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The Carphone Warehouse - An Update

Operating in a fiercely competitive sector such as the mobile phone industry requires tenacity and a commitment to change, if and when the market requires.

Carphone Warehouse, Europe’s leading independent retailer of mobile phones and services, strives to deliver the best possible experience for each and every customer through continuous investment in its operational networks. One area which has experienced significant improvement is the billing operations, with the introduction of rigorous processes and procedures to help ensure every customer is billed correctly.

n this case study, Anne Beitel, Managing Director of Executives Online, explains how its executive level candidate has played an integral role in delivering a robust CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and billing platform for Carphone Warehouse – a system which is helping to relieve unwanted pressure throughout other areas of the business, as well as enhancing the overall customer experience and improving customer retention.

Faced with the prospect of its customer base increasing from 750,000 to three million in just 18 months due to recent company acquisitions, Carphone Warehouse recognised that significant transformation needed to take place within the support and billing functions, to ensure the business remained competitive, and continued to deliver a high quality experience for its customers.

Matthew Peers, Director at Carphone Warehouse explains: “Once we had acknowledged that in order to transform Carphone Warehouse into a 21st century organisation we needed to bring someone on board with a comprehensive understanding of telecoms billing, and the ability to motivate and lead the team through the changes that needed to be made. Furthermore we needed to bring them on board quickly. By effectively interpreting the job brief and aligning itself with our business requirements, Executives Online responded quickly with a high quality short list of executive level candidates. This resulted in us finding exactly the right person for the position and Greg B, whose previous experience of our industry was exemplary, was identified within a matter of days.”

The complexity of the task ahead meant that Greg faced a number of challenges in his new role, challenges which he clearly thrived on, quickly demonstrating a willingness to make things happen. Greg’s main role was to implement a more robust CRM and billing system as Carphone Warehouse was experiencing needless costs and anxiety throughout other parts of the business due to incorrect bills being issued to customers. Furthermore, additional pressure was being placed on advisors within the contact centres because of the influx in complaint calls coming through.

Greg brought a proven track record and the necessary know-how and expertise to transform the way in which we operate as a business

The three main gaps that existed within the billing structure of the organisation were accuracy, timeliness and completeness. Peers continues: “By successfully implementing the CRM and billing system, Greg has been able to plug the gaps that existed within the business and improve the operational performance beyond recognition. Advisors within our contact centres are now able to spend more time upselling other products and help to improve customer growth, whilst reducing the costs of servicing customers due to the noticeable decrease in billing query calls.

Our mission is to provide the best possible service for our customers and having a reliable and effective CRM and billing platform is at the heart of ensuring we can deliver that promise.”

The challenges of implementing such a system were further exasperated due to a number of company acquisitions including Tele2. Naturally, Tele2 had its own way of working and it was part of Greg’s responsibility to ensure that Tele2’s billing processes and procedures could fully integrate into the existing platform, in order for customers to avoid any unnecessary complications with their bills.

Quality assurance is of the utmost importance for Carphone Warehouse which is why Greg also provided the necessary support to launch an initiative which would see the organisation sending its bills to its operations in India. This additional layer of quality control ensures that accurate and complete bills were being sent to customers.

By improving the accuracy of the bills being sent, Greg has precipitated cost savings of approximately 35% year on year, to be made in the production and posting processes. He explains: “If you make a mistake which means you have to recall for example, 30,000 statements from customers, then this requires a significant amount of reprinting. Couple this with the possibility of losing customers because of such simple mistakes – all of which can have a detrimental effect on the business.”

Greg’s contribution to the business is evident through the yearly audits conducted by Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. Under Greg’s stewardship over the past five years, Carphone Warehouse has passed the audit which closely scrutinises the processes and improvements within the business.

Throughout his tenure at Carphone Warehouse, Greg has added considerable value to other, more generic business transformation and change programmes within the business including the introduction of a new contact centre in South Africa where he managed the whole process. This involved operational and technical support as well as the management of the vendors, network providers and data centre. It took six months for the contact centre to become operational and Greg continued to provide ongoing support for the team to ensure any issues could be eradicated quickly.

Peers concludes: “By sourcing exactly the right candidate, Executives Online has helped Carphone Warehouse to drive its business forward. Greg brought a proven track record and the necessary know-how and expertise to transform the way in which we operate as a business, ensuring that we remain competitive in an extremely tough market but most importantly, we continue to provide the ultimate experience for our customers.”