US$650,000 overhaul

Telecommunications giant Vodafone Egypt has found that installing BMC Software’s Remedy applications has resolved its customer service issues.

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By  Sarah Gain Published  March 1, 2005

US$650,000 overhaul|~|John-woods---in.gif|~|The operator needed a stronger IT platform, says BMC’s John Woods.|~|Over the last year, Vodafone Egypt has invested approximately US$650,000 in modernising its IT infrastructure in a bid to increase its efficiency and boost customer service.

A key part of this initiative has been the implementation of BMC’s remedy solution, which has allowed the company to streamline the way lost and damaged mobile phones are logged and tracked, and monitor the malfunctions customers experienced with their pre-paid recharge phone cards.

Vodafone Egypt purchased the solutions from Cybermak Information System (CIS), which is Remedy’s partner in the Middle East. CIS also managed the project over a three-month period.

The operator, which has invested more than US485 million in the construction of its existing network and has 2,000 employees, needed a robust IT platform in order to cope with its current customer base of more than 3 million subscribers.

In 2003, Vodafone Egypt launched a general packet radio service (GPRS) network, the technology backbone that allows information to be sent and received across a mobile network, and which enabled a worldwide launch of “Vodafone live” service. This was followed by “mobile office from Vodafone” and related services such as “Vodafone Mobile Connect,” which utilises GPRS to re-engineers mobile business communications. All these new initiatives were not possible on its existing network.

John Woods, the regional manager for BMC’s service management business unit, says this approach meant that the business systems were not able to meet the company’s needs. “They did not have a central repository for the data or the knowledge and there was no fault tracking capabilities.”

Woods explains that, as a result, Vodafone Egypt’s response times were extremely slow. At times it took the company as long as 30 hours to respond to a problem. Clearly, this had a negative impact on customer satisfaction, as many customers found themselves having to cope without mobile phones for long periods before repairs could be done.

Prior to the installation of the new applications, Vodafone Egypt relied on a heavily customised version of Remedy 3.1, which was proving too primitive to meet all its businesses requirements. Most business procedures were being handled manually, a system that had many defects and limitations.

One area that was proving extremely taxing for Vodafone Egypt was the process for managing the logging and tracking of lost or faulty mobile phones. Individual retail outlets had to deal with the issues manually—a time-consuming, arduous task that did not sit well with a company focused on cutting-edge technology.

According to Abdelfattah Mabrouk, customer relationship management (CRM) systems manager for Vodafone Egypt, the versatility and adaptability of the Remedy applications was a significant factor in the decision to choose the new solution. “What is most impressive about Remedy help desk and the other Remedy applications is that the solutions are so easy to implement out-of-the-box. We were looking for a solution that was simple, easy to deploy and did the job. Remedy solutions provided all of those things,” he explains.

“We did not have any problems during the implementation because the solutions were easy to deploy. Also, we did not have to do much customisation. Our IT team customised the applications by less than 10%.”

However, today things are different for Vodafone Egypt. As a result of the upgraded IT platform, the company has achieved an incredible turnaround in the quality of service, virtually eliminating delays and cutting the response time to just two minutes.

“The new solutions are working extremely well for us and the return on investment (ROI) is huge. The two-minute response time is a big achievement for us as an organisation,” says Mabrouk.

In addition, the robust technology has also provided an easy way for Vodafone Egypt’s sales representatives to log problems in stores. The company’s inhouse team has developed a customer query and complaint application based on Remedy’s AR system, and created an interface between the solution and the store-based point-of-sale system. The AR system in turn interfaces with the company’s billing system, allowing rapid and smooth transmission of information.

This bespoke application has also helped the company in resolving the issue of malfunctioning rechargeable phone cards that had eluded the company’s experts. The new application also allows the company to log and track reports of recharge card problems, giving Vodafone Egypt staff an insight into the matter.

For example, Mohamed Abdelaleem, Vodafone Egypt’s CRM systems senior business analyst, says the issue with the scratch-off plastic coating on the back of the cards simply had not come to light under the company’s old system.

“On the manual system we were unable to get a realise the extent of the problem,” he says, “but only one week after the installation we were able to see that there had been a significant rise in the number of problems customers were experiencing with the cards. A decision was made to change the supplier of the recharge cards. Now, the problems of this nature have been reduced by 98%.”

Furthermore, the deployment has proved to be a significant turning point for Vodafone Egypt as the Remedy package has benefited the company not only in terms of enhanced customer service, but also from a financial standpoint.

“We have gained this very aggressive payback in terms of the outbound and inbound calls that customers are now able to make, and the additional revenue that it is generating,” says Mabrouk. “[The new system] has enabled us to introduce new processes to overcome the problems, helped us enhance our services and generate more revenue.”

The BMC application has also helped the Egyptian company save a considerable amount of money by reducing the volume of calls to the company’s call centre and, as Mohamed Abdelaleem points out, “the installation required fewer alterations to the existing system than its competitors might have.” He adds that, “while alternative systems might have required retraining, the Remedy system did not. It’s an easy tool, so the training overhead was also minimal.”

Vodafone Egypt has recently reported an annual return-on-investment (ROI) of approximately US$808,000, thanks not only to the implementation of these solutions, but also as a result of automating its entire change management system.

Cybermak will also provide the company with round-the-clock assistance, so while Vodafone Egypt is able to manage and run the new system, it has the advantage of an extensive support system should it be required. The post-installation support has been strong according to Abdelaleem, who says the communication and assistance made the whole installation and upgrade process as effortless and efficient as possible.

“We have a great IT department inhouse, however the Cybermak team has been excellent,” he says. “The two teams have a successful relationship and we have seen significant improvements throughout the company in the last twelve months.”

Vodafone Egypt has been so satisfied with the outcome that the company has expanded its usage of the new solutions to other departments of the company, including engineering, network and human resources. Where previously all the various business activities ran on disparate manual systems, they now have a unified, homogeneous system and the whole operation has been consolidated, streamlining procedures and making the company as a whole more time and cost efficient.

The operator has a fully integrated Service Level Agreement (SLA) with BMC, as it will ensure that Vodafone Egypt’s standards of quality of service and support will not just be met, but will be exceeded in the future. “As Vodafone Egypt matures through its IT phases it will want to make sure its measures up to all its services with its customers, internal and external. The SLA package is going to be fundamental to the company in doing this effectively,” explains BMC’s John Woods.

Vodafone Egypt also plans to give customers access to Remedy applications through a URL on the company’s website to assist with problem report and tracking. The move will improve communication and enhance customer support by enabling customers to deal with problems and queries themselves, thus lowering the number of calls to the help line, resulting in further savings for the company.||**||

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