A recently released report from Australia’s Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman highlights the risks of companies putting all (or most) of their customer service eggs into an overseas basket.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) assists consumers and small businesses in Australia with unresolved complaints about their phone or internet service. All eligible carriage service providers must join what’s called the TIO Scheme, which helps to improve providers’ service and reduce the number of complaints they receive through various best-practice guidelines – and makes it easier for the TIO to chase up issues. You can learn more about the TIO Scheme here.
The TIO’s Annual Report 2019-20 was released last week. It notes complaints relating to phone and internet services decreased 4 per cent in the last financial year. During the period, residential consumers and small businesses made 127,151 complaints to the Ombudsman.
The reduction was a bit of good news, but a somewhat disturbing situation was revealed on page 42 of the report – a sharp increase in complaints about being unable to contact a provider. The report notes the number of complaints increased by nearly 1,500 per cent on the previous year. The situation was largely due to the shutdown of overseas call centres as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Being unable to contact providers emerged as an issue in landline, multiple and mobile service type complaints during this period but did not make it into the list of top 10 issues for these service types,” notes the report.
That’s a little comforting – unless you were one of the unlucky ones affected.
You can read the full TIO Annual Report 2019-20 here.
Whether its telecommunications or another type of service or product, overseas call centres have been a bit of a pet peeve for many Australians; often due to language issues. When you can’t understand the person at the other end of the line, or they can’t understand you, this results in a negative customer service experience. Still, we all seem to muddle along and put up with it.
But COVID-19 threw a new spanner in the works at a time when an increasing number of Australians were relying on communications other than face-to-face for obvious reasons. Many still are today while the pandemic rages on outside our shores and we seek to keep it from doing the same here.
So, the next time you’re shopping around for a telecommunications provider perhaps Australia-based customer care should be an item on your wish- list; because you just never know what might be around the corner. Of course, part of your research should include determining if a provider offering Australia-based support can continue to operate in a local lockdown-type situation.