Start-ups urged to learn from Telstra’s woes

Start-up businesses can learn from Telstra’s customer service errors ahead of the telco’s latest overhaul, a leading consultant claims.


Telstra has announced that it will spend more than $1 billion over the next three years in an attempt to turn around its notoriously bad customer service reputation.


Chief executive David Thodey said that the company, which is also set to slash 6,000 jobs, will embrace a “customer-centric driven culture, not just an engineering culture.”


Telstra plans to do this by retraining staff, aiming to answer queries within one phone call and dropping certain fees that have irritated customers, including many small businesses.


According to retail and customer service consultant Debra Templar, start-ups can learn valuable lessons from the difficulties encountered by Telstra.


“One of the most stupid things done by Telstra and other companies is call centres,” she says. “No-one thinks that pressing number one or two on your phone is good customer service.”


“The other thing is that no-one likes to wait, either on the phone or in-store. Telstra don’t have enough staff in-store. The ones they have take forever and don’t acknowledge you when you come in.”


“I know they are trying to change this, but it’s crazy that you have people coming into the store angry because they can’t get their problem solved on the phone and there’s no interaction with them until it’s their turn.”


“Telstra took its eye off customers and put it onto technology. Their staff knew about products but I’m not sure they even liked people.”


Templar advises: “A business shouldn’t over-promise anything. I know there needs to be a balance, but Telstra spent a lot on advertising and then couldn’t deliver.”


“Start-ups should recognise that without customers, they don’t have a business. They need to put systems in place for the benefit for staff, customers and the business – not just the business.”


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