Telstra Move To Robot Voices, 2000 Jobs To Go, Deal With JB Hi Fi Tipped
Struggling to generate profits in the NBN broadband market while also being stripped of mobile sales by the likes of JB Hi Fi in the smartphone market, Telstra is set to slash an additional 2,000 people in an effort to bolster their bottom line.
The big Telco also plan to slash their customer service personnel replacing them with robotic voices while hinting that a “margin” deal had been struck with retail partners.
Telstra chief financial officer Vicky Brady has confirmed that by the end of this year2000 of the telco’s staff will be sacked as Chief executive Andy Penn who is set to take home between $4.5M and $5 million dollars and Brady who also takes home a hefty multimillion dollar salary move to slash jobs in the interest of shareholder returns.
The business has already sacked between 8,000 to 9,000 jobs as part of a major restructure of the carrier who is facing new competition from archrivals Optus and Vodafone TPG and is struggling to get a return from his expensive 5G roll out with customers paying the same price for 5G as they did for 4G.
“By June, we expect to be more than 90 per cent through our T22 target to reduce our direct workforce by 8000 net roles, and to have completed that by the end of the calendar year,” Ms Brady told the Macquarie Australia Conference.
The job cuts are despite pleas from the communications union earlier this year for Telstra to reconsider this plan, and follow the telco lifting its “pause” on job cuts in February, after it halted redundancies at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
Brady said Telstra has retrenched 6000 staff across its direct workforce and a further 1600 across its indirect workforce already.
The plan also includes reducing the number of calls to Telstra’s call centres through digitisation such as enhancing its chatbot “Codi”, which has been branded a “virtual moron-idiot”, “a complete and utter waste of my time”, and “stupid” by users, following its launch four years ago.
But last week Telstra announced tweaks to Codi, saying it had become more sophisticated, while declaring that artificial intelligence should not be the “be-all, end-all” for customers, who are now demanding more human interactions.
“Our aspiration has been to reduce the number of calls to our call centres by two-thirds by FY22,” Ms Brady said.
“With the acceleration to digital, we are already at this run rate more than a year before the end of the strategy. That means that over time, we will need smaller call centres for these customers and more will work from home.”
Brady claims that the management team at Telstra has “aspirations” to deliver “mid to high single digit” growth in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation next financial year.
This follows Telstra’s underlying EBITDA falling 14.2 per cent to $3.3bn in the six months to December 31 last year.
Brady admitted that Telstra earnings had been “challenged”, citing COVID-19 and “ongoing NBN headwinds”,
Currently Telstra is trying to renegotiate ‘attach’ terms with JB Hi Fi by slashing the amount they pay the big retailer.
Brady hinted that a deal has already been cut claiming “Product margin improvement is also imminent, and already occurring in mobile”.
“We see clear positive indicators of an improved financial trajectory, which we expect will return us to underlying EBITDA growth in FY22 and put us on the path to achieving our FY23 financial ambitions.”