to roughly define itself as being a moralistic ethical company...

 

That has now gone right out of the window!