Eir to bring ‘hundreds’ of outsourced customer service jobs back in house

Sales dip 2% as company plans to put more money into high-speed fibre, 5G network

The new chief executive of Eir says the company plans to bring "hundreds" of outsourced customer service jobs back in-house, as it tries to shake-off an image for poor customer service delivery.

Carolan Lennon, who took over the business after Eir was bought out earlier this year by French investors, said it has already moved to bring back in-house much of its credit management, field sales and retail staff.

She declined to comment on ongoing talks with its Indian call centre provider, HCL Technologies, with whom Eir has clashed over allegedly poor standards of customer service. HCL employs about 1,000 staff in Ireland on the Eir contract, as well as others back in India. Ms Lennon would only say Eir is “working with” HCL to raise standards.

“We have started bringing outsourced customer-facing functions back in house, in order to help build a world-class customer experience,” said Ms Lennon, who was speaking as Eir announced full-year results that saw sales fall by 2 per cent.

“People who look after our customers should be proud of the brand,” she said afterwards. “[Customer service] will be a differentiator for Eir in the future.”

She also said Eir is targeting more broadband market share via a fibre rollout in cities and large towns, where, she said, it is under represented. She also said all staff would leave its headquarters building by the end of the year, to be dispersed to its other facilities in Dublin.

Ms Lennon confirmed that Eir has reached a target of 750 redundancies under a severance scheme opened up under the new leadership regime.

Eir, which was taken over by firms controlled by French billionaire Xavier Niel in April, saw its sales dip by 2 per cent to €1.27 billion in the year end of June.

Pre-tax loss

The company said that growth in broadband and bundling of telecoms products was offset by reductions in low-margin Eir business revenues and traditional access line revenues.

The company made a pre-tax loss of €64 million in the year to the end of June 2018, down from the €234 million loss recorded a year earlier.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) rose by 2 per cent to €531 million.

The company, which has invested €1.5 billion in telecoms infrastructure across Ireland over the past five years, said on Tuesday it will now embark upon a €1 billion capital investment programme over the next five years that will see high-speed fibre rolled out to more homes, as well as putting money into a 5G network “delivering the most technologically advanced mobile data services starting in 2019”.

Eir launched a widespread redundancy scheme – seeking 750 job cuts – within weeks of Mr Niel’s investment vehicle NJJ and Paris-listed telecoms company Iliad taking control of the former Irish State monopoly in a deal that valued the group at €3.5 billion.

Eir had cut more than 2,000 jobs in recent years. At the end of June the company had 2,798 full-time equivalent staff on its payroll.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is Business Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Caveat column