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Looking back at our 2019 AGM

Telstra News

Posted on October 15, 2019

4 min read

On Tuesday 15 October, we held our 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. During the meeting shareholders asked the Board about issues including our plans for the future, share price performance, dividends and executive remuneration. It also gave us an opportunity to update shareholders on our recent progress against our T22 strategy.

Telstra Corporation Chairman John Mullen spoke to our shareholders on the importance of last year’s progress on reshaping Telstra to lead in a rapidly changing competitive environment. “The past twelve months have been very significant year for our business, as we achieved important milestones to radically reshape our business under our T22 strategy.

“It was a year in which we completed our up to $3 billion investment program to create the networks we will need in the future and to completely digitise our business. And a year in which we passed the halfway mark in the migration of customers to the NBN. Significant progress has been made and our business today is already very different, much simpler and more customer focused than we were a year ago.

“Our relentless focus means that we’re now in a better position to serve the modern telecommunications customer. We have reduced more than 1,800 Consumer and Small Business plans to just 20 core offers; we have done away with lock-in contracts on mobile plans, and we have eliminated excess data charges in Australia, just to name a few!”

Mr Mullen also spoke on the scope and scale of our T22 strategy, saying that the massive transformation happening across our business will set us up for the future. “It’s our belief that our T22 transformation is the most radical and ambitious program of work being undertaken by any telecommunications company in the world today. Our industry is fundamentally changing at an extraordinary pace and will never be the same again.

“Our industry today is exploding into a world of cloud computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, big data, drones, satellite technologies, and more. The new-world impact of the NBN, for example, is ever-present in our business today.

“We estimate we have now absorbed around 50 per cent of the economic headwind NBN creates for us, or $1.7 billion on an annualised basis since FY16, with more than 60 per cent of Australian homes now connected.”

Despite the headwind of the NBN, Mr Mullen told shareholders at the AGM that our world-class mobile networks are a strong base for future growth. “Even as we bear these headwinds in our fixed-line business, our mobile network is going from strength to strength. Australia’s fixed-line industry is ranked 58th fastest in the world, while our nation’s mobile networks rank 2nd in the world after South Korea.

“Telstra operates the nation’s first 5G network, enabling extraordinary new developments and opportunities in new fields such as the IoT, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

“We continue to expand our network and our mobile coverage footprint now stretches out to more than 2.5 million square kilometres, vastly more than any other mobile network in Australia, and coverage extends to 99.5 per cent of the Australian population. Furthermore, we’re working closely with the Federal Government to connect more Australians than ever before thanks to the Mobile Black Spot Program.”

Mr Mullen also emphasised the scale of our business, the extensive scale of our networks and our central position in Australia’s economic engine.

“We’re vital to Australia’s growth. If you use an ATM, or you pay for something by EFTPOS, or book a taxi or an airline ticket, the chances are your bank or other organisation will be using Telstra to provide the service.

“Sixty-five million voice calls are made every day on our fixed and mobile networks and more than 33 petabytes of data is sent and received. Our submarine cables linking us to the outside world are long enough to encircle the planet 10 times. This complex array of technologies works exceptionally well and is exceptionally reliable.

“We’re proud of our century-long history connecting Australia. Thanks to our incredible team and yet another year of hard-work, we’re well positioned for the next 100 years already.”

You can read Telstra Chairman John Mullen’s full remarks from the 2019 Annual General Meeting here.

Tags: customers, t22,

One million Telstra Plus members, and one very lucky winner

Tech and Innovation

Posted on October 11, 2019

3 min read

We’re getting ready to welcome our millionth Telstra Plus member – a massive undertaking since we launched our brand new loyalty program in May of this year. To celebrate the runaway success of our loyalty program in the last six months, we’re giving one lucky new member a prize worth over $20,000.

Telstra Plus is our loyalty program for Telstra customers, where your normal monthly spend on your Telstra account gives you points to spend at our Rewards Store, with deals and discounts on the latest technology and accessories. We want to reward you for your loyalty, and to say thank you for being a Telstra customer.

We’ve been blown away by the speed at which we’ve reached almost a million Telstra Plus members, but we haven’t been standing still while it happened. In that time we’ve launched our new no lock-in contract mobile plans, given over a million mobile customers extra data at no charge, continued to lead the way on 5G, and added more products to the Telstra Plus Rewards Store.

Telstra Plus has had some huge milestones along its way to a million members. We were off to a cracking start with over 500,000 enrolments in the first 60 days, and it hasn’t taken us much longer to reach near the million mark. We’ve been excited to see how you’ve been spending your points on our Rewards Store, with thousands of smartphones, tablets, headphones and other gadgets redeemed so far.

We launched Telstra Plus to reward you for your loyalty, and it already has some very loyal members. We’re incredibly proud of our heritage and long history as Australia’s leading telecommunications company, and we’re incredibly grateful for your continued support.

To commemorate this upcoming special occasion, our millionth Telstra Plus member is in for a treat.

The lucky winner will receive:

  • 1 Million points to spend on whatever rewards they like in the Rewards Store
  • Plus their picks from across the Rewards Store
  • 12 months of access to music and sport events
  • 2 exclusive 365-day movie passes

If you’re not already a member, simply visit the Telstra Plus page to join and start earning points.

We launched Telstra Plus this year as part of our T22 strategy to radically simplify our products and services and to put customers first. You’ve always been able to benefit from the best network and the greatest new technology, but with Telstra Plus, being a customer is even more rewarding. We’ve been delighted at your interest in our rewards program in its first six months, and we’re excited to continue to expand it in the coming months and years.

Supporting northern New South Wales through devastating fires

Telstra News

Posted on October 10, 2019

3 min read

In the past week, devastating fires are have ripped through northern New South Wales damaging homes and infrastructure in areas including Rappville, Ewingar and Drake. Many homes were reduced to rubble, with horrible weather conditions wreaking havoc for emergency services.

My thoughts are with the many people who have lost their homes, and the communities that are still in shock over these unprecedented fires. We understand that now it is more important than ever to be able to reach out to friends and family, so if you are living in these communities, you may be eligible for assistance through our disaster relief package.

That means you can access free Telstra public payphones and Telstra Air payphone hotspots in the affected areas. Our customers may also be eligible for mobile phone credit and call diversion. These free and interim services will be for areas including; Drake, Tabulam, Ewingar, Busbys Flat, Wyan, Rappville, Ellangowan, Myrtle Creek, Bungawalbin and Jackadgery during the recovery period.

Customers who have had to evacuate or have lost their home are encouraged to call us on 132 203 to report a fault and register for the assistance package.

Our teams are working to restore impacted services as quickly as possible. In some cases, poor conditions are preventing us from reaching some areas but we will attend as soon as it’s safe to do so.

In the meantime, we will keep our customers and the wider community across impacts to Telstra services and continue to work closely with local councils to assist with the recovery effort.

Telstra’s relief packages can include the following:

Short term measures (for Telstra customers who have a short term impact – temporary evacuation of premises or temporary fault):

  • Free use of Telstra public payphones in the affected areas
  • Free use of Telstra Air payphone hotspots in the affected areas
  • Free call diversion from an affected fixed home or business phone service to another fixed or mobile service of the customer’s choice, regardless of the carrier
  • Customers who use the free call diversion to divert their affected fixed home or business phone to their Telstra mobile service, can also make local and STD® calls on their mobile at fixed line rates, in accordance with their selected plan (limited to one designated Telstra mobile per affected household or business)
  • Affected Telstra mobile customers who do not have a Telstra home phone can receive a one-off credit to the value of $100 inc. GST (limited to one mobile phone per Telstra mobile account).

The above offers are applicable until network damage in the area due to fire is repaired, or while customers remain evacuated, for a maximum period of three months from the date of the fires.

Long term measures (for Telstra customers who have suffered severe damage to or loss of their premises):

Fixed services

  • Free call diversion from the customer’s Telstra fixed phone service to another Australian fixed or mobile service of their choice, regardless of the carrier. This offer is applicable for a maximum period of 6 months from the date of the fire.
  • In addition, Telstra will apply a one off credit to the value of $500 inc. GST to the customer’s Telstra fixed phone account to help cover the costs of the following, if required:
  • Connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at one temporary residence
  • Re-connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at the customer’s original permanent premises

In the meantime, we will keep our customers and the wider community across impacts to Telstra services and continue to work closely with emergency services and local councils to assist with the recovery effort.

Delivering Australia’s emergency lifeline of the future

Telstra News

Posted on October 10, 2019

3 min read

More than 8.9 million calls are made to Triple Zero every year. We want to make sure that every single one of those calls for help is given the best possible service in the hour of need. That’s why we’re making a series of enhancements to this vital service, to better ensure assistance gets to you when you need it most.

A national priority

Telstra has been responsible for answering Triple Zero calls and transferring them to emergency service organisations from the start – 58 years and counting – and it’s a responsibility we take extremely seriously.

Before the early 1960s you had to scramble to find the numbers of your local emergency services when you were in trouble. So one simple, central number was launched in 1961.

To ensure calls got where they needed to go, Triple Zero (000) was chosen as the automatic routing number that would direct these critically important calls to vital help.

Even the number itself was chosen for its simplicity: 0 was the closest number to dial on old rotary phones in an emergency, meaning it was the fastest number you can dial when you’re in a crisis.

A lot has changed since we picked up the first call.

Our commitment to fast and easy access to emergency services continues into the 21st century, and now we’re working to deliver the emergency lifeline of the future.

Driving the future of Triple Zero

Today we opened a new 24-hour Triple Zero contact centre in Adelaide, which links with our two other Victoria- and New South Wales-based centres.

A third contact centre allows us the flexibility to bring in additional resources during peak periods, like a major incident or natural disaster, and upscale in the future while also providing an extra layer of assurance for the community.

All our Triple Zero contact centres are designed to ensure the first available Telstra agent answers the caller as quickly as possible, regardless of where the call comes from.

New digital platforms are a key element of our T22 strategy, and specially designed software that provides better usability, flexibility and stability for operators now, while also enabling future capabilities, is being rolled out to all three centres.

Imagine one day being injured while bushwalking and being able to video call emergency services for help, giving them vital information about your injuries. Meanwhile, rescue crews are already heading your way thanks to enhanced location data capabilities. What if you could discreetly text authorities when calling isn’t an option, such as in a domestic violence situation? Our new digital platform will be able to support enhanced features like these as technology continues to advance.

The Solacom Guardian platform we’re implementing for Triple Zero is used worldwide, and supports public safety agencies affecting millions of lives annually.

We know every second counts in an emergency and we will continue to work with relevant authorities to further improve Triple Zero.

Tackling the changing face of customer service

Tech and Innovation T22

Posted on September 13, 2019

6 min read

Back when our now vibrant and intensely competitive telecommunications sector was only just starting to flourish in the late 1990s, the needs and expectations of customers were fundamentally different from what they are today.

It is fair to say the bar for what constituted good service was comparatively low. The number of service offerings available were few and, for many customers, provided you were able to pick up your home phone and get a dial tone, you were more or less happy.

From dial tone days to data-hungry network

From the early ’90s the landscape began to shift and a dial tone and rudimentary dial-up internet access certainly no longer cut it. Those rising expectations crashed headlong into the cold reality of poor customer experience and translated into a huge spike in the number of complaints as customers expressed their dissatisfaction and frustration with the services they were getting from their providers.

In 2009 the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman received 230,000 complaints. That was a staggering 54 per cent increase on the year before. Mobile complaints for that year also more than doubled, overtaking complaints about landlines for the first time and providing a glimpse of how mobility and connectivity would soon become central in our lives.

The causes of those complaints were many and varied. Failures relating to service, billing and the ability for telcos’ to effectively communicate with their customers.

The overall message was loud and clear – as an industry we were fundamentally failing our customers.

As we moved into the 2010s, another issue emerged as a leading cause of customer complaints – bill shock. 

The advent of the first smartphones, along with complex pricing structures and charges for premium services and data use meant many customers had little idea of the costs and charges they were facing. Little idea that was, until the bill arrived!

Fast forward to today and it is a very different story. Recently the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman described consumer complaints as “having turned a corner”. In fact, while the number of customers and services attached to plans continues to rise exponentially, the number of industry complaints this year was actually lower than it was a decade ago.

Changing business goals to meet customer needs

While this is a good achievement we still have a very long way to go, which is why in June last year we launched our new T22 strategy – to overhaul our business in line with the changing needs of our customers. T22 is built around the core idea of streamlining and radically simplifying our organisation, our operations and our products and services.

The plan focuses on improving the experience for our customers and our people, reducing our costs and structuring the business to maximise the value of our assets.  What makes T22 possible is a multi-billion-dollar strategic investment program to digitise and automate our systems and deliver the networks for the future, including 5G.

In 2018, we had over 1,800 plans for our consumer and small business customers.  Each of these had its own complexities, its own unique service charges and plan rules. In June of this year, we made good on our promise to reduce this complexity and today we have just 20 for new services.

We have removed other customer pain points by:

  • introducing no lock-in plans across fixed and mobile services – the first major Australian telco to do so
  • no longer charging for excess mobile data usage on new domestic plans giving customers flexibility with build-your-own mobile plans including entertainment options, add-on BYO mobile plans, a range of accessories and devices with no upfront charges and technology solutions such as Smart Home
  • introducing Telstra Plus, a new loyalty program which has more than 800,000 customers already signed up

Our small business customers are also benefiting from no excess data charges in Australia on new mobile plans and dedicated services including 24/7 tech support and Business Technology Centres.

In the next 12 months, we will also migrate further to the new digital systems we have been building where customers can expect simplified billing, digital service and real-time delivery and appointment updates, among other improvements.

Looking after our customers now and in the future

Looking ahead, we are increasingly aware that as technology becomes more sophisticated we are faced with new customer challenges, including in the areas of privacy and an increase in scams.

As regulators strengthen privacy and data protection laws around the world we continue to bolster our already robust processes and operational guidelines to ensure we comply with all relevant privacy regulations.

This includes notifiable data breach reporting, the General Data Protection Regime and lawful information requests from government and law enforcement agencies.

Protecting our customers’ personal information and our networks from unauthorised access depends on a combination of technical solutions, security controls and internal processes. Those things change as the nature of threat changes but in the end, we know customers rightly expect that their data is handled with the utmost care and consideration. 

Staying ahead of customer security

Another emerging challenge is an exponential increase in the number of scams targeting Australian consumers. In many ways they are like whack-a-mole – you thwart one scam and another one pops up.

This is no game though – they usually involve a customer getting a call from an overseas country that dials once and hangs up. If the customer calls back they are unwittingly dialling a premium number and will incur significant call costs – and the profits go directly to the scammers and this year they are expected to net more than $500 million from unwary Australian consumers.

There is nothing isolated about these scams either – in July alone we blocked 2.9 million scam calls! And yet still they come.  

This is an industry-wide issue of broad community concern and we need industry, government and regulators to work together to address it. For all of this though perhaps the most effective response is informed and empowered consumers. Consumers who are alive to the risks and part of the response.

There is no doubt that the next few decades will see a revolution built on connectivity, on rapidly changing, digitally-enabled customer experiences and expectations, and a complete overhaul in the way companies like Telstra go to market with their products and services.

Through all of this, we will always carry a special responsibility that today shines through in our company purpose, building a connected future so everyone can thrive, and it is a responsibility we take incredibly seriously.

This is an excerpt from a keynote that was first delivered at ACCAN and published on LinkedIn.

Tags: customers,