Telstra may have had some legitimate reasons as to why it was infamous for bad customer service, but those ‘excuses’ do not – and cannot - apply anymore, according to Telstra chief customer officer, Gordon Ballantyne.
He was speaking at an American Chamber of Commerce event in Sydney last Friday.
Ballantyne joined Telstra in June 2010 from the UK.
Long been regarded as a telco with poor customer service, Telstra has staged a stellar comeback in the last financial year, luring back 1.7 million customers and improving on customer satisfaction. Not bad considering the previous year saw Telstra lose market share in five of its six business categories despite boasting to have the best telecommunications network in Australia.
It was the result of heavy investment, a company restructure and a change in strategy, but the company can still improve, according to Ballantyne.
“Sometimes organisations get stuck and as part of a leadership role is to unstick some of those things,” he said. One of those things, for Telstra, was to shake off some of the fair excuses – or “reasonable reasons” – it had for not delivering on customer service.
“In organisations, there are a lot of reasonable reasons as to why we don’t do things and [part of my job] is to recognise those reasonable reasons that… don’t apply anymore,” Ballantyne said. “They shouldn’t apply to the business because it takes away from the things we know and should deliver to our customers.”
He didn’t go into what those “reasonable reasons” were but noted that overcoming them was an important step in driving growth in Telstra.
“Part of the 15 months of me coming into Telstra was really recognising some of the reasonable reasons that got in the way,” Ballantyne said. “We needed to focus on the things that are truly important to really redefine the service we deliver to our customers and pay attention to the things that enable us as a business to grow.”
He also attempted to debunk the misconception that a company’s problems can be solved if the staff tried harder.
“Most of the time we should be spending focusing our time being different, not [making the staff] try harder,” Ballantyne said. “That is a very important shift as we think about breaking down many of those reasonable reasons.”
Telstra has gone about an internal cultural change which has driven efficiencies among staff, according to Ballantyne. Because, at the end of the day, they believe in the company, the best advocates for Telstra are the 43,000 workers it has under its wing, he said.
Last year, Telstra invested $1 billion to nab market share in all its business categories, improve customer service and simply the business.
While the telco said the investment has paid off, it still needed to strive to reduce TIO complaints against the company.