Goodbye call centres? O2's launch customer-powered network
O2 are rolling out a new people-powered network before Christmas. Yep, it's more of that social media buffoonery that's gripped the world like a clam in a vice. It's called giffgaff, which is - according to O2, at least - a "real English word meaning 'mutual giving'".
There's not a great deal of information around at the moment (although there are bits and pieces on the new website that appeared today) - we're going from an internal memo doing the rounds at O2 (thanks to Bitterwallet reader TFEB). We do know giffgaff is based entirely online, and members will be encouraged to create content (such as user guides), provide forum support, recruit new members or come up with marketing ideas. What's in it for them? The more members get involved, the more credits they'll be rewarded - which will pay off up to 100 percent of their top-ups.
According to the internal memo:
"Run on the O2 network, giffgaff will run independently of O2 with a team of about 14 people working from a separate office near Slough. The low cost business model aims to drive down costs by not having big call centres, subsidising phones, big marketing budgets or hundreds of staff, keeping the carbon footprint low."
giffgaff supplies a SIM to use in any unlocked handset, cutting out the need to get involved in hardware. So not only is it a quirky way of grabbing some headlines, it's dirt cheap to operate. Clever O2. Taking their lead from the likes of Wikipedia, O2 are hoping that by crowdsourcing all the human resources a mobile network needs, they can run the backend for pennies and develop a loyal userbase that supports itself.
Can a mobile network really run on 14 staff? How would that scale with bigger numbers? If it actually works out, it'll be interesting to see how the other networks react and what happens to the traditional model of call centres.