Veon Georgia CEO on company success and challenges

Telecommunication is a demanding and ever-changing industry, seeing the global players needing to rapidly assimilate to the changes witnessed in the modern world and offer the latest trends and high quality services to stay ahead of the game. VEON is a global company which has been successfully operating in Georgia for numerous years already. The Georgian National Communication Commission released data showing that in 2019, VEON Georgia made important steps forwards. Knowing this, GEORGIA TODAY went to talk to Andrzej Malinowski, CEO of VEON Georgia (brand Beeline), to gauge the success of the company and find about more about the challenges of the industry.

According to the GNCC data, VEON Georgia has proven very successful in 2019 in the growth of mobile internet users, with y-o-y growth of 21%, as well as financial gain with retail revenue up 2.6% y-o-y. Tell us more about it.

I appreciate you noticing our achievements; indeed, we are happy with the 2019 results so far. The most obvious answer, yet most truthful one, is that Veon Georgia is a team of hard working, creative, dedicated people. I always underline the human aspect of our success, because you can have all the technology money can buy and perform very weakly if the team you work with is not good enough or not sufficiently motivated. The dedication of the Veon Georgia team affected our results in two key aspects: strategy and execution, which includes deployed technologies. A couple of years back, we were pioneers in 4G technology, bringing it to Georgian mobile internet users. Ever since, we have been working on making this technology available for more and more people – which is still one of our key objectives. In other words: our objective is to keep people connected and deliver them value they can afford, while constantly working on improving our customers’ experience. We are all extremely happy it’s so well received by our customers, but at same time, we have a lot to improve – our success is meaningful mainly as a motivation to reach higher and perform better in delivering value to our customers.

Internet is of crucial importance today. What are the strategies and approaches applied by VEON Georgia to offer the latest trends and best services to clientele?

I could not agree more. Internet access is of key importance for modern societies; we see it across Veon Group footprint. As a service company, we can only be successful when we listen to our customers and transfer their expectations to our product strategies. We believe that internet access is about the percentage of population we cover with our network – which in case of our 4G amounts to 90%, but make no mistake: you can cover the whole country with the latest technology and make access to it so expensive you will deliver almost no value to customers. Keeping the right balance between those two aspects is what Veon Georgia team has been doing from the start. I am not ready to discuss details about new products – I hope reasons for that are clear, but I would gladly use this opportunity to ensure our customers again: we do hear your voice, I do get the message: we will do our absolute best to provide you ultimate experience with our mobile internet.

Tell us about the major challenges you have faced on the Georgian market so far.

Thank you for this question. I am privileged to have worked in Georgia for 2.5 years, the only way I refer to this amazing country is “my home away from home” and I do mean it like that. Georgia is a free market economy country and we work in a regulated environment with a highly professional body – the GNCC taking care of protecting the rights of mobile networks users. I greatly appreciate the GNCC impact on how the business of mobile works in Georgia. Overall, state institutions have been doing a great job not interfering with businesses and keeping the driving force of the market economy, competition, within a legal framework, where conditions are equal to all players. The biggest challenge is one that might influence the future growth of many industries: the availability of skilled human resources. Education for the future is a matter many countries struggle with – especially countries of the former Soviet block (including my native Poland). If you are behind developed countries, you have to try much harder to grow the next generation, foster their interest in technology so they can eventually take over. We do it internally, granting all our employees access to free online learning platform CrossKnowledge and encouraging all team members to use it – with great success. But employers, entrepreneurs, can only play a supporting role here. Georgians are hardworking and talented, which is an amazing foundation for growth and development. I believe business should express its support to all initiatives aimed at improving the situation – I will be happy to join any initiative of that kind.

You launched the Medallia platform. How do you use it and how helpful has it proven for obtaining information about customers’ requirements and amelioration of services?

This state-of-the-art tool basically gives my colleagues and I direct access to structured data about customer experience. It’s not a magic wand, solving the problems but it’s a sophisticated tool that provides information gathered from every interaction our customers have with us: in person, on the phone – with our call center team or bots, online and offline. The objective is to understand what, in all aspects, we can do to make our customers’ lives easier and their experiences with us more pleasant. Obviously, of any platform even the most sophisticated one will not do this for us. It takes a team of specialists dealing with the most important aspect of our activity, customer experience, to transfer data into actionable guidelines and then implement them. Some say CEO stands for Chief Experience Officer – and that is how I also see my role. Medallia data analysis is an important part of my job, so is acknowledging those of our team going the extra mile to improve customer experience, and to foster a customer centric culture within the company.

Tell us about your plans. What are the novelties VEON Georgia clientele should expect in the future?

In most simple terms, we plan to continue proving we are worth the trust of 1.3 million of our customers, we plan to continue appreciating them buying our services and being with us – somebody might say it’s nothing new, but for us at Veon Georgia this is what matters most.

By Ketevan Kvaratskheliya

23 September 2019 18:26