HUNTER Water has admitted it made the wrong decision in outsourcing its customer call centre, and is bringing the service back to Newcastle.
Three years ago in 2011, the water provider sent its customer service operations out of house – joining the outsourcing bonanza that has involved many blue-chip companies, from Qantas to Telstra, sending thousands of call centre jobs overseas in recent years.
But now Hunter Water is bucking the trend, admitting its mistake and bringing the 13 jobs back to its Honeysuckle headquarters from December.
Acting chief customer services officer Jeremy Bath said outsourcing ‘‘was a decision that ultimately didn’t deliver the customer benefits we expected it would’’ and ‘‘definitely had an impact’’ on customer service.
‘‘Having now recognised the limited success of the move, we are moving quickly to correct it,’’ he said.
“Our customers have an expectation that when they call with a problem, it will be resolved then and there on the phone.
‘‘That is not always going to be possible but we can certainly make it more likely by having the Hunter Water call centre embedded with our in-house experts.’’
It’s a move that goes against the prevailing corporate wisdom; in August, Telstra chief executive David Thodey predicted call centre jobs in a range of sectors ‘‘will not exist in five years’’.
‘‘More and more, you’ll use an application on your phone and you’ll use the web to interact with us so the future of call centre jobs is less in the future,’’ Mr Thodey said.
Acknowledging Mr Thodey’s comments, Mr Bath admitted Hunter Water was ‘‘proudly going against the trend’’, “given the number of recent call centre redundancies, overseas outsourcing, and claims by the business community that call centre jobs won’t exist in five years’’.
In August, Andy Lark, the former marketing chief at Commonwealth Bank, criticised companies that ‘‘put their brands in the hands of third parties’’ at the expense of product reputation.