Aussie telcos don't do e-mail

Aussie telcos don't do e-mail

Summary: Less than one in five Australian telcos know of or reply to e-mails sent to them by potential customers, according to a study commissioned by software vendor Oracle. The study -- carried out by analyst firm International Data Corp -- targeted a number of telecommunications companies across the Asia-Pacific region, testing how effective each was at managing and utilising customer data.

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Less than one in five Australian telcos know of or reply to e-mails sent to them by potential customers, according to a study commissioned by software vendor Oracle.

The study -- carried out by analyst firm International Data Corp -- targeted a number of telecommunications companies across the Asia-Pacific region, testing how effective each was at managing and utilising customer data.

Oracle's regional vice president for communications, media and utilities, Ash Khalek, said the study saw researchers posing as potential customers contact telcos and enquire about their services.

"Before our agency rang the telcos to do the actual survey, three days beforehand they sent an e-mail asking for information about the services," Khalek told ZDNet Australia from his Singapore office.

"We measured if they sent a response to the e-mail and if when we rang, they knew that we'd e-mailed before."

"The percentages were overwhelmingly pretty low. Sub 20 percent actually acknowledged or knew of the e-mail," he added.

According to Khalek, the poor response was indicative of a wider trend where local telcos are not able to easily integrate data from the various channels customers use to communicate with them.

"How fantastic would it be, if after you had gone into an Optus dealer, your wife rang the call centre for some other reason, and the call centre operator knew that you were linked to your wife, and secondly that you had been to the dealer," he said.

"There's a whole lot of different conversations that a call centre operator can have with a customer if they had this sort of information."

He said many other telcos across the Asia-Pacific region had similarly poor communications skills to those in Australia.

Personalisation the key
Local telcos also proved poor at keeping extended profiles of their customers' likes and dislikes.

"The information that the Australian telcos hold is typically of a basic nature," said Khalek.

"So they know what your address is, they know what services you have, they know your usage and they know the times that you've used it."

"What they don't necessarily know is the extended profile."

"What are your personal interests? Do you like cricket? Do you like tennis? Do you travel a lot? When you do travel, do you like dining?"

"For example, if you're offering a cricket service, wouldn't it be nice to know which of your subscribers is actually interested in cricket?" said Khalek.

Mobile carrier Hutchison recently launched a large promotional effort aimed at getting users of its third-generation (3G) handsets to watch cricket over its network.

"For the operators to get the maximum upsell out of that and the maximum takeup, they need to know this extended profile," said Khalek. "Because if you don't have that information, what you end up doing is a complete blast."

Getting the basics right
There was some good news for Australian telcos though.

"One of the first things which came out is that the majority of the Australian telcos are able to provide a single customer identity across multiple products," said Khalek.

"In some of the other countries where we did this, if you had a wireless service, and a fixed line service and a broadband service, typically the telcos have a different call centre for each of those three services," he said.

"If you called any one call centre, they wouldn't know that you had an account with them for either of the other two services."

Khalek said most Australian operators were aware of the need to start recording extended customer profiles.

"It's not that operators don't want to do it, it comes down to from an IT point of view, there are some barriers that you come across to doing this," he said.

"One of the first barriers is that in most telcos, billing is the center of customer information. But a billing engine is designed to hold the customer's name, their address and the usage information."

"It's not designed to to hold their personal preferences."

Khalek said a lot of telcos had started migrating customer data out of their billing engines and into customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

The executive pointed to Telstra's ongoing consolidation of operational and business support systems as one example of this trend.

"If I look at what is in the news about the various operators in Australia, most of them have made the mental shift, they're now making the systems shift," he said.

The most advanced telcos in the region, according to the study, are to be found in Japan and Korea.

Topics: Telcos, Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Oracle, Optus, Telstra

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  • "extended profiles" = privacy invasion

    I do not want my Telco, or any other business provider to know any more about me than what services I use from them and when I use them. That's enough. There are already enough advertising channels to ram new products down my throat - I don't need to be asked if I'd like to "super size" my McTelstra meal everytime I call to ask a question about billing. Then again it's not surprising that a database company is telling all and sundry that they need to store more information in their databases.
    anonymous