Right around the beginning of January, I finally decided to ditch my primordial Nokia phone and join the smartphone revolution. I’d had the same phone for years, since it had managed not to break and had always done a good enough job that I could put up with it, but the time had come, so I walked into the Vodafone Store in Bristol, old phone in hand.
They greeted me straight away and asked what I was looking for, then sat me down. After only a few minutes, one of their team came to get me – she was called Meg, and I remember that because she was brilliant.
She found a space where we could sit down, with a computer screen so she could show me everything that was going on. After we established that I was definitely after a smartphone, and I showed off my Stone-Age Nokia, she talked me through the available models and contracts, and even threw in a personal recommendation – not an upsell, just some honest advice. The whole thing felt very informal, friendly and easy-going, like a sit-down with a friend rather than some pressurised corporate upsell, and it made a lovely change from the norm when dealing with phone companies.
We upgraded my old contract (which was ancient enough not to be included as an option on their computer systems) and added data allowances and an iPhone 5 for only £23 per month! This was far cheaper than I was expecting, and really put a smile on my face. Meg took the time to explain a bit about my shiny new phone, and gave me a few tips to help me land on my feet in the fast-moving world of smartphone ownership.
After that I went home and started setting up the phone, transferring contacts and getting onto the wi-fi to download the apps I wanted. I waited for the phone to get signal as a sign that my number had been transferred successfully, but after two days, nothing had happened.
I did a little reading online about whether this was a common problem (and how to fix it) but the information was contradictory, so I decided to call the experts: Vodafone themselves.
I found the Vodafone customer care number online, and called them up, which involved more automated robo-menus that I would have liked, but after a few cycles of pressing “one” on command, I was through to a real, genuine human being (or another robot, but one which was far, far better at sounding human). Sadly, I can’t remember his name, but after several rounds of unhelpful automated phone lines, I was very happy to hear his voice.
He was very helpful and very clued-in, asking me exactly what the problem was and how long it had been going on, and reassuring me that it’s normal for a number transfer to take a day or more. He also suggested a very simple fix that I hadn’t found online, and had somehow failed to figure out myself: just rebooting the phone and allowing it to search for networks upon starting back up. Failing that, he said, I could call him back and we’d go from there. I ended the call and found my phone, before restarting it.
As it rebooted, I held my breath in anticipation. I couldn’t look. Then a text came through from the previous night. Success!
Starting with Meg in the store, and later with my unnamed hero on the phone lines, this was a great performance from Vodafone’s customer service departments. When the phone failed to connect, it looked like a failure on their part and could have resulted in a confused, annoyed customer, but their customer helpline really turned it around, from a stressful experience into a moment of great customer service.
Whenever I look at that shiny new phone, I’ll think of those Vodafone heroes.
Dan Goss is the editor of Customer Service Guru, When he isn’t writing about customer service, he likes to run around different shops looking for it in the wild.