Optus is taking major steps to rebuild capacity for customer care, retraining 1500 existing Australian staff while setting up call centre “microsites” in the Philippines to get operations there back online.
The staff retraining effort was revealed by the telco’s regulatory and public affairs vice president Andrew Sheridan on Thursday morning.
”Following lockdown requirements in India and Philippines, nearly 1500 Optus employees, primarily from the retail part of our business, have been retrained to provide service support for customers,” Sheridan said in a social media post.
Sheridan also said the telco had “onboarded an additional 400 employees, who have now also been trained to provide service support” - out of around 500 it is adding to its Australia-based customer care operations.
However, iTnews can also reveal Optus’ efforts to restart customer care operations in the Philippines and India, countries where lockdown restrictions remain in place and have recently been extended.
In the Philippines, Optus - through its four contract partners - is setting up call centre “microsites” that are within walking distance of where staff live.
These microsites meet restrictions by not requiring staff to leave a certain area, and are also set up to meet social distancing and sanitary regulations.
In addition, employees that are not within walking distance of a microsite or who don’t want to live at home during the shutdown - for example, if they have elderly relatives living with them - are still able to attend larger call centres and stay in accommodation organised nearby.
Restarting operations in India is understood to be more challenging, owing to restrictions on what types of work people can undertake from home.
However, Optus has started to set up some of its India-based staff to provide support for other locations who are taking service calls.
Sheridan told iTnews that Optus is prioritising the safety of people “in everything we do”.
“This includes the health of our customers, employees, contractors, and those colleagues that work for our call centre suppliers overseas,” he said.
“We are in complete alignment with our partners, suppliers and staff that adhering to government regulations is critically important, and have been strict in our own implementation of social distancing.
“Optus partners with four suppliers in the Philippines, a strategy we use to ensure best practice and innovation in workforce management.
“Each of our partners has provided us with their protocols for ensuring the safety of workers in the current scenario.”
Optus - like other telcos - has limited the type of inquiries its call centres are fielding and has built capability into apps and other self-service channels to pick up some of the load.
However, it - like other telcos - is fast re-establishing call and message-handling capabilities, which is likely to reduce wait times experienced by customers during this period.