ISPs need to step up customer service on the NBN

The National Broadband Network can provide ISPs with an opportunity to step up their customer service, according to an academic.

Mark Gregory, a senior lecturer at RMIT university, believes ISPs should be providing greater transparency over National Broadband Network (NBN) processes for customers.

Gregory, from the school of electrical and computer engineering at RMIT, said a greater level of customer service could be provided through secure customer portals for the NBN. For example, customers should be able to view active installations to monitor where the installation process is at.

“This would provide a better understanding of the rollout and give the public a way to participate in the rollout,” Gregory said.

“A new level of customer service transparency should be implemented. Customers should be able to see service orders online at each step of the process.”

He said like road traffic reports, ISPs should also reveal performance reports of their network across multiple segments of their network.

He said it is up to RSPs to set up portals for customers, but a large amount of the information customers would want to view would need to come live from NBN Co.

“It just simply means that NBN Co needs to make available information which can be readily gleaned across the network from devices like … the optical line terminating units on the GPON systems, and this information needs to be aggregated and made available through secure Web services that the service providers can pick up and make available to customers,” Gregory said.

Having a Web portal for customers would help to dramatically reduce the number of complaints in the telco industry, Gregory said, with the telco industry way behind other industries in regards to product tracking. For example, consumers can track where a package is during its delivery process.

The cost to set up a portal, which could possibly be passed onto consumers, could range from $1 million to several million, according to Gregory, based on portals in other industries.

NBN Co, though, told Computerworld Australia the onus of a system like this would ultimately fall on ISPs as telcos and ISPs arrange their own visits to sites to install customer equipment.

However, Gregory said it is ultimately up to NBN Co to encourage the use of portals and raise customer service to a greater level, particularly when the telco industry receives considerable customer service complaints.

“Recently I saw that NBN Co were highlighting, with some glee, that they had made their systems compatible with Telstra. I looked at that with dismay because a great majority of these complaints that we’re seeing about the telecommunication industry are actually aimed at Telstra…

“[The telco industry] needs to look at a new way and it needs to adopt a new philosophy of dealing with its customers. I think that NBN Co needs to encourage the RSPs to take that as a new way of focusing their efforts on providing better customer support.”

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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