Telstra launches Facebook customer service

The move follows CEO David Thodey's admission that Telstra's customer service improvement targets have not been met

Telstra has launched customer service via Facebook following an admission by chief executive, David Thodey, that the company had fallen short on its customer service improvement goals for the 2011 financial year.

In a blog post, executive director of Telstra digital, Gerd Schenkel, said expanded use of social media was prompted through the understanding that many customers prefer talking to the telco “in the wee hours of the night”.

Using the new service, customers can “live chat” with Telstra staff online 24/7 or post a question to which staff will “aim” to respond via email within two to four hours.

“Over 20% of tweets to @telstra are “after hours” (a concept that doesn’t really exist online in the first place),” the blog post reads. “Which is why our social media support team is now available 24/7- so we can answer that niggling question you have about data usage in the middle of the night... Or you can get help when overseas, whatever the time zone.”

The telco started its Twitter account back in 2009, from which time it has sent about 35,000 messages to 11,000 followers.

It has also launched a new customer forum, CrowdSupport, where customers can ask other customers questions about the telco’s products and services or ask for help about using them or a certain device. However, Telstra staff will also be on hand to answer questions. Additionally, it has also extended the hours of its Adelaide-based social media team to be available every day of the year 24 hours per day.

At an analyst briefing of the telco’s full financial results for the year ending 30 June 2011, Thodey, said most of the company’s strategies were on track, except customer service.

“While it’s improving, we’re not quite where we want to be,” he said. “There are a number of complaints coming through which is still a little bit higher than we wanted and we want to manage that,” Thodey said at the time.

Thodey initially announced a strategy to better customer service back in June last year, which was followed by a number of appointments to build customer focus ahead of the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout. The telco also unified its entire sales and retail customer service workforce into a single division from the 1 August this year.

“We are investing in a single retail customer-facing workforce that will now be unified in a single team, enabling us to work as one team to serve our customers better,” Thodey said at the time.

The establishment of a new applications and ventures subsidiary was also to contribute to the customer focus, dedicated to partnering with developers to provide apps in verticals including healthcare, education, energy and e-commerce and to compete in an NBN-world.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

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