“If IoT is going to be the new battleground on which communications companies are going to forge their competitive edge over the next few years, then I can confidently say that GO is already ahead of the game,” says CEO NIKHIL PATIL.
Mr Patil spoke to Corporate Dispatch and outlined GO’s committed approach to the industry, to improving customer experience and highlights the imminent launch of some very interesting new products.
You have been at the helm at GO for the past 6 months now. A lot has been happening, particularly in these past few weeks, which seem to have been quite a rollercoaster for GO. What can you tell us about the company’s latest important announcements?
It may only be six months since I accepted this post at GO, but my history with this company dates back a number of years. It has indeed been quite a journey, and it is this rollercoaster ride that, in a strange way, keeps pulling me back and keeps things interesting. The times ahead are as exciting, as they are challenging. As announced, we have reached an unprecedented agreement with another operator that will allow it to use GO’s fibre network to offer broadband services to its customers. This agreement is testament to the power and the capabilities of GO’s network, as well as GO’s ability to be an enabler of business opportunities. This would have not been possible had GO not continuously invested millions of Euros to ensure a robust electronic communications infrastructure to service the increased demand and to support Malta’s growing economy and emerging industries. One must appreciate that behind every decision we take as a company lie a number of legal, regulatory and commercial complexities. This leads me to the second development over the past weeks, one which I am very proud of – our €2 million fund towards supporting start-ups.
GO made quite an impact at the recent DELTA Summit with the announcement of the €2 million investment fund for start-ups. What does this tell us about GO’s plans?
GO has a strong history of investment so I think this announcement primarily confirms our commitment to continue on our investment path so that GO is always ready for future requirements. We know our core competencies well, but we are also aware of areas where we rather partner with others than try and build them ourselves. This is why we have opened our doors to promising start ups from emerging industries such as AI, IoT, Blockchain and the like. We have the infrastructure, the expertise and the resources, to support them. Their success is our success, which can only auger well for the future of this country.
What in your opinion is the greatest value that GO is seeking to deliver to its customers at this point in time?
There are two main questions that drive everything we do at GO – Are we generating more value for our customers, and are we delivering returns for our shareholders? Whilst we have invested in our networks to ensure that we can deliver cutting edge technology to our customers, our investment has not stopped there. Over the past couple of months, we have taken on board a lot of the feedback we have been receiving from our valued customers. We have invested a considerable amount of energy and resources to put a plan into action to improve our customers’ experience with GO, whether it is on the customer support front, or whether it is seamlessly connecting our customers to the people and the content they love. We are living up to this commitment. We are experiencing marked improvements, in particular in our call centre activities. On the product and service front, we are constantly designing solutions based on customer expectations. Customers want to be connected 24/7, expect seamless integration of their devices whenever and wherever possible and expect the best service. We want to exceed these expectations, but everything takes time. We have been the first to market on many fronts such as with our TV Anywhere app which allows customers to enjoy TV content anywhere without consuming data from their respective bundles. We launched the Music Wildcard, again for customers to enjoy their favourite music from Apps like Spotify without consuming mobile data. There is a lot more that needs to be done. But we have started this journey and are fully committed to continue adding value to our customers.
What about your business customers? Where is GO positioning itself on this front?
As a group, we have the capacity to provide bespoke product and service solutions to businesses of all sizes. It is our investment in other business and long term strategy that allowed us to do this. Businesses today can come to GO and we can provide all the communications services and ICT solutions they require, all under one roof. Just as we do in our residential arm, we are continuously monitoring the market to analyse and evaluate emerging business needs and catering for these accordingly. In fact, I am very happy to announce that we will shortly be launching two new business products. The first is a unified communications product based on Voice over Internet technology that will gradually replace our business fixed voice telephony in its entirety. The single most important advantage is the mobility that this allows over existing fixed voice connection, plus the inclusion if instant messaging features that allow for much more collaboration capabilities.The second product is based on a bundle which incorporates fixed telephony, Internet and TV services under the umbrella of Business Infinity Pack. We are fully-aware that with more services going into the cloud, upload speeds are becoming critical for any business operation. In fact, with this product, we will be delivering the highest available internet speeds on the market, that is up to 1Gb download by 500Mb upload. The value of this product lies in the fact that it will allow businesses to fully tailor their communication needs, without compromising on quality due to cost considerations. The fact that this product will keep on being developed as technologies are on-boarded, will make it the go-to product for businesses of all kinds.
Beyond the business aspect however, with a communications company like GO, many times it all boils down to the service that the end customer is getting. What are your views in this respect?
You are very right. Our customers’ experience is critical to us. We have listened carefully to customer feedback, have understood and internalised this and as mentioned previously, have started to implement several corrective measures over the past months that are now bearing fruit. We started this process by allocating and increasing resources that are purely dedicated to improving customer experience. In fact, we created a new role of Chief Customer Experience Officer to help GO deliver the best possible experience to everyone who engages with the GO brand. So far we have significantly improved responsiveness at the call-centre, so people are connecting with us much faster; we have streamlined processes in our retail outlets, which has increased efficiency across the board; we are also increasing the lines and channels of communication with our customers, and there is a lot more to look forward to. Our efforts do not stop here. We are always looking to ensure that existing and potential customers have access to the latest technologies. To give just one example, 80,000 homes in Malta have been passed with fibre technology, giving them the opportunity to enjoy exceptional quality broadband services, at superfast speeds.
What would you single out as one of the most pressing issues in customer care?
As one of the largest network operators in Malta, operating and maintaining 3 nationwide networks, in an environment that is characterised by an unprecedented amount of infrastructural, road and construction works, I would say finding the adequate supply of labour work force is our biggest challenge. Of course, this is no justification and this is why we have a number of work-around and interim solutions for our customers. We always strive to minimise negative impact on our customers as much as possible. Unfortunately, circumstantial incidents beyond our control can sometimes compound the issue, however as I said, addressing these issues, in the shortest time possible is at the very top of our agenda.
Where are you seeing GO’s future especially with regard to IoT?
We have already been very active behind the scenes with regardsto IoT and it is certainly driving a lot of our activity in the near future. Without going into much detail, I can safely say that technically we are very prepared, to the extent that we have a number of interesting and exciting initiatives coming up so all I can say on this is… watch this space.