People First: Delivering a customer-focused vision


Project Scope


Change Management



Vodacom Commercial Operations had a three-year transformation strategy, with sights set on an inspirational vision: “To become the world’s best telco for delivering unmatched customer experiences through passionate and engaged people.” Gary Hagel, COPs’ COO at the time, knew that if COPs’ 4000+ employees were engaged, connected and energised, customer experience would take care of itself. He knew, rightly, to invest in his greatest asset — people.

To touch hearts, activate minds and action knockout change he called TPA (hot off the Vodacom Customer Care journey).


People First. A near three-year acrobatic change journey all about people and all about engagement. People First’s strong focus was on authentic storytelling, inclusive activations and long-lasting behavioural change, obsessed with delivering better for COPs’ people and customers. Championing Vodacom as a Leadership Brand, People First boldly redefined leadership as behaviour, not title. The journey fostered connection by demanding commitment, from executive to frontline. A winning Vodacom Way was pioneered, in which words were to be put into action and attitude into practice.

“We set a goal to become the benchmark in telco customer experience worldwide, through passionate, engaged people. We partnered with South Africa’s top performance agency to operationalise the People First strategy and realise the dream. I could not have made a better choice!”

Gary Hagel Chief Operating Officer, Vodacom COPs

Highlighting humanity

People First’s duration allowed for concepts to crystallise and behaviour to become habit. To keep alive, People First reinvented itself and communicated — always crisp, always compelling — through diverse, expressive, human activations. Via shift sessions, leader-led conversations, dance competitions and Show us Your Love (a pay-it-forward campaign that encouraged appreciation and gratitude), people grew as individuals and connected deeply as a COPs community.

Power to the people

Near close-out, we brought 60 COPs People Leaders together for a Leadership Practices programme. Leaders, geared and energised, would keep the customer service vision alive. Interactive sessions and dedicated course material enabled People Leaders to live into practical behaviours, empower their people and ultimately, become a leader they would follow. The programme landed with 92% of attendees thrilled with the experience!


Knockout! Vodacom’s recent Customer Care experience had seen a 23% rise in eNPS. The efforts of People First saw a further 5% jump! Add to that a stellar 6% rise in already firm engagement levels, it was clear that People First had taken root. Vision was realised as Vodacom COPs became ever more inclusive, connected and obsessed with service. Ready to serve with a smile.


Hearts touched, minds activated


Percentage rise in eNPS (on top of 23%!)


Percentage rise in engagement


Percentage of leaders thrilled with LeaderSHIFT


Percentage of people thrilled with People First



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