New Thinking Needed to Turn Around Telco Consumer Confidence Crisis

May 11 2017, by Luke Clifton | Category: Telecom

 

The dramatic spike in consumer complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman demanded Innovative and imaginative regulation to head off a crisis in confidence as the pace of NBN migration grew, Macquarie Telecom Group Executive Luke Clifton said today.

“Any initiative to turn around the customer experience across the industry needs to stimulate new thinking in the industry, starting with a willingness to admit we have a problem,” Mr Clifton said.

“Change has to be owned by the industry, not imposed as a new obligation,” he said.

“Past approaches that set minimum standards for specific services – such as connection times – have not created a culture of caring about consumers, but rather been too often honoured in the breach .

“The industry – and customers – have become accustomed to chronically high levels of complaints and unhappiness,” he said.

“We have been worried for many months now that this was setting the scene for a tsunami of angry customers as the NBN migration created increased service disruption – even before today’s disastrous figures, complaints in our industry were three to four times higher than against the banks!”

“Today’s numbers showing them up by almost 34 percent demands action.”

One approach might be to require companies with high numbers of complaints to publish “rectification plans” describing what they would do to improve their own businesses, Mr Clifton said.

“The advantage – or the carrot – of this idea is that it does not tell companies how to run their own business, but the stick could be that companies have to publish and commit to the plans. Macquarie, for its part, has implemented a three-part policy for improving customer service over the past four years through:

  • Investing in bringing onshore its customer contact and care and network operations;
  • Measuring and internally reporting customer satisfaction in real time, and;
  • Publishing a live, 30 day rolling measure of customer satisfaction on our public website so customers themselves can police our performance.

“This program has worked wonders in transforming our culture, but other telcos might come up with their own programs, that work for them.

“The important thing, though, is that the industry as a whole embraces the fact that there is a problem that only it can fix.

“The challenge is finding a regulatory response that stimulates this acknowledgement by the industry and starts the ball rolling toward genuine cultural change, without being too heavy handed.”

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