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
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
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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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.