Customer & Partner Success

Vodafone Shares a Blueprint for How Providers Can Help Business Customers Fight Disruption

By Ideas @ AppDirect / April 23, 2020

Vodafone Shares a Blueprint for How Providers Can Help Business Customers Fight Disruption

As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the globe, telecom providers have gone above and beyond to help ensure that vital communication networks and digital services remain online, even in the face of unprecedented demand. For many businesses, especially small to medium-sized companies, these solutions have been a lifeline as their organizations have made the transition to remote work.

But as we enter a new normal, some providers are thinking about what comes next. For Vodafone, it’s trying to help customers switch gears. "How do we get our business customers over the emergency and then into being more productive? That's the question we're really thinking about," says Simon Lee-Smith, Head of Small and Medium Enterprise at Vodafone Business Cloud and Security.

It's a question that many providers are now grappling with. According to a small AppDirect survey, 39 percent of providers said that only one to 25 percent of their customers were well-prepared to work remotely before the pandemic, while 17 percent said that 26 to 50 percent of their customers were prepared. That's more than half of all providers, 56 percent, whose customers most likely need significant help adjusting to the new way of working.

A Quick Response Anchored by Digital Marketplaces

At Vodafone, speed was a critical factor to help address the problem. "At first, we wanted to be able to quickly help our customers who were really struggling," Lee-Smith says. "These businesses needed to create a remote working environment for their customers, so we spun up digital marketplaces to provide access to remote work solutions and other services."

He continues: “Working with AppDirect, we were able to launch a new SaaS marketplace in probably a week to create a place where we could offer free Microsoft licenses, provide access to productivity tools, to security capabilities, and other vital tools. We wanted to make sure that small businesses had access to video conferencing and solutions to help them stay connected.”

Vodafone also had to find a way to help less tech-savvy customers, including those that didn’t have an online presence at all. As Lee-Smith explains, "We offer a lot of software and services, but had to think about how to help businesses who don't have the capability to use the digital services we provide.”

To accomplish this, Vodafone focused on acting as more than just a service provider. "We started to give advice and support to our business customers in multiple ways," Lee-Smith says. "We created a public website that offers advice, support tips, and other information, and then we retrained some of our retail staff to answer customer calls and become advisors. Now, our business customers can easily find out how to use our network capability, how to use Microsoft Teams or Office 365, how to use Google Hangouts, and even how to migrate from on premise to cloud."

Providing Even More Onboarding and Activation Support

As an experienced business SaaS provider, Vodafone has always made it a priority to offer onboarding and activation support to its customers. Now, the company is offering even more post-sale support to help ensure that customers get the most out of their solutions. "We're actually expanding our services so that it's more than just a 'here's how you use this application'-type experience," Lee-Smith says. "We're providing guidance on how customers can integrate solutions more seamlessly into their existing technology stack, as well as how they can optimize and use them more effectively."

Beyond these practical tips, Lee-Smith points to an even more fundamental ingredient that is essential for helping businesses cope with drastic change: empathy. “We've always been a customer-led business, but our tone of voice has changed dramatically,” Lee-Smith says. “Now it’s not just about driving value, it’s about connecting for good. We need to keep businesses in business so that we can all evolve and develop in the future.”

To hear more insights from Simon Lee-Smith about how providers can help their customers adjust to the new normal, click below to view our recent webinar, “How Vodafone Is Helping Disrupted Businesses.”