Friday, August 10, 2012

All It Takes Is A Good Beating

Once upon a time Telstra had a web page that gave you the details to contact a specific director with a problem…I don’t know if it still exists…if it does I’m guessing its so deeply buried on the web site that you’ll have to do an Indiana Jones to find it…I’m guessing they got rid of it.

So Peter had enough and decided that the nuclear option was the only thing left so he called the AE for one of the companies he consulted to and explained to him that if they couldn’t transfer a phone because of different internal Telstra billing systems that he would have to advise his clients and suggest they move to another carrier.

All of a sudden after a few phone calls things started to happen and magically the transfer could be executed.

So it now the base line was set - if you want to get something happening with Telstra all you have to do is threaten to take away a few hundred thousand dollars worth of business but if you can’t do that then you are well and truly and comprehensively screwed.

So finally, after three months and having to threaten to take away business a single mobile phone was transferred from one account to another and moved from one billing system to another.

What excellent customer service. The David Thodey promise is being delivered.

But here’s the kicker.

About two weeks ago a headhunter contacted Peter and asked him if he’d be interested in working at Telstra.

After Peter stopped laughing and picked himself up off the floor the headhunter told him it was for a project that Telstra was getting off the ground that was to look at workflows and processes and cross functional business units to address customer service shortfalls.

Peter was amazed, he’d been told about this by a couple of Telstra directors that he met with. The company has spent hundreds of thousands on consultants to put together a plan to address the issue - Peter told these guys that if they wanted to save the money all they had to do was get customers who think Telstra’s service blows goats into a room and find out why…really find out why rather than pay lip service and they’d know how to fix the problem.

The feedback from Telstra was that they wanted to use an internal guy, or had someone in mind for the role.

This initiative from Telstra is doomed to failure because institutionally they just don’t want to hear how fucked up they really are and Peter was the guy, he’s been dealing with them for over 15 years and knows warts and all what’s broken internally and more importantly he can bring the consumer prospective to the table.

Good luck Telstra its going to be another wasted effort and lots of shareholder dollars will go down the toilet.

I predict that there will be no change after all the hoopla.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

So You Think It Can't get Any Worse

Now as Peter was telling me this story I thought to myself that it couldn’t get any worse - I didn’t realise how wrong I was...

So enough was enough for Peter so he hit the phones and started to escalate up the Telstra chain until finally he got through to someone who started to make things happen - or so he thought.

Everything sounded good, he sent scanned versions of the paperwork and the ephemeral voice on the other end of the line told him he could rest peacefully knowing it would all be taken care of.

…now we fast forward four weeks…

Peter stormed into the T Life store on George Street and came across the guy who originally was supposed to deal with the issue just lounging on a chair kibitzing with another one of his overworked brethren. They locked eyes. The Telstra guy made a beeline for the office but he was too slow and Peter intercepted him.

“Hi. I’m not leaving until this gets fixed. Where’s the manager?”

The Telstra guy looked like he swallowed a T-Pad and scrambled for the office. Peter waited.

To paint you a picture the office is behind a featureless door with a numeric keypad lock, you can’t see in.

Peter waited some more. Finally after waiting for nearly twenty minutes he pulled out his mobile phone and called the T-Life store. Eventually when he got through he asked to speak to the manager. When he got put through Peter told the manager that he wasn’t planning on leaving until the matter was settled.

The manager walked out of the office.

Note to Thody, David Telstra CEO:

This is not good customer service.

After much back and forth the manager basically gave up and said ‘They told me we can’t do anything for you so I’m sorry there’s nothing more we can do. You can’t consolidate the service.”

Peter decided enough was enough. It was time for the nuclear option.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Telstra Improves Service from Screw! You! to Up! Yours!

So, in yesterday’s entry I started telling you the story of Peter and how Telstra treated him to a telco initiated pineapple enema, today I can tell you how they escalated the pineapple to a telephone pole.

So after a few months of everything going right Peter found things weren’t working again so he started hitting the phones, spending yours on hold and dealing with call centres in the far flung corners of the globe with staff whose concept of customer service was ‘the customer is here to serve us’.

So after getting nowhere with the various call centres, including the Bigpond one which has been set up inside a Black Hole because all communications go in, but, nothing ever comes back.

Finally he gets things rectified after a couple of months of calls each week, averaging between 45 minutes to over an hour on hold.

…only it wasn’t…

The idiots at Telstra had associated his personal account with that of his employer without any authority, written or verbal from Peter and he didn’t know. All of a sudden his ability to log into online account maintenance disappeared and he just chalked it up to typical Telstra efficiency he didn’t know what they had done.

He let it slide because he was going to consolidate all his services to one bill and then get his wife’s mobile on the same bill so that he could just have one bill to pay per month…you’d think this would be an easy thing to do…but…ohhhh noooo…this became another example of Telstra.

So getting his Internet, mobile and landline onto one bill was easy so after he got the first bill and all looked good he decided to move his wife’s mobile onto the same account.

And then Telstra customer service reared its ugly head and the the telephone pole was turned into a cellular phone tower.

Tomorrow we can talk about what happened when something that should have been easy to do encountered Telstra’s internal workings.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Telstra spells service - S-C-R-E-W! Y-O-U!

Finally back in the world after dealing with one of those too big to be killed but everything that can go wrong did projects.

I spent the last week catching up with friends and one of them told me this story which is just the greatest example of why David Thodey is flogging a beached whale in his search for customer service.

I’ll call my friend Peter. Now - back in January 2010 he discovered that his email address, that he had since the days when 14.4k modems were blindingly fast connect speeds, stopped working. After a whole bunch of phone calls he found that Telstra had migrated the account from an ‘old’ billing system to a ‘new’ billing system and everything broke. They got it fixed, but then the next month - same problem and again many phone calls, hours on hold with call centres and finally got it all back online again. Next month, same problem and same process - by this point in time he was getting pretty pissed off with the whole process.

He also discovered that somewhere in the tinkering that Telstra did his ability to access his online billing stopped working. A few phone calls to get that sorted and still no luck. So he just stopped paying the bill - that way when Telstra rang up to threaten him with disconnection he could tell them the whole sorry saga and get the notes associated with the account history and then pay them. This also went on for a few months until finally he got onto someone in Telsra who showed some initiative and wanted to proactively fix the problem for the customer.

Now I’m guessing that they got their ass fired because they were too customer focused and wouldn’t fit in with the Telstra culture of approaching the customer with a jar of Vaseline and charging them for the table to bend over.

So they called around, spoke to people and finally told him I’ve found a group that can fix your problem. They did, but, to fix it they had to change his user name for the billing system. Now he’d spent time setting everything up so he could login with the one user name for everything he did with Telstra and some ‘customer service’ fool told him that Telstra’s systems could not support what he wanted and so he could either accept what they were telling him or go away.

So given such a wide range of customer focused options he accepted it and trundled along.

Unhappy but, like most of us resigned to the fact that even this piss poor outcome was pretty good for Telstra.

In the next entry I’ll continue along with this story and you’ll be amazed at how comprehensively Telstra can screw things up and then blame the customer for the problem.