Telstra call centre staff have language issues

Telstra call centre staff have language issues

Telstra call centre staff in Perth in the spotlight

Telstra call centre staff in Perth have language problems according to their CEO David Thodey as reported by SMH.

The next time you get mad at Telstra’s call centre staff for having poor English, there is a 50 per cent chance you should aim your rage at Perth and not Mumbai or Manila.

Telstra chief executive David Thodey told an Australian Institute of Company Directors lunch in Sydney on Wednesday that he often received complaints from irate customers about overseas call centres and their apparent failure to understand English.

But further investigations showed Western Australians were just as bad as call centre staff in the Philippines and India.

“Interestingly, when we get criticism about so-called foreign contact centres, 50 per cent of the time the people are in Perth, because we’re a multicultural society and often the criticism is around language or communications skills,” he said.

“And I say, I don’t care where these contact centres are, we must have a high standard. Good communications, good English and [they must] know the company.”

Telstra call centre staff in Perth have language problems according to their CEO David Thodey
Former Telstra CEO predicted in 2014 that call centres will not exist in 5 years. Umm, newsflash: he was wrong.

Telstra has previously said more than 50 per cent of complaints about language problems were about Australian workers, but this is the first time it has identified the main culprit city.

It operates call centres across Australia in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, plus regional locations.

The future of call centres

Mr Thodey said in August he did not think call centre jobs would exist in Australia in five years, due to the internet and smartphone applications.

At the event on Wednesday, Mr Thodey said his earlier comments may have been overenthusiastic, but he stood by the sentiment.

“I do fundamentally see that contact centres will decline in the future,” he said. “More people are going online and they prefer it as a better experience.”

David Thodey was replaced by new Telstra CEO Andy Penn in April 2015 and Telstra have continued to move contact centre roles offshore, primarily to the Philippines.

Update 2020:

Well not only did David Thodey get it wrong (the contact centre industry is alive and kicking in 2020), but the new Telstra CEO announced that Telstra will be withdrawing all call centre jobs from offshore and only handling inbound calls from Australia.

To be fair, part of that decision is based on the reduction of call volumes thanks to digitisation as more and more customers can complete transactions or get help online.

But we’re still claiming that David Thodey got it wrong!

Recommended further reading: Do customers even care what country the call centre is in?

Find a list of local call centre outsourcers, consultants, trainers, recruitment agencies and more the free CX Directory >>>


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