Comic start to NZ Telstra services

There is a new star in the local telco market. Telstra? Well, yes, but more so Peter Williamson, Telstra New Zealand's managing director, who met his business market at a launch on Tuesday night at the Auckland casino.

Veterans of seminars and conferences will be familiar with the lengths to which essentially sober telco executives will go to make themselves appear entertaining. At last year's TUANZ conference Telecom CEO Rod Deane even cast himself as straight man to Gary McCormick.

Williamson, it appears, won't need the hired help. He strode the casino stage like a stand-up comic, giving away a golf putter and a computer golf game in the course of an extended metaphor about the difference between technology and expertise. Telstra, he promises his potential customers, will become "not a business partner, but part of your business".

Telstra already offers IDD and STD services here and Williamson says ISDN is on the way. He says Telstra has signed up its first New Zealand-based customer for its 1-900 number service in Australia. The toll-free telemarketing service will also be available in Asian countries.

Like Williamson, Charlie Zoi, the head of the company's business, international and enterprise group, stresses the telco's status as the largest carrier in the Asia-Pacific region and its expertise in Asia. Of the more traditional executive mode, Zoi stayed behind a lecturn and his only attempt to match Williamson's moves was a bold invitation for Telstra customers to call him at home if they had service problems.

@IDG can tell its readers that Mr Zoi's number is 0061299683648. And no, we don't know what's on Mr Zoi's answerphone ...

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