Enterprise and SMB customers stand to benefit from corporate-wide plan to rescue struggling customer service reputation, analyst says

Rogers Communications Inc. last week unveiled a multi-year plan to work on improving the company’s less-than-stellar reputation for customer service, while building its revenue and cash flow vis-a-vis its competitors. Rogers says the new plan was developed with feedback from customers, employees and shareholders.

At least one telecommunications industry observer welcomed the customer service focus as good news for business customers. Roberta Fox, chairman of Fox Group Technology, a Mount Albert, Ont.-based telecom consultancy, believes they are the ones who stand to gain the most from the drive to improve the company’s service to its customers.

“We think that SMB and enterprise customers will benefit much more than consumers, particularly since business customers are deploying mobility solutions more and more,” Fox told IT World Canada. “Most of our business customers are asking for wireless vendors to offer enterprise grade service and support bundled with the wireless devices and network, and also for improvements in telecommunications expense management billing and device management.”

There could be a boost to the bottom line too. Fox said a recent Fox Group report noted a linkage between a focus on customer service and improved financial results – in the case of Telus.

The need to revisit the enterprise and business side was also highlighted by Guy Laurence, the company’s freshly minted president and CEO. Laurence was brought on board last December. Formerly CEO of Vodafone UK, Laurence engineered a turnaround of that company.

“I believe that Canadian businesses are currently underserved by all operators,” Laurence told reporters last week. “We are underrepresented in share, but in general, I believe there’s a number of services that are just not there that will increase productivity in Canadian companies. I’ve done this before in my previous job. In our reorganization, we have split out consumer from enterprise, and we believe there’s a growth story in enterprise.”

Dubbed “Rogers 3.0,” the plan will see the company relaunch itself under the “One Rogers” banner. Business and consumer units will be separated. The consumer unit will report directly to the CEO and manage all customer-facing functions, including call centres, field operations, go-to-market and online channels.

“Every day I marvel at what an amazing company [Rogers founder Ted Rogers] built,” Laurence said. “The mix of assets, the culture of innovation and depth of employee pride is extraordinary. But we’ve neglected our customers, and we’ve let our legacy of growth and innovation slip. The plan I’ve laid out will significantly improve the experience for our customers and re-establish our growth by better leveraging our assets and consistently executing as One Rogers.”

An executive-level shuffle has also taken place at Rogers (Nasdaq: RCI) , with several executives leaving the company and others moving into new positions. In one of the more interesting moves, founder Ted Rogers’ daughter Melinda was moved out of day-to-day operations to make way for former BlackBerry chief marketing officer Frank Boulben. Boulben becomes Rogers’ new chief strategy officer and interim head of strategy, wholesale and development.

Boulben received some negative publicity while at BlackBerry when a Super Bowl commercial that was supposed to signify a comeback for the company instead became known as a high-profile flop. But Laurence defended his choice, saying Boulben was hired by BlackBerry when the company was already “terminal,” and had to deal with problems not of his making.

Rogers’ customer service reputation has taken a beating in recent years, with an unacceptably high churn rate among its cellular subscribers. It will be interesting to see if the company can salvage that poor reputation and turn over a new leaf.

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