Here’s how Vodafone is getting digital transformation right

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The term ‘digital transformation’ is so overused it’s easy to forget the outcomes that operators are trying to achieve when they embark on these programs. Here’s an example of one telco that knows exactly what it wants from its digital transformation initiative – and is getting it.

Have you reached digital transformation fatigue yet? It has fast become the most over overused term in many an industry, telecoms in particular. The term has almost lost all meaning, but I think the ‘Digital Vodafone’ initiative nails what’s it’s really all about from a telecoms point of view. It’s about moving from ‘mostly human to mostly digital’ interactions with your customers. This really captures the essence of what operators are trying to achieve from a digital customer management point of view.

For those of you who don’t trawl through the Investor Relations sections of telecoms operators, I have pulled out some of the key metrics that Vodafone are tracking in this regard from their Q1 2018 report. They are looking to move their self-care app penetration rates from 60% in March 2018 to 95% in March 2021. In a nod to the ‘mostly human’ current state, roughly 1% of customer interactions are carried out via a chat bot in March 2018 but they expect this to rise to 60% by 2021. Their Tobi chatbot – which they have launched in a number of markets – is gaining traction and acceptance by subscribers. It handles 805,000 interactions per month in the Italian customer base and resolves 70% of queries. This percentage will only rise as the technology behind the chatbot improves. In 2018, an average Vodafone customer will have 1.9 queries per year that require human agent intervention. Based on enhanced self-care penetration and chat bot advancements, they expect this to drop to 1.2 queries per year in 2021.

Getting subscribers to download and interact with their operator in a ‘digital’ way is only half the battle. A recent Gartner report highlighted by Disruptive Asia shows that “across all industries at least 84% of consumers say their experiences with using digital tools and services fall short of expectations”. If 60% of Vodafone customers currently have their self-care app installed, what percentage of these customer use it on a weekly basis? From Android data, we know that an app will lose 90% of its daily active users in the first 30 days. How can mobile operators buck this trend and create an experience that will see subscribers not only downloading but actively engaging with their services?

It starts with providing a seamless and speedy on boarding journey and by making sure all possible changes can be enabled via the self-care app. In an upcoming webinar this week, we explore ten ways that mobile operators can become a digital companion for their subscribers, and look at why service providers are using apps to increase customer interaction and revenues at all stages in the customer lifecycle.

Sean Broderick, senior product manager at OpenetWritten by Sean Broderick, senior product manager at Openet


  1. Is this a joke? I’m a U.K. business customer and cannot have a self care app as I’m on an old billing stack and migration has been delayed over 6 months – it has led to billshock, unexessary data overages, and overall is an awful experience. Takes 20 clicks just to print out a bill from an old portal. Shocking

  2. Any data of how successful is this app to tackle the queries? instead of telling 805k queries, please give the comparison if it’s handled by human. Anyway, how many human actually has been replaced by this app?

  3. Sean may very well be right, but to me what is referred to as of how Vodafone is going about “transformation” (to which I agree is a misused terminology, as transformation in itself is a result and not an objective), I am not at all sure, and I stress sure. To me the fundamentals are the same same old). The primary initiatives are based on technical feasibilities and not factual desirabilities, nor viabilities. We do know for a fact that from what people answer in survey cannot be regarded as factual measures for what they actually will do or welcome. Additionally, all measurements you refer to are Vodafone measures and not at all idea prototyped and tested with customers and what actual benefits customers can expect.

    In essence the same approach and methodologies as us in telecoms have followed for the last 3 decades. All progress happens outside of comfort zones, and it does not appear to me that it is happening in this case.

  4. Sean, you are obviously are not a current Vodafone customer otherwise you would know that however good the headline the day to day reality of service with Vodafone UK is a hit and miss. So either your questions are simple enough for the thousand odd chatbots to resolve or they end up being too complex for the SPOC to resolve and 2 calls are needed.
    Digital Transformation may have sounded exciting in Newbury as well as towards the markets but leaves us customers with Stockholm syndrome.

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