Mark Gait, Head of Customer Service at O2 UK, discusses waiting times, getting the basics right and what can be learned from other brands. In this year’s UK Customer Satisfaction Index, giffgaff and Tesco Mobile were ranked as the leading telcos. Why do you think MVNOs outperform network operators and what lessons can you learn from how they operate?

Mark Gait: MVNOs offer a different customer proposition to mobile operators. 

For example, customers entering into a relationship with giffgaff know that traditional customer service channels, such as call centres and store staff support, aren’t available. 

This means that customer expectations towards the level of service they receive is different and incomparable with what our customers expect. 

In April, Ofcom found that O2 customers were kept waiting the longest to speak to a customer services advisor. What are you doing to improve this?

Overall, we’re pleased that Ofcom’s report shows that we’re the mobile network operator with the highest customer satisfaction and unbeaten mobile phone reception in the UK, as well as how we compared with the other main networks in the report.

In terms of call waiting times, this is something that we’re improving and we’ve already put measurements in place to reduce this time. 

Our customer led strategy means we relentlessly focus on delivering the best possible service every time.

In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of customers choosing to use using MyO2 and web chat rather than contacting our call centres.

Ofcom CEO Sharon White said that there needed to be a “service revolution in the telecoms sector”. Do you agree and what are the key things that need to change?

It’s clear that the telecoms industry as a whole versus other UK business sectors needs to improve customer service levels. 

It’s about focusing on the basics and doing them well to reduce customer effort. 

It’s also about making the process as flexible and seamless as possible. 

This is in line with our customer-led approach and our consistently strong results when it comes to mobile operator customer satisfaction and complaints, demonstrates that this strategy is working.      

At the European Communications customer experience seminar last year, you said that telcos needed to compare what they do with companies outside the sector rather than each other. Who do you regard as setting the benchmark for customer service currently and why?

We firmly believe that we can always learn from other brands and we review the customer service processes across a wide range of industries and organisations on an ongoing basis. 

Likewise, many organisations contact us to find out more about the digital transformation of our service process.  

When we look at independent insight, we can see brands like John Lewis are admired for fairness and trust, Amazon for flexibility and First Direct for proactive customer service.

Looking ahead, Telefonica is launching Aura, its digital assistant, over the next 12 months. What impact do you think this can have on the customer service that you provide in the UK?

Aura will be a natural extension to the customer service options we already provide, giving our customers even more choice in how they want to engage with us.

We already provide them with the option to talk with us on the phone or through web chat as well as talking to our O2 gurus in store.

Millions of our customers already use our popular MyO2 service, which provides self-service options.

We are committed to delivering the best possible service to our customers.

Aura will be a further example of this giving customers additional flexibility in how they manage their relationship with us.

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