Eir looks to tackle reputation for poor customer service

Telecommunications group says it will hire 750 new customer service specialists

Over the half year, Eir’s revenue fell by 1 per cent to €634 million, with earnings up by 13 per cent to €279 million. Photograph: Alan Betson

Over the half year, Eir’s revenue fell by 1 per cent to €634 million, with earnings up by 13 per cent to €279 million. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Telecommunications group Eir said on Wednesday that its results for the first half of the year were in line with expectations, as it cut costs by €32 million and outlined its efforts to tackle its reputation for poor customer service.

In the three months to December 31st, 2018, revenue remained stable year on year, at €322 million, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) increased by €19 million or 15 per cent year on year, pretax profits rose to €14 million, and operating costs reduced by €19 million or 15 per cent to €105 million over the three months, on the back of “headcount reductions, insourcing of customer service and a continued focus on the simplification of non-pay activities”.

Over the half year, revenue fell by 1 per cent to €634 million, with operating costs down by 13 per cent, or €32 million, to €213 million, and earnings up by 13 per cent to €279 million, while Eir reported a pretax profit of €32 million.

Eir said it saw “further solid growth” in its key performance indicators, with more customers connecting to Eir’s fibre broadband, bundling products and consuming more television content and mobile data “than ever before”. Eir had 936,000 broadband customer as of the end of the year, up by 25,000, or 3 per cent, while Eir Sport reported a 24 per cent jump in users, up to 297,000.

Eir had cash of €222 million as of end-December, up by 64 per cent year on year.

Chief executive Carolan Lennon said the group had spent €1.5 billion on telecoms infrastructure in Ireland over the last five years, and would continue to do so.

“Our €1 billion capital investment programme over the next five years will deliver the very best fixed and mobile experience for all our customers across the country,” she said.

Customer service

The broadband and phone provider has been the subject of much anger from irate customers of late, with readers of this newspaper regularly complaining about issues such as difficulties in making contact with the provider, or waiting at home for someone to call and no one shows up.

Against this background, Ms Lennon said that one of her “key priorities” as chief executive is to tackle the group’s reputation for poor customer service.

Ms Lennon said Eir was now nearing completion of the process of bringing its customer service back in-house, which will see 750 customer care roles created within its new regional hubs in Cork, Limerick and Sligo.

“During this time of change, customers have experienced longer wait times than usual or acceptable, and we are doing everything we can to minimise the disruption including significantly expanding our web chat services and working hard to reduce our wait times to the level which Eir customers expect,” Ms Lennon said, adding that it was adding 40 new customer service agents every week “with performance improving every day”.

“We firmly believe that these changes will result in a better experience for Eir’s customers in the long term,” she said.