It's official, Telstra has won me over. I now am an advocate, a fan and a promoter. In the past year I have noticed a remarkable change in the customer service level of Australia's largest Telecommunications provider. Their service is now top notch and in this blog I will tell you the three lessons we can all learn from their turnaround and in the process how they doubled their share price. I'm sure we would all like to double the value of our businesses so read on!
Before I let you know how Telstra turned it all around, I need to be transparent on how I know a bit more than the average punter about Telstra. I have four different perspectives:
Firstly, I am a long term customer. For about 20 years I have used a variety of Telstra products from home phone (no longer using), mobile (now business instead of consumer) and internet. I have experience the pain of their bureaucracy and wasn't a happy camper for many years, but they have managed to turn me around.
Secondly, I use to work for Sensis the advertising arm of Telstra. I was the Digital Marketing Manager for four years from 2007 to 2011. During that time I was exposed to many areas of the business and saw David Thodey present live a few times.
Thirdly, David Thodey's daughter did work experience for me for brief period so I got to see a little bit more about the CEO than most.
Finally, I have done a little bit of Personal Brand consulting work for the marketing area of Telstra. Nothing huge, just a bit here and there. I am currently not doing any paid work for them.
Now that's out of the way, here are my three learnings on customer service from Telstra.
EXCEPTION CUSTOMER SERVICE TIPS FROM TELSTRA
1) Intent: I remember seeing David Thodey, Telstra CEO present in 2008. He was absolutely clear about his mission in the business, improve customer service. It was an internal presentation and so he was honest about the scale of challenge it would take to turn around consumer opinion.
There was so much bad news about the company and most of it based on the rubbish systems and services Telstra had at the time. It was a huge problem and exceedingly complex, but he was focused. He had a strong intent and thus went about improving the systems and bringing together all the different areas of the business under a central mission.
What's the intent for your business? Do you have a clear and galvanising focus for your business and team to work on each day. If not get one.
2) Measurement: To measure how they were going with this Intent they used a commonly known customer service measure called the Net Promoter Score. I have blogged on this previously as I am a big believer in this process. The system has been around for ages but most companies just can't implement it due to getting all areas of the business aligned to this one measure.
Telstra did and it has had a major impact on every area of their business. I know for a fact that the CEO's bonus is impacted by this one measure in the same way all retail staff members are. I just bought a new internet device from Telstra and I know David was measured on this because he told me.
It's important to him, the CEO and everyone in between because it impacts their back pocket. We know what get's measured get's done but it is a brave man who can put this in place. How do you measure your staff? I highly recommend NPS as it simplifies it to one number and customers love it because surveys are super short!
3) Patience: It has taken 7 to 8 years to improve the back end systems and put in place effective measurement practices so that everyone now cares about the customer. But the proof is in the pudding.
Today David from the 406 Collins Street branch was super helpful, friendly and useful. I know his name because he gave me his card and asked me to call him personally if I have any questions or issues - imagine that 5 years ago! He knows that tomorrow I will get an email survey asking me two simple questions. Am I happy with my service and would I recommend Telstra to my friends (NPS).
I know that my response of a 9 or 10 will get David and the CEO a bonus and right now I hope they get paid it as the service was exceptional.
Some people reading this will say it's too hard to implement such a system in their businesses. They are too big, too small, too diversified. It will take too long perhaps. I agree it is challenging if you are not the CEO, but the benefits are just to great to ignore. It literally turned around this gigantic company and doubled their value. When will you start?
Remember the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today. Get started.
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