TalkTalk rules out marketing ‘con’

The boss of TalkTalk has said the firm will not try to “con” customers with extra marketing to stem the mass exodus – which has seen 70,000 leave in the past six months alone – but will improve customer experience instead.
Playing down investors’ criticism, chief executive Dido Harding claimed the number was “very small” compared to the group’s total customer base of 4.1 million. And she added: “We’re not planning on trying to con them with lots of extra marketing. What we’re doing is systemically improving the experience they get.”
Amid warnings that the user exodus would not end until next year – “just a few months longer than we were expecting”, said Harding – the company revealed pre-tax profits improved from £17m to £41m, after £51m of ‘exceptionals and acquisition-related items’.
The company has been plagued by severe customer service problems stemming from the 2009 acquisition of Tiscali’s UK operations. Some 27,000 customers left during the first quarter, while 43,000 quit in the second.
Harding claims the company has improved the “customer experience”, citing a 50% reduction in complaints to the regulator Ofcom, but that it would take longer to convince consumers of the progress.
She also highlighted that TalkTalk had boosted the number of customers served through its own network rather than BT’s, from which the company gets a higher-margin.
In September, the company axed its contact centre in Waterford, Ireland, with the loss of 575 jobs, after it claimed it had less need for call centre staff following a fall in the number of customer complaints.
The move came despite TalkTalk and sister firm Tiscali being forced to shell out a total of £5.5m – including fines and goodwill payments – to customers for overcharging.

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