CRM Insanity (An Update)

I’ve elected to switch to 3 and have shortlisted some options for the home phone. I made comments to that effect on Twitter this morning.

At 12:32 today Vodafone Ireland contacted me on Twitter (after I’d posted a few tweets back to this post) and Daz on that team is looking into the situation. As of 13:09, apparently they have managed to secure stock in a local Vodafone store for me.  (Why they couldn’t do this on FRIDAY or any other time I’ve rung them over the past few weeks, or when I went into that shop on Friday, baffles me).

I’ve indicated I’m holding off going switching until 13:30 today.

But it appears that to get Vodafone to actually give a shit you have to be either a non-customer who they wish to woo or a high “cost-to-service” complainer who goes very public with problems. That too is just plain insane CRM, which results in people like Steven (who I spoke to on Friday) and Daz having to bear the brunt of customer issues that COULD BE AVOIDED with a bit of sanity.

I fully accept that Vodafone have supply issues with the iPhone4 (which no other network seems to have BTW). It makes sense to ration the supply and impose some restrictions. But to completely block existing customers from the upgrade makes no strategic sense (unless Voda want to get rid of existing iphone customers to other networks). This is particularly the case for Voda who will soon have a lot of customers who took the 3Gs when it came out on Vodafone looking to upgrade after 12 months on an 18month contract (thereby locking them in to another contract).

A better approach might be to:

  • Require new customers to enter into a longer contract (“Hey, you can have it. But it is in short supply so you’ll need to give us your soul for 6 months longer to get it”).
  • Allow customers who have been with you less than 24 months to get it but only if they go for certain tariffs.
  • Allow existing customers who are over 24 months on contract to upgrade as normal.

Supply is rationed. Everyone can GET the phone, but existing customers in good standing have a reward for not churning out to competitor.

Of course, Vodafone now have the issue that I’m pissed off. And publicly so.

Just getting me the iphone isn’t going to be enough now (I know I can get it with 3). So there will now be an additional retention cost to be built into the deal (which would be on top of the 1 month credit I’d already been offered due to other screw ups on my account).

THIS IS AN AVOIDABLE COST, or would have been if they hadn’t had such crappy customer service up to this point. Now it is pretty much required as I can get the same phone for cheaper cost and similar cost per month on the other network, with whom I have no current frustration (Vodafone on the other hand have

  • left me with the wrong SIM card type for the phone I have
  • failed to properly activate my mobile broadband dongle when I upgraded it late last year
  • failed to keep my personal data accurate and up to date as per the Data Protection Acts
  • failed the attitude test about the iphone upgrade)
  • send me direct marketing pieces addressed to “Ms Daragh O Brien”

By having a screwed up CRM strategy for existing customers, Vodafone have put themselves in the position where they are now negotiating with me to stay, not simply handing me some forms and taking my money.