Reading 'awful' customer emails is my daily penance, says TalkTalk chief

TalkTalk: Dido Harding admits brand isn't 'loved' yet
TalkTalk: Dido Harding admits brand isn't 'loved' yet

Dido Harding, the chief executive of TalkTalk, has likened her practice of reading customer emails every day to penance.

Harding said her senior team make a point of reading through customer complaints, which she described as "awful".

TalkTalk is one of the worst performing ISPs for customer service, receiving more complaints than the industry average, according to Ofcom stats last year.

The ISP had a 62% rating for customer service at the end of 2014, compared with the industry average of 69%. BT performed worse with a 61% satisfaction  rating, while Sky  and Virgin recorded 79% and 72% respectively.

Speaking at an event held by The&Partnership, Harding said: "I read customer emails every day, and a lot of the senior management read them with me, and they're awful.

I view them as doing my daily prayers. I look at them at the end of the day on my way home

"I view them as doing my daily prayers. I look at them at the end of the day on my way home."

The peer said that when she first joined TalkTalk in 2010, none of the senior leadership had actually signed up with the ISP. When Harding forced them to do so, she faced a volley of complaints.

She said: "I remember one of my very first meetings with my top 100, five years ago, where I asked for a show of hands on who was a TalkTalk customer, and almost nobody was.

"When we gave free TalkTalk broadband to everybody, the next month there was a barrage of complaints that they had to call the call centre. That is the point – to eat our own cooking."

TalkTalk isn’t loved

Harding admitted that while TalkTalk was a reputable brand, it still wasn’t "loved" by customers.

But she said beating other ISPs on strict child safety measures online, with the introduction of the HomeSafe filter, had boosted customer trust.

HomeSafe is TalkTalk’s parental control tool that filters web traffic and blocks content deemed to be unsafe, such as porn or violent content.

Protracted government pressure on TalkTalk’s rivals has seen Sky, Virgin and BT introduce similar network-level filters during the past two years.

Harding said: "You've got to have a set of core values that go beyond making money.

"Our work on child internet safety, and the launch of HomeSafe, and pioneering that through to the whole industry is every bit as important in our journey to being viewed as a reputable, reliable business.

"I wouldn't go as far as to say loved at all yet as the journey in making sure [our service] did just work."


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