World news – Telstra is taking back ownership of retail stores in omnichannel customer service


Telco announces plans to roll back all retail stores as it releases its results for the first half of 2021

Telstra will regain full ownership of the entire Australian retail store network as part of an effort to improve its omnichannel customer game.

The news was announced when the ASX-listed telecommunications company presented its results for the first half of fiscal year 21. It showed a more than 10 percent decrease in total income to $ 12 billion, EBIT decrease 14.7 percent to $ 4.1 billion, and a 2.2 percent decrease in NPAT to 1.1 billion U.S. dollar. The slumps are in large part due to the transition to the National Broadband Network (NBN), lower device sales due to the ongoing trend of customers holding onto increasingly expensive devices longer, and lower store traffic due to COVID-related restrictions.

Andy Penn, CEO of Telstra, said that due to the global pandemic and COVID-19 lockdown, more customers were interacting with the online business and it became clear that ownership of all touchpoints was necessary for retail to  » to be able to deal with customer needs more flexibly ”. The telecommunications company had significant customer service and support issues due to staffing capacity issues at the height of the pandemic.

« We think now is the right time to take ownership back and ensure a consistent and integrated customer experience across our online channels and store network, » said Penn.

“At the height of COVID last year, we were able to recruit frontline staff from Telstra branches to support customers through our digital channels or over the phone. We can take advantage of this flexibility as more retail stores are owned by Telstra. « 

Telstra has more than 60 Telstra owned and operated stores, an additional 166 branded stores operated by individual licensees, and an additional 104 stores operated by the Vita Group. The Vita Group and individual licensees have been informed of the plan. The discussions and transitional arrangements are expected to continue in the coming months and last up to 18 months. The decision does not include Telstra Business Technology Centers or T-Partner operators.

« The important thing is that we know that in many regional and rural cities, the local Telstra store is a valued part of the community providing support and connectivity to a range of businesses and industries, this is not going to change, and our commitment to ensuring that current customers are The licensee continues to receive an excellent level of service is not going to change, ”said Penn.

Michael Ackland, Telstra Group’s executive for consumer and small business, said the move is also aimed at further anchoring responsible business practices through direct working relationships with store employees, improving service standards and solving more customer service issues in the store .

« Ultimately, we want the locals to get what they need by visiting the nearest store or speaking on the phone in a familiar voice, » he added.

According to Ackland, Telstra expects a large retail presence across Australia while expanding availability to purchase and access to services through its digital channels.

In addition to the changes to the retail business, Telstra is in the process of moving its staff and customer support processing back to an onshore model. Penn said the company is on track to respond to all incoming calls from consumer and small business customers within the next 18 months in Australia. The company also closed its call center in Cebu, Philippines earlier this month.

According to Telstra’s results, digital sales interactions with consumers and small business customers increased by 10 percentage points to 40 percent in the first half of 2021 compared to FY 20, which had already increased significantly compared to the previous year. Overall, digital service interactions made up more than 70 percent of all service interactions.

Given the customer service challenges in 2020, Telstra reported an increase in NPS of 3 to 6 in the last six months, but a decrease of 1 compared to the first half of 2020. The strategic NPS has improved over the past six months by 5 and in the last six months by 11 12 months.

« I am very aware of the delays some customers have experienced in trying to contact us, and I apologize for that, » Penn said during his results presentation today. « I also know that not all aspects of our customer experience are where we need them to be, and we have more work to do. »

Other key customer indicators highlighted in the results are an increase in customer loyalty program participants to 2.8 million Telstra Plus members and an increase in average services per customer to 2.75 compared to one in fiscal 18 newly established value of 2.62. Telstra also has 4.42 million active users of My Telstra and Telstra 24×7 apps, up from 4.36 million 12 months ago.

In total, telecommunications reports 19 million mobile retail services, 3.7 million consumer and small business bundle and data services, and 195,000 corporate data and connectivity services. Highlights included an 80,000 increase in post-paid retail cellular services and a $ 3 increase in minimum transaction requirements, as well as 163,000 new wholesale services and 456,000 Internet of Things services. Fixed was tougher, however, as 53,000 new retail bundles were lost.

According to Penn, 2021 was a significant year for Telstra as it realizes key elements of its T22 transformation strategy, first unveiled three years ago.

« After a decade of hiatus after the NBN was founded and rolled out, we can clearly see the path to underlying growth, » he said. « Our investments in innovation and technology, digitization and networks, the improvement of our customer experience and the discipline in our capital management mean that Telstra is in a strong position to grow. »

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