Outgoing Telstra CEO Andy Penn has announced the telco has moved all consumer and small business call centres to Australia, after customers demanded the change.
Effective immediately, Telstra customers can expect to "speak to locals from all over Australia".
Penn said that after speaking to customers, “what we heard loud and clear was that you wanted a change in the way we answered our calls,” adding Telstra had hired an additional 2,000 people to “create a better customer experience”.
The staff, who mostly work remotely, are located in various towns and cities around Australia.
Penn cites the widespread adoption of remote working as making the change possible, saying that "on any given day, nine out of 10 of our consumer and small business service team choose to work at home."
Given that Telstra has managed and incorporated its support teams remotely for many years, the new norms of working from home in Australia have enabled Telstra to make this domestic shift, without compromising on its decentralised work practices.
People in rural communities, or people who are generally seeking roles that facilitate work from home, can find a sudden abundance of remote, Australian job listings from Telstra.
Long in the making
Telstra had accrued a reputation within Australia for having difficult, bureaucratic support procedures resulting from its offshore hiring practices.
While 2021 saw other telecommunications providers, such as iiNet, TPG and Optus record a "significant decline" in complaint volumes, Telstra experienced an increase in complaints that year, accounting for 62.1 per cent of all complaints made to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
Furthermore, in 2020 Telstra experienced major support delays due to coronavirus restrictions in the Philippines, where its call centres were based.
Filipino workers had experienced one of the world's longest lockdowns during the pandemic, leaving many contracted Telstra employees unable to get to their office to answer customer calls.
This ultimately culminated in Telstra temporarily shutting down a range of Filipino call centres, creating 1,000 new Australian job openings that year.
Telstra will continue to employ overseas workers in the Philippines and India for clients in large or international enterprises, however, after a tumultuous two years for Telstra's support departments, the bulk of their support is now entirely domestic.
Penn is scheduled to step down as CEO of Telstra in September, and seems determined to leave with a bang.
His seven-year reign saw Penn navigating Telstra through the challenges of the global pandemic, as well as a major infrastructural complication during pivotal NBN rollouts.
After a slew of reputational and operational issues, including a $50 million fine imposed by the ACCC regarding reportedly unethical sales practices with First Nations people in remote communities, Penn has sought to enact a number of positive changes for the organisation at large.
In addition to its new domestic hiring initiative, Telstra has made all payphone calls in Australia free, rolled out its 5G network to reach 75 per cent of Australians, and most recently, finalised an official acquisition of major telecommunications provider, Digicel Pacific.