Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Telstra bill revamp stumbles

Any deviation from routine is deadly with Telstra. Big bureaucracies just cannot handle change without major trauma

DEALERS from one of Telstra's largest reseller networks are complaining that the telco's new customer billing platform is only successfully processing 5 per cent of customer migrations to the new system.

The other 95 per cent must be manually processed, claimed a dealer from a Telstra reseller network with more than 100 stores in its footprint.

Whenever a customer is upgraded to Telstra's new Siebel customer billing platform the system "errors out", the dealer said.

The Telstra dealer declined to have its name or the name of the dealer network published for fear Telstra would revoke its dealer licence.

"So far we have found that if a customer's details have been migrated to Siebel, chances are they cannot leave the store with their upgraded contract on their first visit," the dealer said.

"In the meantime the customer is in limbo and can't be upgraded.

"When we finally get the customer unstuck from the system and entered properly, we find that the sale hasn't been credited to the Telstra dealer," the dealer said.

It is understood that more than 9000 Telstra customers are waiting to be moved to the new system as a result of errors in the migration process.

The dealer said one customer had been without a new mobile phone service for almost two months.

Another dealer, which also declined to be named, said some of its customers had been without mobile phone services for four weeks.

"It can take three phone calls a day and sometimes up to 30 working days, for someone at Telstra to sort out the problem and get the customers unstuck from the system," the dealer said.

The high error rate is causing lengthy connection delays for customers and is also hitting dealers where it hurts most -- in their revenue.

On the previous billing system, rebates for phones, sales commissions, and airtime were all triggered for automatic payment, but dealers are saying this is not the case with the new Siebel platform.

"In most cases the correct dealer code is not applied automatically, so the dealer does not get their proper payments, nor do they get the airtime," one dealer said.

"It has left us out of pocket by about $5000 since the system came in.

"Once Telstra moves over the smaller business customers it's just going to snowball, and that's not even taking into account the airtime we are missing."

Telstra dealers receive revenue from airtime commissions.

Airtime is calculated over the life of a customer's contract.

It provides revenue based on a percentage of a customer's phone use. Telstra declined to comment on the progress of its customer migration to the new billing system or whether dealers would be compensated for loss of airtime.

"As we have reiterated a number of times this is a large, complex program and inevitably we are changing the way our front-of-house staff and dealers access the information to better serve customers," a Telstra spokesperson said.

"This necessitates changes in processes and behaviour and these changes take some time to become routine, however we can assure you that our program is on track."

Telstra's migration to the new customer billing platform forms a major part of chief executive Sol Trujillo's $12 billion transformation project, which is aimed at reducing complexity and cost.

The customer billing system project has already missed its self-imposed June 30 deadline.


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