04/21/2015 03:55 EDT | Updated 06/21/2015 05:59 EDT

Rogers Vows To Fix Confusing Billing System, Improve Customer Service


TORONTO - Rogers customers who say they're frustrated trying to figure out their monthly bills could find some relief in a revamp of the process announced Tuesday by chief executive Guy Laurence.

Laurence told reporters that Rogers Communications will roll out an improved billing process over the next few weeks, fixing a problem that created a baffling disconnect between customers and company service agents.

For years, Rogers has used an internal billing program that displayed a customer's monthly bill in a different format for customer agents than it did at home for the customer.

"You'd be amazed how much people talk past each other because of things like that," Laurence said after the company's annual meeting in Toronto.

The new bill looks the same on both sides "so the customer and agent can have a proper conversation," he added.

The change comes as Laurence works on an effort to "overhaul" the customer experience by fixing problems he encountered when he joined the company in December 2013.

"To be successful, our employees need the right tools," he said during his speech to shareholders.

"This was a huge issue when I joined and we've started to fix it."

Widespread customer service complaints have plagued most of Canada's telecoms for years, but Rogers has always been near the top of that list.

At last year's annual meeting, Laurence delivered a similar speech about his intention to make changes, but this time he was able to show shareholders he's made some progress.

"We took the savings from last year's reorganization and we're pouring it into customer experience," he said. "This year, we're redirecting over $100 million to fund new positions and fix our systems."

Recent figures released by the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services show those efforts could be making headway.

The annual report found that customer complaints against Rogers and its discount brand, Fido, dropped 31.5 per cent to 3,284 that were filed at the end of the commission's 2014 year. Overall, complaints about Canadian telecom providers dropped 17 per cent across the board to 11,340 accepted complaints, which can range from disputes over contract terms and billing errors to services provided.

Laurence said he's determined to lower complaints even further.

The goal is to keep fewer Rogers subscribers from leaving the company as competition heats up with new CRTC rule changes that shorten wireless contracts to two years instead of three. Making an unhappy customer stick around can be an expensive proposition if it requires offering them cheaper packages or other incentives to stay.

Laurence hopes by improving customer service some of those future obstacles can be avoided.

"Customers deserve good service and we're going to provide it," he said.

"If it comes at a cost, whatever cost, I'll find the money from within the company. We're a big company, we can afford it."

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