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My Vodafone Germany experience

There is a huge opportunity to not only learn from best practices … but also from real life failure that factually continues to happen day by day. Let me share an example out of my own life.

I am not only a customer experience professional, I am also a customer myself. We all are.

As a private citizen, I had been a customer of Vodafone (Germany). And I had been their customer for maaaaany years. Factually, since my very first phone, ages ago, back in 199x, when Vodafone in Germany still had been “D2”. In all those years I never a reason to change, as everything always worked well, and Vodafone was continuously flexible enough with adjusting my contract to my changes in life. I am a really loyal customer when I am happy with a product and/or service, you know!

Now, for reasons that don’t really matter for the story, earlier this year I decided to change. Vodafone didn’t do something wrong. I just found a better offer by a competitor. But the experience I made with Vodafone during the following leave process changing the provider was a disaster, I am afraid to say. This is not about blaming. This is more on sharing the experience and learning from failure.

My journey in a nutshell …
  • Early March 2023 – I was mandating and formally authorizing an intermediary agent to switch my mobile connection from Vodafone to another vendor (including the porting of my phone number). In my home country (as in the whole EU), all telco vendors are legally obliged to provide a smooth transition. So, this is not a nice to have or extra service, this is minimum to deliver.
  • After 2 weeks with no reaction by Vodafone on the agent’s request, I was sending an additional contract termination declaration via a ‘termination declaration form’ inside my customer profile in the Vodafone Germany customer portal.
  • Confusing response by Vodafone, that I would need to provide the email address I am registered with … while had sent the termination declaration out of my logged-in Vodafone profile. …?
  • The answer by me to this request was ignored, with no reaction.
  • So, I repeated the ‘termination declaration form’ inside my customer profile in the Vodafone Germany customer portal … with no reaction or support of the transition process by Vodafone.
  • So, I sent a registered paper(!) letter to Vodafone Germany HQ, repeating my termination declaration, asking for phone number porting and to provide my with a date of the switch … with no reaction or feedback by Vodafone via any channel or format. Except …
  • EO April, precisely the day I was sitting at the airport heading Pharma Reuters in Barcelona, without any pre-notice, my Vodafone connection was switched off and left me disconnected from my private channels.
  • Until today, in August 2023, I did never get any note by Vodafone. Not speaking about a nice “goodbye, looking forward to having you with Vodafone again”. Just nothing. I left Vodafone with experiencing actually no relation at all, after ~25 years being a customer.

OK, doing a quick check with you. Taking the customer’s perspective, do you think this has been a great experience? How would you feel having this experience yourself?

I don’t know what the root causes of the shown vendor behavior are. Are the Vodafone Germany customer service agents overloaded? Does Vodafone have the wrong (= not customer-driven) KPIs and performance measures? Is the customer portal not well-designed, or are data from the portal not consistently available across the enterprise? No clue! But as a customer, I should not at all need to think about. But should simply have enjoyed a great experience with Vodafone, even at the end of the relation.

Vodafone did not consider one simple and basic sales rule …
“A leaving customer = a new target customer, a potentially returning customer”

But less in my case now. I am definitely leaving Vodafone with a higher hesitance to move back to them in the future, even provided their value for money might be higher again. They left “burned earth” with a long-term customer relationship.

To end positively looking ahead…

what can we learn from this failure story …
  1. the contract termination and leaving process is also part of the customer’s journey
  2. experiences of leaving customers are part of the overall customer experience provided
  3. customer services & helpdesks have the potential of providing an unbeatable customer experience … in either way
  4. not reacting, responding, answering is the worst customer experience you can provide … and the killer of any relation
  5. great experiences of leaving customers can lead to increased returning customer rates, but also fewer customers sharing their bad experiences in social media and a lower risk of negative publicity

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