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Frontier Communications Strives to Turn Around Its Customer Care Issues

Frontier’s CEO and Management Team Gather Weekly to Review and Resolve Customer Complaints

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Armed with a new management team and a new mission, Frontier Communications is trying to transform itself from a struggling landline telecom company into a fiber powerhouse with a whole new approach to customer service.

The company, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy last April, had been plagued with debt from acquisitions and customer service issues. In 2020, the company was fined for misleading customers about DSL internet speeds and charging them undisclosed fees.

But Frontier CEO and president, Nick Jeffery, a former Vodafone UK CEO who joined Frontier in March 2021, is no stranger to company turnarounds. At Vodafone, Jeffery helped return Vodafone UK to revenue and market share growth, and instituted several practices that resulted in better customer satisfaction.

Jeffery recently told investors at the UBS Global TMT investor conference that one of the top priorities for the company in 2022 is to improve its customer care and customer service. To meet that goal, Jeffery said that, every week, he and his management team get together to review and discuss that week’s customer complaints. “We are taking very determined action to remove the reasons why people would leave us,” Jeffery said. “We go through the reasons why people have contacted us and we drill into the underlying cause.”

Charlon McIntosh, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Operations Officer, Frontier Communications

One of the key people at those weekly meetings is Charlon McIntosh, executive vice president and chief customer operations officer at Frontier. McIntosh was hired by Jeffery in October 2021 to oversee Frontier’s customer care department. McIntosh has spent more than 20 years in customer operations and support, and most recently worked for Humana, overseeing the healthcare company’s customer support and operations.

McIntosh admitted that when she first received the call from Frontier about the job, she did some research and saw all the customer complaints and bad reviews. “It was disappointing to read those things but I also saw a tremendous opportunity,” she said. “I saw that with the right focus and leadership this could easily be resolved.”

McIntosh added that she was particularly excited to learn that Jeffery and the entire management team make customer care a top priority. In fact, when she interviewed for the role and Jeffery mentioned that the leadership team meets on Fridays to discuss that week’s customer complaints, she said “I’m used to dragging the rest of the leadership of the organization with me,” adding that because Frontier has established this forum where the senior leaders of the company dedicate time to resolving issues, they are able to make decisions quickly and see results.

Finding the Right Tools

Besides the weekly meetings, McIntosh said that she is focused on providing the company’s customer care associates with the right tools and technology so they can assist customers without necessarily having to go to the customer’s home. “At our call centers we are leveraging bots to troubleshoot issues so that we don’t have to send technicians to the customer’s home.” The bots currently provide information to the customer care associates to help the customer. However, McIntosh said that Frontier is in the process of rolling out a customer-facing bot.

By using bots to troubleshoot customer care issues, Frontier believes it can reduce the amount of time customers have to wait to have their issues resolved, and it also saves Frontier from having to spend money on a truck roll. McIntosh also said that by adding a customer-facing bot and other self-service modules, the company believes it can provide customers with solutions so they can troubleshoot problems and fix them quickly without assistance from Frontier.

McIntosh added that while she is investing in new customer care solutions, she is also making use of existing investments in customer care that had already been made by the prior management team at Frontier. “We just needed to improve the processes and learn how to use it or identify better use cases for the existing technology,” she said.

McIntosh said that although she’s only been with Frontier for a few months, she is already seeing improvements. “I sense that there is already a change in customer sentiment,” she said. “We are getting compliments in addition to complaints and our customers are rooting for us.”

She added that, in the months ahead, her team will continue to solve customer complaints and look at what are some of the issues that are creating the most calls to customer care. Plus, she and her team are working to expand Frontier’s digital channels so that customers can have a “frictionless” experience online. “We know that customers spend time online and that’s why our focus is on the experience that customers have when they are online.”

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