Telstra Pledges to Bring Call Centres Back to Australia Within 18 Months

January 30, 2021 Updated: January 30, 2021

Telecommunications giant Telstra has pledged to bring its overseas call centres back to Australia within the next 18 months.

A drop in customer call volume, and the prevalence of employees working from home, has allowed the country’s biggest telco to make the call.

“We have reduced the volume of calls by eliminating a lot of the annoyances that people would have had,” Telstra CEO Andy Penn told attendees during a speech at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) on Thursday.

“We are helping people get more out of the technology rather than reporting a fault,” he said. Telstra currently employs thousands of call centre operators overseas, Penn told 3AW radio.

Epoch Times Photo
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn takes part in a panel discussion at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on Feb. 27, 2019. (Pau Barrena/AFP via Getty Images)

Customer call volume has dropped from 50 million in 2016 to 15 million in 2020.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Telstra has also adopted a “location agnostic” philosophy, allowing more workers to stay at home.

Around 80 percent of Telstra’s Australian workforce is based at home.

Penn said the workplace will “never return to normal” and pushed businesses and governments to rethink how they approach hiring and the office workplace.

“The bottom line is competition for talent is going to shift to the new era of remote and hybrid work because where an employee lives is no longer a limitation,” he said.

“That raises a whole raft of questions about infrastructure and important policy decisions for government,” he added.

“Questions about our CBDs, and whether they will now become more about where people come to be entertained, watch sport, eat, drink and socialise, where organisations convene their people to collaborate.”

A McKinsey & Company report in May estimated that digital adoption globally “vaulted five years forward” in the space of eight weeks in response to pandemic lockdowns.

A Mastercard survey of 806 Australian businesses confirmed this trend finding digital adoption locally was swift.

The survey found 52 percent of businesses accelerated their shift to e-commerce sales during the pandemic, while 44 percent were able to make the change within three days of exploring the option.

“Australian businesses have faced unprecedented challenges amid COVID-19 but have shown fierce agility and resilience, with many able to migrate operations quickly and effectively to focus on digital opportunities,” Richard Wormald, Division President of Mastercard’s Australasia division said.

“Businesses have an incredible opportunity to improve the shopper experience online, and industry leaders have a part to play in helping business operators develop that expertise online, using digital payment technologies,” he added.