Orange in massive shake up


Orange UK chief executive Tom Alexander has outlined a wide ranging plan to take the business forward, and to establish it as the number one UK network operator for customer numbers by 2012. It is the biggest shake-up the business has seen in its 14-year history.

Alexander’s blueprint for success includes immediate root-and-branch changes to Orange’s service proposition in the UK.

Orange will ramp up its store portfolio, from 338 to 400 outlets, by the end of the year. The design of the stores will change to incorporate drop-in centres for repairs and customer enquiries. They will also offer broader convergence propositions, including laptops equipped with mobile broadband, as well as straight mobile and fixed line broadband propositions.

Alexander has also checked, and reversed, Orange’s three-year trend of outsourcing call centre work to India. By the end of the year, all enquiries from contract customers will be handled by UK call centres, with all customer facing service agents operating from the UK during 2009.

In total, Orange is taking on 500 extra customer service staff – 400 in sales and 100 in call centre roles. The sales expansion also includes a new online virtual shop. Orange is also to instigate an instant messaging (IM) service solution, whereby customers will be able to enter an IM dialogue with Orange service agents to resolve queries.

Alexander has stripped out middle management layers from the UK business too, with 450 roles under threat. Orange said the point of the internal restructure was to "strip out duplication", and to make the business leaner.

Alexander has split the UK business into two units focused on customer type rather than service type.

Mike Newnham has been given charge of the new consumer customer team, and Paul Tollett heads up the business customer team. The two units will work across all product and service offerings.

Orange’s four existing marketing departments – retail, home, business services and brand – will be combined to create a single marketing team under new brand and communications chief Steven Day.

Likewise, existing home and multimedia teams are being brought together under consumer boss Mike Newnham, for better alignment of fixed-line and mobile services.

Furthermore, Alexander has outlined plans for better network coverage and faster network services for Orange customers in the coming 18 months.

Orange is to improve its 2G network coverage over the next 12 months. It will add an additional 350 mast sites on key road and rail routes, plus another 100 in rural areas.

It has also confirmed heavy investment in its HSDPA network over the coming 18 months. By the end of 2009, it will enable network speeds of 7.2Mbps in 30 UK cities, and 14.4Mbps in the top five urban centres. Eighty per cent of the population will be covered by 2Mbps network speeds within 18 months.

Alexander said: "Orange is an iconic brand, a great business, and we’re going to build on that success to become the best-loved telecommunications company in Britain. To reach that goal, we need to give our customers consistent quality – quality of network, products, service and experience. Delivering that quality will see the number of customers who join, stay and spend with us grow.

"The telecommunications market has evolved dramatically in recent times and it is my aim to make sure that Orange is at the forefront of serving today’s 21st century customer – a customer who is web-savvy, product-savvy and, quite rightly, demands a premium service at the same time as best value for money.

"So we’re proposing to change the shape of the organisation and the way the business works to serve the 21st century customer. These changes are designed to stop duplication within our organisation, and to ensure we are agile, and able to deliver and react quickly to customers’ needs. And they’ll also make staff more accountable while generating greater financial and operational efficiencies."