Vodafone Group Plc is a telecommunication company with most of its branches in Europe, Africa, United States of America, and the Middle East. In Australia, it is under Vodafone Hutchison Australia with a 50% share by Vodafone Group Plc and 50% share by Hutchison (Vodafone Group Plc, 2010).
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This company now provides 3G coverage services to 94% of Australians; these services are affordable and accessible by consumers. However, Vodafone operates in an environment where competition is high; there are other companies such as Optus, which provide similar products and services. Therefore, Vodafone should improve in the way it delivers its services to customers.
Telecommunication industry operates in a challenging economic background and despite this, and the rising unemployment, the industry has continued to offer attractive services. This industry has remained resilient; however, it is not immune to changes in the economy because it renders services that are essential for work and social use.
Despite the ups and downs of this industry, companies such as Vodafone and Optus remain innovative in their products and services, and still make reasonable profits (Vodafone Group Plc, 2010).
Vodafone experiences slow growth in its voice and messaging market following competition from other companies such as Optus, and regulatory pressure. However, there are still opportunities for Vodafone in broadband markets and enterprising. This is because of the increasing demand for integrated solutions in Australia.
Vodafone offers varieties of devices, which include handsets mobile USB modems, as well as data cards. The handsets take care of customers with different tastes and preferences and offers handsets with different price points and designs. The devices launched by this company include Blackberry Storm touch screen and iPhone (Vodafone Group Plc, 2010).
Vodafone also offer mobile broadband, which enables customers to access the internet, the broadband has speeds of up to 2.0 Mbps uplink and 7.2 Mbps downlink. The company offers laptops of different models integrated with a 3G broadband and SIM cards. This is fit at the point of manufacture.
The USB modems together with their stick are designed to use “plug and play” software. Netbooks are also available in a small and lighter design; this includes Dell mini 9 netbook (Vodafone Group Plc, 2010). Customers who would like to use broadband fixed services are provided with DSL routers in wireless and wired designed.
Vodafone also offers voice services, which constitutes the largest part of the company’s revenue; this service ensures that customers make and receive calls from the same network and the other network. The fees paid for outgoing calls are at termination rate, which is regulated by the local regulators.
The coverage of this service has been expanded internationally; therefore, customers can make and receive calls from the other operator’s mobile networks when they are abroad. There are also messaging services, which allow customers to receive and send messages, video, music, sounds and pictures using their handsets (Vodafone Group Plc, 2010).
Vodafone has other services, which help customers to access data services such as television, games, music and Internet. This is made possible through laptops, mobile phones and use of broadband modems. Customers also enjoy fixed services such as fixed line voice, fixed broadband and office phone solutions.
All this services are delivered through a well established network infrastructure where mobile and fixed voice, as well as data and message services, are delivered to customers. Customers are linked to the core network through the access network, and it is through the core network that calls are routed, messages transferred, and data connections made (Vodafail.com, 2011).
The mobile networks use 2G networks which operate through ‘GSM’ networks, this allows messaging, voice and data services. Vodafone also utilizes ‘GPRS’ network for receiving and sending data using an IP network and access to services such as email and internet access.
This company also has GPRS advanced version, which offers speeds above 200 kilobits per second to their customers. Vodafone continues to expand its coverage in Australia and upgrade its transmission infrastructure; this is to ensure that all its customers receive quality services.
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Vodafone distributes its devices through stores located in various points, in Australia, these stores are reviewed constantly to make sure that they meet market expectations (Vodafail.com, 2011). Products are sold through dealers and franchise, and their promotions are done through the Internet, which reduces promotion costs for Vodafone.
Vodafone still need to pursue growth in Australia, and its target is in the provision of mobile data, broadband as well as enterprise. Most businesses in Australia require integrated solutions, therefore, the demand for devices such as broadband is rising; this would boost its revenues because it is a customer base that needs regular use of data services (Vodafail.com, 2011).
When compared to other companies Vodafone is well established in core mobile services, it can use this advantage to broaden its market by offering fixed and mobile services and products to small and medium size businesses in Australia.
Vodafone has been losing its customers because of poor service delivery; this is a weak point that might have come to open up the company’s eye and make it realize the standard of service demanded by the Australian people.
The company should capitalize on customers’ complaints and come up with a strong and reliable service delivery system than that of its competitors, and this will bring back customers it had lost and retain as well as attract more from the other companies.
Vodafone is a foreign company based in Australia, this means that it could have problems with the local people adapting to its way of service delivery and adopting the products they offer. To solve this problem Vodafone has increased its strength by partnering with Hutchison Australia, a local operator in Australia.
This move has enabled Vodafone to market its products and services in the territory of Hutchison Australia and under the cooperation of the two companies’ development and marketing of products and services is easy (Vodafail.com, 2011).
The partnership has also helped Vodafone to gain loyalty in Australia and create additional franchise fees without any requirement for equity investment. This put Vodafone on the same level as the local companies such as Optus
Vodafone faces threats in Australia and these threats are initiated by intensifying competition from other companies offering similar products and services. In the recent times, Vodafone in Australia has faced problems with the network quality, quality of customer service, quality of products they sell and their distribution channels (Vodafone Group Plc, 2010).
These problems have reduced the rate at which Vodafone has been adding customers, lead to loss of customers to other competing companies offering the same products and services, and reduced its market size.
This is a massive threat for Vodafone because all it has worked for in Australia might go to drain if drastic measures are not taken to restore the quality of service and products offered to their customer or even improve them more (Vodafail.com, 2011). This might turn up to be costly for Vodafone because after improving its transmission infrastructure and quality of products, it has to re-advertise the products and services.
This might take up much of its funds set aside for innovation, and research and development; the company might lose its competitiveness in the Australian market without the aspect of research and development. Therefore, Vodafone should be careful in the way it handles the situation.
The messaging and data revenue for Vodafone is declining because of frequent changes in mobile phone technology; changes in technology delay adoption of new services because of availability of new mobile phones and new content services. Instability in this service affects the profit margin of Vodafone (Vodafone Group Plc, 2010).
Optus is a telecommunication company in Australia with large fleets on domestic satellites. This company offers services such as internet, radio, satellite based TV and voice mail and data services. Optus has D2 satellite which expands the existing satellite fleet; this helps Optus to provide communication services that do not much any company in Australia (Optus, 2008).
The company also provides broadcasting, broadband services as well as giving wholesale access to customers who deliver internet and subscription TV services to others. Optus have stayed in the telecommunication industry for more than twenty years, and despite its continuous success, the company still continues to invest in Australia to improve its services to customers.
Optus has also faced competition in the telecommunication industry especially in the mobile market; however, it still added 150,000 new mobile customers and increased its customers of smartphone and wireless broadband during the second quarter of the year 2010. All this is owed to differentiation of mobile offerings, strong network coverage and focus on customer experience.
The network coverage of Optus was enhanced to reach close to 97% of Australian population who use voice and data services (Optus, 2008). Optus still experienced a devastating problem caused by floods in Queensland and Cyclone Yasi, however, Optus network was strong enough to go through unaffected.
This shows that Optus has a strong network and people who work tirelessly to make sure that services are restored back to normal within a short time. This is as opposed to Vodafone which takes time to restore its services; this is an issue that has made them lose its customers to its competitors (Optus, 2010). This is a weakness Optus can capitalize on to defeat Vodafone.
Optus registered another increase in its customer in the quarter that followed; 4.8 million customers joined Optus with 1.2 million using broadband subscribers.
Optus has continued to differentiate its products in the market by launching different innovative services; these products include enhanced TV together with video application, which give Australians a free live streaming on their mobile phones (Optus, 2008). Optus has also partnered with TrueLocal.com.au, which allows the company to advertise its business online.
Optus has also shown its commitment by supporting corporate customers through launching Optus Cloud Solution. This service offers scalable and flexible approach of managing IT resources and at the same time reduces costs incurred in infrastructure (Optus, 2010).
Optus Cloud Solutions is a virtual computer with a storage capacity available on demand through a secure network connection. The company has also recorded a growth in on-net revenue from consumer and SMB fixed, and by the end of December 2010, on-net broadband customers increased to 946,000.
Optus receives a customer’s experience as a measure of their performance against their competitors, which can be measured in seven dimensions: customer service, price, billing, network, point of sale and reputation. They analyze qualitative and quantitative data from customers and other customers as well as from their expertise in these dimensions. Optus has also developed their own KPIs, which they use to measure their performance against their competitors.
When it comes to fixing performance problems as well as improving customer experience, Optus has initiated 40 significant projects with 20 already completed, and 20 are under construction (Optus, 2010).
According to Optus management understanding customers’ expectations and experience should be given a priority, and with close to 8 million customers, they have designed survey programs used to capture views and requirements and forward the information to the company.
This is done through regular interviews with customers and focus groups with the following aims: to find out whether their services are up to their customers expectations, their level of customer service when compared to their main competitors.
Optus acknowledges that customers cannot always have a satisfactory experience with the company, which results in a complaint, and since their objective is to fulfill customers’ experience, they have to handle the complaints efficiently and effectively. Optus focuses on business operations in handling of customer complaints.
They also consider the need to maintain productive relations with TIO and a feedback loop for continuous improvement of services (Optus, 2010). Their operations are directed to identifying the causes of complaints, managing it and ensure that the process has achieved their customer experience objectives. Complaints should be resolved at first contact with the customer, it not the complaint is referred to a team leader or TIO.
Fig1. Service delivery process for Optus Company
Vodafone has its own way of dealing with customers and handle their complaints. The company has received several complaints concerning the amount charged for services which was found to be incorrect by customers (Vodafail.com, 2011). These problems were blamed on unreliable Vodafone’s billing system; this system has had outages from December 2010 to January 2011.
After reporting the problem, the person concerned checked the bills and confirmed the mistakes and customers were refunded. However, the source of the problem was not investigated; therefore, it was not solved. This means that there is a possibility of the problem recurring and every now and then, and if the trend continues some customers will get tired and shift to a more service efficient company.
Sometimes customers experience dropping of calls and are charged a flag fall and every time they retrieve their calls they charged a minimum charge for it (Vodafail.com, 2011). This has resulted in high monthly bills and after monitoring the bandwidth it was realized that there was a higher usage than that of Huawei software.
This issue required that the billing services be investigated to ensure that the billing was done fairly, however, according to some customers Vodafone staff suggested to them to shift to a plan that was more expensive, and did not inform them about the new 24-month contracts (Vodafail.com, 2011).
There are other customers who signed up for three months free service, but according to others, the three months were not free because they were counted the fourth, fifth and sixth contract. This experience was not appealing to customers, and if such complaints are not well taken care of customers would not hesitate to move away from the company.
There are some cases where customers experience reception and are unable to make calls; this issue distress customers because they cannot make urgent and emergence calls and some cannot contact their families. Those who use such a service for doing business have to deal with the financial impacts associated with the technical problem (Vodafail.com, 2011).
When customers try to conduct the customer care using the given number they congest lines making it difficult for some of them to report their problem to the company.
Some Vodafone employees have not been able to solve reported problems with others denying the existence of network issues while others dismissed the problems as handset related; employees in the customer care department should report any problem that is beyond their capacity (Vodafail.com, 2011).
All this problems recurring and experienced by several customers show that Vodafone does not attend to customers complaints with the urgency, efficiency and effectiveness they deserve, and yet the problems can be easily solved through better communication between customers and company’s staff (Vodafail.com, 2011).
If the company realizes any technical problem that might disrupt their service to their customers, the first thing is to inform customers earlier through their handsets, they should handle the problem within the shortest time possible assuming that customers depend on their service alone. After the problem has been solved entirely, they should inform customers about returned normalcy as they try to monitor the systems.
Vodafone staffs seemed unaware of the steps to follow to solve a problem in a service system; therefore, each one feels not responsible for problems in the service system and again no one feels responsible for solving the problems (Vodafail.com, 2011).
The two companies should understand that effective service delivery requires constant interaction with customers; this will help them to understand the experiences of customers and their expectations, as well as their level of satisfaction.
After collecting information about customers’ experiences and expectations, these companies should be able to adjust the way they deliver their services, and services they offer to their customers so as to meet their expectations (Vodafail.com, 2011).
The companies should also understand that their customers cannot be satisfied all the time; therefore, they should expect complaints from time to time, and, in fact, these companies should treasure complaints because they give them a chance to improve on services they offer and how they offer them (Singtel, 2005).
Complaints also help them assess how efficient they are in offering their services, compared to other companies offering the same services.
The companies, therefore, should include feedback to customers in their service delivery systems any time they are handling a complaint. This is to ensure that the problem has been solved fully, and the customer is satisfied.
Fig, 2. The recommended blueprint
After the customer has reported a problem with the service he or she is receiving, the customer care should review the case to see if he or she have a capacity to solve the problem or offer assistance to the customer, if there is any technicality involved that is beyond his or her ability then the case should be forwarded to the team leader for solving problems or the TIO (Optus, 2008).
As this team work hard to solve the problem, they should maintain a feedback loop to ensure that the problem is solved effectively. Additionally, the customer should not be left in the dark regarding the problem because he or she feels the effect the most, constant feedback should be given to the customer to assure him or her that the problem is being taken care of, and the service will return to normalcy soon.
The companies should also realize that it is not only the customer to report anomalies in their service delivery, but also the technical team. Therefore, in case of a technical problem or a forecasted problem, the company should take an initiative of informing the customer before he or she notices any problem, this would help the customer plan for an alternative or use the service before it is disrupted (Hoffman, 2010).
This will reduce the inconveniences caused by the company and maintain customer relations. The customer should be informed of any interruptions of service prior to the actual interruption.
Hoffman, D. (2010). Services Marketing: Concepts, Strategies and Cases. New York: Cengage Learning.
Optus. (2010). Australian Communications and Media Authority public inquiry: Reconnecting the Customer. Web.
Optus. (2008). Business. Web.
Singtel. (2005). News Release: Strongrevenue growth of 6% across Singapore and Australia. Web.
Vodafail.com. (2011). Vodafone’s situation: yesterday, today and tomorrow. Web.
Vodafone Group Plc. (2010). Annual Report For the year ended 31 March 2009. Web.