Telstra falls short of customer service goals

Despite a significant focus on customer service initiatives over the past year, Telstra (ASX: TLS) has still fallen short of expectations to reduce complaints and improve customer satisfaction.

Speaking at an analyst briefing of the telco’s full financial results for the year ending 30 June 2011, Telstra chief executive, David Thodey, said most of the company’s strategies were on track, except customer service.

“While it’s improving, we’re not quite where we want to be,” he said. “There are a number of complaints coming through which is still a little bit higher than we wanted and we want to manage that.”

The telco had set itself a goal of a 30 per cent year-on-year reduction in the number of complaints lodged to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). Instead it achieved just a six per cent decrease.

Customer satisfaction numbers also improved for the telco, but by just half of the six per cent target set for the full year to 30 June 2011.

“While this reflects progress, it is a multi-year program and remains the highest priority for the entire company,” Thodey said.

However, the results did record a figure of 74 per cent for first contact resolution for customers, just one per cent off its target of 75 per cent by 2013.

According to documents released to the ASX, the telco’s operating expenses for the year to 30 June 2011 increased by $970 million or 6.8 per cent as a result of customer services initiatives following Thodey’s announcement in June last year that the telco was moving to become customer-focused.

The measures implemented by the telco include weekend technician services recording about 80,000 weekend appointments made by customers, 24/7 call centres, online booking of appointments and added self-serve billing and payment options for mobile and online accounts.

Earlier this year, the telco made a number of appointments to build its customer focus ahead of the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout and unified its entire sales and retail customer service workforce into a single division from the 1 August this year.

“We are investing in a single retail customer-facing workforce that will now be unified in a single team, enabling us to work as one team to serve our customers better,” Thodey said at the time.

The establishment of a new applications and ventures subsidiary was also to contribute to the customer focus, dedicated to partnering with developers to provide apps in verticals including healthcare, education, energy and e-commerce and to compete in an NBN-world.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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