Howard's end to the long queue problem

TelstraClear's Rosemary Howard acknowledges poor performance by the company's customer support service.

TelstraClear chief Rosemary Howard prefaced her interview on interconnection and leasing charges with an apology to this reporter for the disappointing performance of the TelstraClear customer support service, experienced at first-hand last month.

The long wait for a response from helpdesk operators, she says, was due to a combination of teething problems with the company’s new unified Christchurch contact centre and the unexpectedly enthusiastic response to TelstraClear’s new Home 150 internet plan, intended as a replacement for the terminated Zfree service.

TelstraClear has set up a complementary faults contact centre in Auckland. It plans eventually to merge the help and fault services of TelstraSaturn ISP Paradise with this structure, though the centre handling those queries will stay in Wellington in the short term.

Unified contact centres are more efficient than the “number of small sub-optimal centres around the country” that TelstraSaturn and Clear had before the consequences of the merger worked their way through, Howard says.

TelstraClear obtained “a lot of good learning” from the experience of discontented contact centre users, which attracted a spate of negative media publicity. As one contribution to easing frustration, she says, the company will be putting a periodic message on the line for waiting customers informing them where they are in the queue.

Computerworld's reporter spent an aggregate time of around 80 minutes in three blocks waiting for an answer on a payment that had evidently gone astray, and had resulted in a connection being toll-barred and the Saturn Cinema pay-per-view service blocked for non-payment.

Eventually he was told that the cheque paying the overdue amount had arrived in TelstraClear’s system on the same day (Tuesday, April 23) that the toll bar was imposed. The bar was not lifted until the following weekend.

Howard points out that enquiries on account balances can also be done online and messages sent by email, but the first requires knowledge of a password and to be assigned (or reminded of) one's password a preliminary call to the helpdesk or an email is necessary.

An email was sent on the Wednesday afternoon (Thursday being Anzac Day), but it was obviously not attended to on the Friday.

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