BigPond: talk to a computer, then the Philippines

Telstra’s CEO Solomon Trujillo professes to cherish one business principle above all: “We have put the customer at the centre of everything we do and every decision we make. We differentiate ourselves by delivering added value to our customers” he told an investor conference in May.

Despite this mantra Sol’s idea of giving added value to the customer is apparently forcing them to talk to a computer for 10 minutes before they can speak to a real person – who will be based in the Philippines.

From February customers calling Telstra’s internet division BigPond for tech support can expect this treatment.

The outsourced provider of BigPond’s tech support TeleTech has advised a large proportion of its Australian workforce that they will no longer be required as BigPond’s call centres will be moving to the lower labour-cost country by 1st February 2009.

Separately Telstra confirmed that before customers are even put through to a real person at TeleTech they will need to go through an extensive interactive computerised voice process which forces customers through a lengthy troubleshooting process every time they call.

Telstra excused the computerised tech support by saying it had been using speech recognition-based IVRs on its main Telstra enquiry lines since 2004 and for BigPond since April. “This service is not new and completely unrelated to our relationship with TeleTech.”

Telstra refused to comment on the issue of outsourcing the call centre jobs to the Philippines deferring all enquiries on the topic to its third-party provider TeleTech.

TeleTech told APC it was moving Australian jobs overseas in order due to its” commitment to enhance the quality of service it provides to Australian consumers.”

However it added paradoxically “the reassigning of this work is strategic and in no way reflects on the outstanding performance of TeleTech’s Australian teams.”

Listen to APC trying to talk to Telstra’s computerised voice