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For Vodafone, success is a matter of perception

As of April 1, Vodafone  scrapped roaming charges for the entire spectrum of its packages. Meanwhile, the size of the monthly data bundles given to users has ballooned and customer satisfaction rates are hitting new highs. Alexandre Froment-Curtil,  director of the consumer business unit, says that true success comes only if customers have the perception they are getting great value.

Alexandre Froment-Curtil, director of the consumer business unit at Vodafone Hungary.

You’ve been working for Vodafone Hungary for nearly three and a half years. You can hardly claim you have had an uneventful time!

There’s been a lot going on, for certain, both in the industry and in the life of Vodafone. A new customer service center has been established in Miskolc with a roughly half a billion forint investment in order to provide premium assistance for Red customers. Now they get connected to a member of our own qualified staff within six seconds, which is a truly amazing figure. For our business customers we have launched real innovations such as ReadyPay, which provides a convenient and cost-effective mobile payment method for small businesses. We have also gone paperless in our offices and in our shops on the road towards carbon neutrality.

Vodafone’s unlimited package, RED, fascinated chat-loving crowds enormously as it was revolutionary at the time of its launch. It unfolded on your watch and must have contributed to the fact that customer satisfaction among Vodafone users is particularly high on the market.

All of our steps are intended to strengthen the perception that clients get unique services from us. For example, the quality of the network experience is exceptionally strong. Network and data coverage are both super-high, with 98% broadband coverage and the largest 4G network in Europe. Being on Red is also a major driver of that satisfaction. RED customers used 75 million minutes free when they were abroad this year. And we strive to solve customer problems better. Take our policy according to which your handset is insured under Red. The Red assistant service is certainly also a key part of that high satisfaction. One customer called nine times in a row to check whether our advertisement was for real, that we picked up the phone so quickly... and then, finally, he concluded that, yes, it’s really true!

Among Hungarian providers, Vodafone was the first to scrap roaming costs within the European Union for Red EU customers. And now, as of April 1, all postpaid package subscribers get the same treatment.

This has, again, to do with the fact that our goal is to provide great value. We have a deep belief that, if it’s good for the customers, it will be good for the business. Many Red customers who go abroad have become a ‘hotspot’ for family and friends due to the abolishing of roaming charges and the strong network in Europe. Now that we are abolishing roaming as such for all postpaid packages, that value gets elevated to a whole new level. We have even launched an option for prepaid cards to also be exempt from roaming charges.

Data bundles grew massively in parallel, so you are clearly reacting to users’ growing data appetite.

People have more sophisticated phones, the existing 4G networks are very strong, and so data usage is bound to go up. The largest, Red Extra EU+ package offers as much as 5GB, while in the Red EU Medium+ package the data allowance will grow from 2GB to 3GB per month. Even in the Red Basic EU+ service package, the size of the available data bundle will double to 1GB and more basic plans like Go EU and Go+EU will see the same ‘doubling’ effect. On top of that, the prices of new Red EU+ packages remain unchanged.

Conventional television watching is out, and on-demand is in. Your Red Mozi solution aims to respond to this trend. The exclusive release of the Hungarian Academy Award Winning film, ‘The Son of Saul’ on April 1 is evidently meant to ride this wave. 

One extra we pride ourselves on is to make available to our Red customers one movie per week free that has just been released on DVD. It’s called the Red premiere and it’s been received very positively. Under another unique Red service, up to five people may log in at a time to watch the same movie. This allows families or friends to enjoy films together, among others, by casting them on TV. The experience is enriched in this way. Alternatively, three different movies can be watched on three different devices at one time, to fulfill diverse needs.

Families constitute a key audience for you in other respects as well, but one that needs to be addressed in a carefully structured way. What’s your key to their heart?

Families are core elements of society. For one, we would like to address them as a community, but we also recognize that every individual is different. One straightforward benefit we emphasize is that, if you choose Vodafone, every member of the family can talk to each other free of charge. On the other hand, the more SIMs you have with us from within a family, the bigger the discount per SIM will be.

I have two children, seven and nine years old, respectively. How are the youngest encouraged to become devoted Vodafone fans?

The package I am particularly proud of is Kid, which is supposed to be your child’s first SIM. No top-up obligation is attached to this pre-paid card; yet, in turn, the child can call the family for free. Once they grow a bit older, they should find our Young package appealing, where data is over-indexed.

Under your Digital School Program, Vodafone aims to improve the digital knowledge of socially disadvantaged pupils and promote the digital transformation of education in Hungary by providing state-of-the-art devices for free. As many as 6,424 pupils and 690 teachers are involved in 25 schools all over the country. What has the feedback been like from users, and what is the future for this initiative?

We encounter immense enthusiasm on the part of everybody. It’s always a great moment to go to a school and show the children how to use the devices. Phase one is to equip people. That’s what this program is about in the first place, but that’s when phase two kicks in, where we try to educate teachers to become more digitally savvy. Thirdly, through the Vodafone Hungary Foundation, we are working together with the Foundation for the Schoolchildren of Hejőkeresztúr, which is specialized in digital education. We want to influence the way that education as such is transformed digital. We firmly believe that this results in such general achievements as higher school attendance and lower dropout rates, because kids’ excitement is much higher. Vodafone has been in this country for 16 years and when we do such a great thing, on such a large scale, it really feels good.