Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Telstra tortoise is now even slower

Telstra workers cry foul over Siebel

TELSTRA's troubled customer management platform Siebel is causing call centre staff to miss their sales targets and union officials are concerned that this could force hundreds of jobs offshore. Call centre workers are also under increasing stress from angry customers, who are annoyed because of delays with the new system.

Some of the problems with the system include the inability to process orders quickly.

The latest call centre problems emerged in a survey of about 200 Telstra call centre workers conducted by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), after a spate of complaints that Siebel was hampering their work.

The workers blame the errors and delays on insufficient training in using the new system, introduced about three months ago, and having to repeatedly correct order and customer information.

The CPSU said over 90 per cent of respondents blamed errors with the new Siebel platform for increasing call follow-up time and increased length of average handling time for calls.

One Queensland call centre manager told the CPSU that since Siebel was switched on quality of service had dropped from 70 to 10 per cent, equating to an extra 400 customers waiting in the queue at the call centre.

Because some workers have spent extra time fixing errors in the new system they have missed their sales targets, the CPSU said, and as a result their pay has dropped by 20 to 30 per cent. The affected workers are on Australian Workplace Agreements.

The union also said there had been a drop in performance across most customer-sales call centres because of Siebel, and claimed that Telstra had threatened workers in Townsville, Gold Coast and Perth that their facilities would be offshored if this didn’t improve. If that came to fruition, 500 jobs could be sent overseas.

"It’s a threat (Telstra) made that unless the performance of the centre improves the work will be offshored," said CPSU national president Louise Persse. "They’re dealing with angry and sometimes aggressive customers because customers are facing long queues to get through to someone.

"If they create an order for particular work to be done, but there are errors with those orders, that makes them re-work the order.

"People are being put on performance management and their pay is being threatened and they’re not able to meet their targets because the system is problematic," Ms Persse said.

The CPSU has written to government-body ComCare seeking an investigation into the negative occupational health and safety impacts of the new IT system.

The telco’s call centre practices came under the spotlight last year when ABC’s Four Corners reported on a Telstra call centre worker committing suicide because she was allegedly under severe stress from her job.