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TalkTalk bouncing back a year on from cyber attack, says CEO

A year after a major data security breach laid waste to its reputation, TalkTalk boss Dido Harding says things are turning around

A “relentless focus” on customer service and operational improvement has helped communications service provider (CSP) get its house in order following a major cyber security breach in the autumn of 2015, according to chief executive Dido Harding.

Speaking as the firm lifted the lid on interim results for the six months to the end of September 2016, Harding said: “As a result we have seen significant year-on-year improvements in churn and customer satisfaction.”

TalkTalk’s half-year revenues dipped 1.1% to £902m, while EBITDA rose 44% to £130m and pre-tax profit came in at £46m, up from £14m in the year-ago period.

As part of the rehabilitation of its reputation following the October 2015 breach – which exposed the customer details of 150,000 customers and landed it with a £400,000 fine from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – TalkTalk has ramped up a business transformation programme called Making TalkTalk Simpler, that has already delivered £17m worth of savings.

As part of this programme it has introduced tech support and repair processes for front-line service representatives, enrolled 600,000 customers on a voice biometric ID system, and redesigned its online billing systems and website.

It also moved to re-establish its credentials as a value brand by launching a new set of price plans, though this came partly in response to Ofcom having forced the telecoms and broadband market to be more transparent about its pricing structure.

Harding said the new plan structure offered “simple, affordable and fair” prices in a confusing marketplace.

“By allowing our existing customers to switch to these new plans, we are delivering a value for money proposition to our customer base that is genuinely unique in the market, and are laying the foundations for a fundamental transformation of the TalkTalk brand,” she said.

“This, combined with our ongoing focus on Making TalkTalk Simpler, will drive a return to retail subscriber and revenue growth in the 2018 financial year, supporting our confidence in the longer-term prospects for the business,” said Harding.

Read more about TalkTalk

  • TalkTalk has overhauled security since its controversial data breach in 2015, according to CTO Gary Steen, and is investing in technology to beat its rivals on customer service.
  • The Information Commissioner’s Office issues its largest ever data protection fine after more than 150,000 customers had their data exposed by TalkTalk breach.
  • Internet service provider TalkTalk throws down the gauntlet to its rivals by making a number of changes to its packages that it claims will put customers’ interests first.

Meanwhile, the business-to-business (B2B) wing, TalkTalk Business, delivered a strong performance, with revenues up 10.6% to £208m, 2.3% excluding carrier sales. Data revenues were up 38.9%, while legacy voice revenues dropped by almost a quarter.

TalkTalk said it saw a growing pipeline from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) transitioning to high-speed Ethernet products to support hosted voice, and managed networking from corporate customers. It added that it had seen demand growing both before and after the Brexit vote.

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