Telstra finally engages customer service staff in the brand but what about the rest?

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Customer service is a particularly tricky area for brands to build differentiation on but without the rest of the business behind the brand, it is simply another promise that can’t be delivered.

Beyond sales, marketing and even customer service, you need to engage all staff in the brand.

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Telstra, has finally realised that while good customer service doesn’t win you business, bad customer service it is one of the biggest contributors to losing customers.

Telstra’s “we’re making it personal” campaign recognises the importance of customer service to the brand. It is also an interesting shift in the telco market whereby customer loyalty is becoming increasingly important and the brand is now playing a role in limiting the ‘churn’ factor.

With Magda as their brand ambassador, Telstra claim they have been listening to customers and are now focussed on providing more personal service. “Because at Telstra we care about our customers and we want to be famous for it.”

Being famous for customer service was always going to be a massive reach. After six months of the ‘we’re making personal campaign’ it still seems like a huge disconnect between promise and delivery.

Sure, they do seem to be delivering on the option for customers to speak to the same person. But this is just not enough.

Complaints on social media and online reviews don’t seem to be celebrating Telstra’s service. Many have also commented on the brand’s misrepresentation of an Australian call centre after they have outsourced most of their call centre staff offshore.

Personally, I am also frustrated with their service. I’ve had to follow up on issues with my bill every month for the past three months. I am sick of calling multiple times to sort out the same issues, even if I can talk to the same person. Most of the operators on the end of the phone are friendly and helpful. However, in my experience they are spending time fixing up problems that just shouldn’t happen. Worse still, when they try to fix one problem they cause another. It appears to stem from issues with inflexible systems and departments not communicating properly.

The customer service team are just not empowered. All they can do is to apologise, compensate customers and tell them to wait for the next billing cycle.

This is another example of how important it is to get everyone in the business to understand and live the brand. For Telstra, they have to look beyond the sales and customer service departments and start looking for ways to engage those in IT, technical, billing and finance departments.

For example; Why can’t they amend and issue another bill when they’ve made a mistake? Why can’t they tell you exactly what you have been charged for other than ‘you’ve got over your limit this month’? I’m sure you could add to this list!

Rather than just doing their job, all employees need to understand their role in delivering the brand. In particular, the culture needs to be one that rewards and recognises staff for solving customer frustrations and implementing initiatives to improve the brand experience.

Michael Hughes
Managing Partner, Strategy

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