Casting an O2 Brand Experience shadow (actually thick black thundercloud) over my mobile upgrade

Andrew S - 23 rd October 2014

Being a bit of a gadget freak I love being an early adopter and pre-ordering the latest tech as soon as it comes out. So when the recent iPhone 6 was released I was there on Friday 12th September ready to press the upgrade button. I pressed it. Unbeknown to me, this is where my problem started. I found out after my fifth and hopefully final contact today (22nd October) that “you are not the first person to call with this problem” and “we’ve told them about it”. Hmmm.

The problem I have experienced has cost O2 a substantial amount of money to try and get me sorted. My cost to serve has been high for what should be a straight forward upgrade. My emotions have taken a battering and even my wife is now able to use the phrase “I told you so”. One store visit, two web chats with India, one call with India, one call with a Scottish chap (after a transfer from a business customer services dept) until eventually the Scottish chap sorted me out and tells me they know all about it. For O2 this should be a bread and butter process that they deliver for their customers, day in day out. But it went wrong. How?

At Brand Vista we believe that to deliver an irresistible brand experience a number of elements have to work harmoniously. Focusing on one part of the experience without any consideration for the holistic experience you are delivering will result in failure. Listening and acting on what your customers tell you is of primary importance. It helps you understand their needs and sort things out when they aren’t working correctly. The brand experience needs to be designed from a customer’s point of view, end to end, with particular focus on the critical moments throughout that experience. The ones that ensure the foundations are solid and effective, and the ones that provide you with an opportunity to bring your brand to life. To stand out from the crowd and differentiate. To operationalise your brand at every touch point throughout that experience. O2 came a cropper and as a result gave me a lot of pain and frustration. They got the first touch point wrong. Then all the wheels came off.

Once the wheels start to fall off providing excellent service recovery is a must. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. It was compounded by poor initial customer communication on receipt of the phone about what I needed to do, misunderstanding my problem (a few times), cutting me off totally as a result, measuring the success of a web chat too soon to support their KPIs and targets rather than my needs as a customer…. It continues.

I’m not here to bash O2. Generally the service is fine, but they have got this one wrong and I am currently a detractor. It’s cast a shadow over the excitement of getting the latest tech. It will influence how I speak about them to my friends and colleagues. Ultimately it will do them brand damage. Not because I want be vindictive but because they’ve caused me pain and frustration that could have been avoided, because they know about it and could have fixed it. They got the very first touch point wrong. The first one! Because of that I will naturally lean towards telling a more cautious story about them rather than becoming their marketing machine and advocating people buy their services.

Thankfully I think it’s all sorted now and for the first time I’m glad I’m on a 24 month contract and can’t upgrade any time soon.


Andrew is the CEO and the other founding partner of Brand Vista. With over 30 years of brand experience both on the client and agency side, what gets him up every morning is a passion for helping clients grow through building genuinely differentiated brands that deliver a customer experience that becomes irresistible.
Find out more about Andrew S