Unusually, giffgaff employs engaged customers to provide its first-line customer support service. Now as a giffgaff customer, I love that level of engagement. Especially as in line with giffgaff’s marketing pitch, there’s no contract. So I can provide support when I want. But leave it to other customers when I’m busy.

I’m intrigued by the potential of this approach to other settings. So I’m researching the views of marketing and telecoms professionals. Because I believe that might provide inspiration and examples of business models that I can adapt for my own websites.

The Purpose of giffgaff Science

I’ve written this article to introduce my giffgaff research project. So it’s mainly a start to providing a giffgaff knowledge base. Because that supports the purpose of TheFone. I.e. independent information to help you choose the smartphone that gives you the most value.

The Science of giffgaff

For now, I’ll summarise 3 recent studies of giffgaff that have been published this year so far. Then I’ll explore the key topics further in subsequent articles.

Can giffgaff Customer Service Beat the Competition?

This is a study of 1254 customer intentions relating to mobile network quality[1]. Where giffgaff is just one of 15 named networks. However, there is no comparison data between networks. Because this is all about the factors that influence customer satisfaction. Including intention to switch network.

The study identifies speed as the most important customer consideration. But also the network’s brand image. Which in turn is heavily influenced by speed, call quality, and customer service.

As giffgaff is carried on the O2 network, it cannot control speed and quality. So its unique take on customer service is vital. Though this can also have a negative impact on those customers who dislike the unusual lack of a support call centre.

Is giffgaff Support Innovative or Divisive?

Next, I take a brief look at how giffgaff relates to young smartphone users[2]. I say “brief look” because this is a huge report. But giffgaff has a significant mention. Because the authors first note how many mobile networks providers are limited by entrenched support services. Where those services are developing from systems designed to support older communication technologies. Then they describe…

Example of the operator who made the real step forward is GiffGaff, a sub-brand of O2 (Telefonica) launched in the UK in 2009. GiffGaff addresses the users of its services as the community members rather than traditional customers. Their marketing slogan is ‘network run by its customers’ as the users actively contribute to sales, marketing, product development, and customer services. Community members are promoting the brand and offerings and recruiting new users, as a replacement of traditional marketing and sales department. Customer service requests (questions and complaints) are mainly answered satisfactorily by the other users, instead of traditional customer care. Some of the users are even making video tutorials for common queries.

In addition, GiffGaff is leveraging the creative potential of its users which are proposing ideas for innovation that are commented upon and rated by other members, before being implemented.

Interestingly, this report identifies giffgaff as a company that appears to relate well to younger smartphone users. However, the scope of the report is too broad to draw any firm conclusions. But it does highlight 5 important considerations:

  1. Make prices affordable with clear bonus and reward policies. But don’t sacrifice coverage or quality for low costs.
  2. Focus on network quality and reliability. Especially for streaming, video, AR/VR, gaming, and other data-intensive services.
  3. “Tap and Text” approach for customer communication to providers. The authors note the huge impact on business support systems from simple, fast, reliable digital communication channels.
  4. Integrate communications channels with social networks to develop sophisticated customer insights.
  5. Consider personalised services. But ensure personal data is secure and user-approved.

So I hope I can find more evidence to compare how different network providers address these needs.

Opportunities from giffgaff user knowledge

My final report uses giffgaff as a case study for innovative approaches to gaining commercial benefits from user knowledge[3].

Now, this report raises many interesting topics that influence how we might add value to our smartphones. So I’ll return to it in future articles to emphasise how phones that are smart add value to users that are smarter. But for now, I note how innovation from harnessing giffgaff users knowledge has influenced new approaches to core operations in several business sectors…

What has been termed the ‘giffgaff model’ – enabling users to provide support and other services that would typically be viewed as core operations – has also influenced the establishment of new entrants to banking, energy and mobile phones

How does science add value to your smartphone?

Your giffgaff Science

Now you can see that academics regard giffgaff as important for adding value from:

  • Customer support.
  • Innovation.
  • User knowledge.

But how do these issues affect you? Can you see smart ways to monetise the value you add to your network provider?

Please share your concerns about giffgaff science in the form below. Or raise a support ticket in my help desk.


giffgaff Science References

  1. Dey, Bidit Lal, Wafi Al-Karaghouli, Stanimir Minov, Mujahid Mohiuddin Babu, Angela Ayios, Syed Sardar Mahammad, and Ben Binsardi. “The Role of Speed on Customer Satisfaction and Switching Intention: A Study of the UK Mobile Telecom Market.” Information Systems Management 37, no. 1 (2020): 2-15.
  2. Stojanović, Mirjana, Marko Projović, Lazar Živojinović, Dušan Barać, and Zorica Bogdanović. “A Survey on Centennials’ Expectations of Mobile Operators.” In Marketing and Smart Technologies, pp. 178-189. Springer, Singapore, 2020.
  3. Flowers, Stephen, and Martin Meyer. “How can entrepreneurs benefit from user knowledge to create innovation in the digital services sector?.” Journal of Business Research (2020).