Fi­bre and staffing lift Spark per­for­mance

The Press - - Business - HAMISH MCNICOL

Spark’s cus­tomer ser­vice has re­cov­ered ‘‘markedly’’ but it ad­mits there is ‘‘much work still to be done’’ in what it de­scribed as a chal­leng­ing mar­ket.

The telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany’s profit af­ter tax for the six months to De­cem­ber 31 rose to $178 mil­lion, up more than 12 per cent on last year. This as rev­enue rose 4.1 per cent to $1.8 bil­lion.

Spark man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Si­mon Mout­ter said the ‘‘solid, if not specat­u­lar’’ first six months of the year had all been about its pro­gramme called ‘‘Up­grade New Zealand’’.

This was mainly about mov­ing as many cus­tomers as pos­si­ble off the older cop­per broad­band and onto new and less fault-prone fi­bre or wire­less tech­nol­ogy.

He said there had been $13m worth of in­vest­ment in Spark’s cus­tomer ser­vice, and par­tic­u­larly its call cen­tre re­sources and pro­cesses.

This had re­duced call wait times and led to sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments, he said, but there was still ‘‘much work’’ to be done.

‘‘Digi­ti­sa­tion will be piv­otal to fu­ture ser­vice mea­sures as cus­tomer pref­er­ence con­tin­ues to shift to on­line and mo­bile self-ser­vice chan­nels.

‘‘A new Spark app is launch­ing im­mi­nently which will pro­vide cus­tomers with sig­nif­i­cantly en­hanced self-ser­vice ca­pa­bil­ity.’’

Since June last year, there had been a 33 per cent in­crease in calls an­swered within three min­utes, mostly down to a sig­nif­i­cant lift in the num­ber of peo­ple work­ing in the call cen­tres.

More than 25 per cent of its cus­tomer base had also moved to fi­bre or wire­less broad­band from the cop­per net­work.

Mout­ter said this com­bi­na­tion had led to a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in Spark’s cus­tomer ser­vice, with cop­per a par­tic­u­lar source of a large num­ber of is­sues.

Fur­ther­more, Spark’s mi­gra­tion from the ‘‘very poor per­form­ing’’ Ya­hoo to a new mail plat­form was caus­ing a few hic­cups but should be com­pleted by the end of March.

Spark chair­man Mark Ver­beist said that al­though rev­enue was strong across mo­bile, broad­band and IT ser­vices, there was in­tense on­go­ing price com­pe­ti­tion, par­tic­u­larly at the lower end of the mar­ket.

‘‘While there will in­evitably be more chal­lenges to come and the mar­ket re­mains very com­pet­i­tive, Spark is con­fi­dently look­ing for­ward to the rest of the fi­nan­cial year, and to de­liv­er­ing on our am­bi­tions for our cus­tomers, our share­hold­ers and for New Zealand.’’

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