Virgin Media boosts customer service in bid to set itself apart

‘Red House’ service offers extra in-home help and more support from Limerick help centre

Bill Blake, left Virgin Media, head of strategy, Jessica McCabe, regional director Ookla and Paul Farrell Virgin Media vice president of commercial. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Bill Blake, left Virgin Media, head of strategy, Jessica McCabe, regional director Ookla and Paul Farrell Virgin Media vice president of commercial. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Virgin Media Ireland is planning a new push into customer service with the launch of a dedicated “Red House” service that is designed to sort out a range of common consumer broadband problems.

The new service will see engineers stay an additional 30 minutes on call-outs to ensure common broadband problems – such as connecting to devices, getting the best signal in your home and changing passwords and network IDs – are solved.

The Virgin Media brand is attempting to differentiate itself from the competition as the broadband speed war heats up. According to data from broadband speed test firm Ookla, Virgin remained far ahead of competitors in terms of broadband speeds. The latest speed tests showed the network delivered average broadband speeds of 228 Mbps to customers across its network in Ireland.

The tests are carried out independently by consumers at times of their own choosing and are not solicited by the companies, with the analysis conducted between July and December 2016.

Paul Farrell, Virgin media Ireland’s vice president of commercial, said the new service, which is expected to begin before summer, is part of a broader push to distinguish the Virgin Media brand.

“The Virgin brand in some ways had no real relevance in Ireland unless you were of the generation of Virgin Mesgastores, or had spent time in the UK,” he said. “For the past year we’ve been thinking how we can stand out. We think the Red House service is it.”

The move follows the announcement in February that Virgin Media would creating 120 jobs at its National Customer Experience Centre at Roxboro, Limerick, bringing the total number of staff on site to 400. At the same time, the company also said it would expand its fibre broadband network for homes and businesses in the region.

Mr Farrell said making the decision to have all customer care calls handled from Limerick, rather than an overseas call centre, was part of that move. “Limerick was the platform to build it on,” he said.

The company is also planning to launch a new tablet that is designed to be a second screen for home users. The Android-based telly Tablet is set to launch in the second half of the year, although the company had no hints about pricing or how it would sell it to consumers.

Mr Farrell said the new device, which will come preloaded with Virgin Media’s TV app, will act as a bridge between the smaller tablet that many people have at home and the large screen TV.

He said the company didn’t see itself transforming into a hardware company but would improve the experience for “a certain cohort” of people.