Inside Telstra’s effort to slash NBN complaint wait times

January 29, 2018

Part of billion-dollar digitisation drive.

Telstra is overhauling the technology that underpins its management of NBN fault complaints to a single, cloud-based platform that will eventually serve the telco’s entire assurance business.

The company has spent the last 18 months getting the ServiceNow platform bedded down into its NBN fault rectification function.

The platform removes the need for call centre staff to access nine separate systems in order to obtain the information required to deal with complaints about NBN services.

It consolidates information such as customer address, network performance, and type of NBN connection, amongst other data, into one central interface for customer service staff.

This required an architectural rebuild of the assurance process, Telstra CIO John Romano told iTnews; the telco has effectively removed the ‘middle man’ systems that sat between the source data stores and the customer service interface.

The telco has also taken the opportunity to integrate new diagnostic tools into the ServiceNow platform to cut down on the number of systems staff need to access to obtain different network diagnostics.

“For one of our staff to interact with an NBN fixed line customer, historically they would have to interact with nine different systems,” Romano said.

“Those older systems have served us well for many, many years. But as they’ve evolved and developed – and we’ve had many interfaces built into them and added more product structures – they’ve evolved into complex systems.

“So to make changes in response to our customers and our staff, it becomes very difficult. That’s why the need is there to build more cloud-based and digital platforms.”

Early results from the ServiceNow implementation have shown a drastic reduction in the amount of time it takes to resolve a technical NBN complaint.

Telstra is touting a drop in average time per call to six minutes, down from around 15 minutes previously.

It also says the amount of times field technicians have been sent out on unnecessary visits has fallen by 55 percent.

The new platform is currently being used by around 1000 staff, equivalent to almost 80 percent of the customer service workers that are tasked with handling technical complaints from customers about their Telstra-provided NBN service.

The remaining staff are expected to be moved across shortly; Telstra has approached the process so far in chunks of 200 staff per migration.

It has prioritised the call centre and will bring the platform to its online channel once the call centre migration is complete.

The ServiceNow platform will eventually serve as Telstra’s strategic platform for fault rectification across its entire business. Romano did not provide a timeline for the rollout.

Agile driving digital transformation

The ServiceNow deployment was one of two strategic technology decisions made by Telstra in recent years as part of its overhaul to an agile way of working.

It was made in unison with a decision to similarly adopt Salesforce as the core customer relationship management (CRM) platform across Telstra.

Telstra was one of Salesforce’s two launch customers when the company started offering its software-as-a-service platform on Amazon Web Services infrastructure in Sydney last October.

Salesforce will replace “many, many” CRMs – including Siebel, which is a core CRM for Telstra and has been in place for over 30 years – that have sprouted as a result of organic growth and acquisitions.

Telstra has completed data migration from the old CRMs into Salesforce and is now at the stage of building the functions for fixed and mobile service activations onto the platform.

Some Telstra staff are already using Salesforce to activate new enterprise orders, Romano said.

The telco will decide when to retire existing platforms – both for CRM and IT service management – on a strategic basis rather than follow a strict timeline, he said.

Digitisation is one arm of a three-pronged, $3 billion investment by Telstra into its operations made in late 2016 following a series of damaging outages.

The investment spans core networks ($1.5 billion), customer experience ($500 million), and digitisation ($1 billion).

The telco revealed late last year that the digitisation drive would see 800 IT applications – half its entire environment – retired, contained or migrated within the next three years. More than 200 projects are being undertaken in the digitisation effort.

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