The recent sale announcement of Vodafone comes as no surprise. What did unsettle the market is the immediacy and the total 100% sale to investors Infratil and Brookfield Asset Management for $3.4 billion. That agreement will still provide “preferential access” to Vodafone’s networks overseas, meaning customers would be able to roam on those networks when travelling abroad.

Vodafone’s CEO, Jason Paris, was installed to reshape and redirect the business into a saleable proposition sometime in 2020. Then, after the dust had settled the result could be analysed by interested parties. Vodafone NZ needed to recalibrate its operation due to the unenviable poor results, making losses in 2016/17 and less than a 1% profit in 2017/18! We assume the restructure will continue under the new ownership structure.

As a business customer, you will be wondering what this means to you. Voluntary and forced redundancies had some negative impacts that will continue to affect Vodafone for the next 2-3 years based on previous patterns with other service providers. Vodafone has bolstered their sales team with new recruits but, a lot ‘old heads’ have left, eliminating valuable IP in an already stretched organisation. It is difficult to believe that service and support will be not be impacted.

The slow walk backwards has meant that service providers are cutting costs by moving their service and support onto online portals and offshoring backroom services to India or other cheaper labour economies. This outsourcing is something not restricted to regular customer services but has extended to business support such as technical design, legal and commercial services. This type of business model transfers risk and cost to you, the client and restricts flexibility.

Some of you will remember having a sizeable account management team, including engineering and technical support. Most of our clients have managed to retain an Account Manager and Customer Service Manager by good vendor management practice. However, we have seen this support structure drastically shrink over the last few years, and it’s likely to continue to reduce.

Failings in customer support is an ongoing issue across the board. It is anybody’s guess how this will affect your current service and support from whichever service provider you use. To ensure you have at least some cooperation, you will need to negotiate transparent, measurable, robust governance and SLAs. These clearly defined measures are then built into future commercial agreements to mitigate against these risks.

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