As dominant players in a multi-billion-dollar industry, the big guns of the telecommunications market have long appreciated the benefits of offshoring parts of their businesses. Major Australian telcos including Telstra, Optus and Vodafone outsourced their contact centres to countries such as the Philippines many years ago and have subsequently been able to grow profits, improve quality and increase efficiencies.
Now the rise of the COVID-19 global pandemic has created a number of challenges for such telcos and many are doing their best to meet those challenges head-on.
With offshore call centres forced to switch off, one issue that reared its head for all telecom providers was security and privacy. The possibility of offshore team members working from their own homes – and thus accessing Australian citizens’ records from them – posed questions about the level of security that could be provided. It also forced the telcos to consider how they could provide an assurance to their relevant ombudsmen that sensitive material would be safe.
Ultimately, such privacy-related issues meant working from home was not signed off immediately and telcos had to adapt quickly to ensure they could continue to deliver for their customers.
This included a number of them providing concierge-led online repatriation so their customers could access a level of service or help in the first instance. Without missing a beat, they hired at scale and deployed customer service staff within their onshore businesses.
Another early fallout of the COVID-19 crisis was many customers were waiting in queues to get hold of an end-user. While a lot of telcos had mature messaging as a channel, it was a different story for those largely dependent on email or voice.
A lot of telcos now say they want to dramatically change their channel mix, with as much as 80 per cent to be messaging as opposed to voice or email. That digital shift means they will have to improve their in-app experience and marketing experience, while there are various other initiatives that will assist with the change. This includes working with the likes of Google and training providers to equip agents to adequately work on messaging channels and provide the same and better outcomes they would have from other channels.
Team of Experts
No conversation about recent trends in the telco sector is complete without mention of T-Mobile and its Team of Experts. As one of the United States’ biggest telecom providers, T-Mobile has won applause for reinventing customer support by creating communities of people who work together to resolve customer concerns.
Where a customer may have once been forced to dial several different numbers to find the appropriate person to address their issue, T-Mobile publicly launched Team of Experts in 2018 and, as defined by T-Mobile’s Callie Field, it is exactly what it sounds like – “a small team of care experts centralised in one location, dedicated to a single, geographically based customer market.”
As a leading service provider in the Australian marketplace, our company has embraced the concept, deploying it for a number of customers and finetuning it to a certain extent. Team of Experts is a scalable concept that can move laterally through sectors and consulting teams can identify how best the model can be deployed in highly complex environments.
In a world where customer care is crucial, it’s all about employing universal, highly equipped, heightened coaching for teams of individuals to create brilliant outcomes for customers.