Central to the VodafoneZiggo story is Guru, a customer engagement platform built using the Pega Marketing platform. Guru is the tool agents in the call center use when they engage with customers, and is also used for other channels, such as the website and the app. In the words of Verburg, Guru is there to “make sense and add value”, both to and for the agents, but also for the customers.

As mentioned earlier, VodafoneZiggo consists of two brands, both with a large install base. Ziggo is the provider of internet, television and telephony services to 4 million, or roughly 50 percent of the households in the Netherlands. Vodafone has a 30 percent share of the mobile market. Roughly 1 million customers are converged, meaning they have both Ziggo and Vodafone customer subscriptions.

Be and stay relevant

With a portfolio that size, and the significant number of products that go with it, confusion about what the best options are for customers is something VodafoneZiggo needs to be wary of. In order to stay ahead of that sentiment, and the inevitable churn resulting from it, VodafoneZiggo realized that 1:1 engagement is the key. This, combined with some of their unique offerings in the Dutch market (Formula 1 and HBO, for example), ensures customers get what they want. Eventually that’s what it’s all about, according to Verburg: “The goal is to create happy customers.”

In other words, VodafoneZiggo continuously strives to stay relevant for the customers, who are getting more demanding, connected and empowered. As such, you need to have a “meaningful customer dialogue” with your customers. At the end of the day, this means personalization above all other things. Based on previous behavior, on the website or via other channels, including physical stores, VodafoneZiggo will be able to do just that. 

Verburg gives various examples of the highly personalized approach they are working towards. They can offer a customer who they know loves Formula 1 a code to watch a race. They can also (temporarily) given him more data, so that he can watch it outside of his own home as well. If that customer then visits the VodafoneZiggo website to check out what the extra Ziggo Sport package costs, they know it’s him and waive installation costs. Then, if they call him to make him the offer, they more or less are guaranteed to talk to a happy customer, who is probably ready to invest in an extra package.

Agent acceptance

Being able to have highly personalized conversations with (potential) customers is only part of the puzzle. The agents at the business end of things need to be able to quickly see which offers are predicted to offer the best conversion, and in general see what the next-best-action is for a specific customer. The suggestions also need to be in line with what agents are allowed to do, and allow them to comply with regulations.

It’s not only the automated back-end that needs to ‘understand’ the customer, the human agent is just as important in that respect. Guru ensures this, which also means that agents are happier with their jobs. If you talk to happy customers, or at least customers that feel understood, you value your role in the process more as well. Of course, not everybody who calls is happy, and there will always be customers who get in touch because they have, for example, issues with their wifi or with their modem.

The results of the Guru program are quite impressive. The adoption of Guru is growing quite quickly; 36 percent of the offers agents propose to customers is the a Guru action at the time of writing, from 12 percent when they started the program. The acceptance of propositions by customers is up to 45 percent, from 21 percent when they started. Lastly, the NPS score for agent engagement has gone up by 25 points, a huge leap in the world of NPS scores.

Success factors

Even though most of her talk focused on the benefits of VodafoneZiggo’s approach, Verburg also emphasized that you can’t expect these benefits overnight: “It does take a lot of work and investment to get people to learn to work with the new platform.” That is to be expected, obviously, but it's also crucial to realize during the planning stages of project such as this.

In order to make it a success, training your people is only part of the equation. VodafoneZiggo launched the project internally, which is very important for stakeholder management. People need to feel they’re part of the project, not have the feeling that something is forced onto them. Another important success factor is that it needs to be clear who the owner is of a project, who is on the team, and how governance is arranged. Last but certainly not least, you need C-level buy-in. At VodafoneZiggo, the CEO and CCO sponsor the initiative actively, and attend the meetings personally. 

If you take these success factors into account, rolling out a program such as Guru will have positive results all around. VodafoneZiggo in general is very happy with the outcome, and will only try to get the acceptance and usage figures up even further. For VodafoneZiggo, this is their way to ensure that the customer is always in the lead, irrespective of which channel he wants to use. It’s a crucial part to what you could call Verburg’s and VodafoneZiggo’s mission: “next level marketing to find the best ways of reaching out to customers.”