Case study: How Vodafone boosted its efficiency by seven percent

Article by Simon Hedaux, founder and CEO of Rethink Productivity, a world leading productivity partner which helps businesses to drive efficiency, boost productivity and optimise budgets. For more information see

In an industry that can change overnight, how do you improve productivity, stay responsive and keep long-term customers happy?

Vodafone is a great example of a company who’ve evolved to do just this. Since 2012 Vodafone has boosted their efficiency index by 7% in their UK market, without any negative impact on their sales and service KPIs.

So how did they do it? Founder of ReThink Productivity Simon Hedeaux, who worked closely with Vodafone to achieve this, shares his insights into what worked, what didn’t and what businesses can learn from this.

The Process

The first step was to measure the efficiency of Vodafone’s stores and identify areas for improvement. Smart data collection and analysis helps identify what’s working and what isn’t, allowing you to boost performance and keep moving in the right direction.

The telecoms sector is characterised by innovations that can quickly change people’s priorities and behaviour. But customers are locked into phone contracts that mean they might not visit their network provider’s stores for a couple of years.

Big, dramatic changes often aren’t the answer. Instead, when aiming to increase productivity, it’s often about playing the long game – chipping away at challenges, tweaking processes and regularly evaluating progress. This was the case with Vodafone.

Here are a few tactics to drive success:

Get back to the shop floor

Each year, Vodafone has an external team spend at least five days at ten different stores across the UK. They refresh their activity data, measuring the average time it takes people to carry out tasks on the shop floor and behind the scenes.

They look at the stores’ efficiency, analysing how hard teams are working and clocking time spent helping customers with advice or a sale and time spent not working. Then, anecdotal observations are made, watching and listening to the team and paying attention to their customer conversations.

Once all the facts and figures have been collected, they are compared with previous years of Vodafone data and against other retailers. This helps you to work out if everything is on track, what has changed and why it has changed.

Cut tasks that don’t add value

One surprise from Vodafone’s data were the number of hours colleagues spent waiting for customers, or on activities that didn’t add value. So they introduced a new approach to colleagues planning; initiating systems that match colleagues’ patterns to footfall and reducing back-office time by around 12.5%.

Updating the activity times each year ensures budgeting and planning reflects how stores are actually operating.

Identify shifting shopping trends

By continuing to monitor progress every year, you can set productivity targets based on a detailed picture of performance. Doing this allows retailers to see how changes affect their stores and impact resources and colleagues scheduling.

Vodafone stays ahead of the game by identifying shifting shopping trends through this process. For example, customers are increasingly prepared when they visit a store – they know which phone they want to buy and how much they should spend. It means there are more opportunities to upsell extras like insurance and broadband.

Gaining a deep insight into what’s going on on the shop floor means you can reduce time wasted and increase time well-spent with customers in stores. And, constantly topping up your data equips you to move with the times.