Products, solutions and service work together at Telstra

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It’s been three months since I started working at Telstra as Vice President of Customer Solutions, but it feels more like three years – in a good way. My team and I have already accomplished so much, and I’ve learned a lot from across the business.

Being the “new kid on the block” isn’t always easy, but at Telstra it has been. In my first couple of weeks, I had a lot of questions, often not knowing who to go to for the right answer or who might be able to help me. Obviously, that’s common for anybody starting a new role, but everyone has been so approachable and helpful whenever I've needed something. In my experience, that’s been uncommon. There's such an open culture at Telstra where everybody has the mindset of being one team, without an attitude of “my priority is more important than your priority.”

That mindset is the same one we must have when it comes to our customer relationships and the solutions that we provide to them. No priority is more important than what the customer says they need – the customer must come first, always. 

Prior to working in telecommunications, my background was predominantly in retail. I’ve always been customer-facing and service-oriented, continuously trying to think about the next step: “How can I make sure the customer has the best experience possible so we can build loyalty?” or “How do I make sure inventory doesn't sit in a back room, but goes straight to the shelf and then into a customer's cart?”

It's easy to tie that to telecommunications where our “inventory” is bandwidth. People need bandwidth to work remotely, get on their favorite website, communicate on social media, or connect with family and friends, and that need has grown exponentially. Consequently, the companies that provide those services (Telstra included) have not only needed to increase bandwidth on their networks, but also provide more services and expertise on how to scale those networks to ensure everyone gets what they need when they need it. That astronomical growth is the biggest change I've seen from a technology perspective.

The complexity in the IT environment today is staggering. Network professionals must manage hundreds of applications, hundreds of different environments, thousands of users, and multiple levels of network access.

There are so many data points for IT teams to juggle that we're seeing a push further up the technology stack for what companies like Telstra need to provide to our customers: an overall excellent user experience for our customers as well as our customers’ customers.

We have to pivot from being just “network experts” to being the network experts plus the experience experts. Our teams do that really well today; for example, financial services industry (FSI), which is an area where we've honed our expertise from a technical perspective. But my goal, and my challenge, is to continue accelerating a shift from a product focus to a “product plus solutions plus service” focus, moving beyond just selling a product.

Changing a perception is never easy, but it’s necessary. We're not just about connectivity (e.g., internet services, Ethernet private lines, or IP transit), we're a full-service network provider. We can provide almost anything a business may need, including adaptive networking, cloud services, security services, voice services and customer experience platforms, and even teams to manage all that for them.

The best way I feel we can help customers uncover or enable their full potential is working with them to view their business under a microscope. Our teams of network and service specialists can look at every layer of an IT organization and understand the challenges or vulnerabilities, and they can be partners in addressing them at every step of the way so that businesses don't have to do it alone – and potentially fall behind their competitors.

Our industry has always had its fair share of early adopters, forward thinkers who accelerated their business by moving forward in areas that were not completely proven yet. For example, look at the innovators who were willing to take the risk and start moving to the cloud, even when things were not perfect. Now, using the cloud has become standard practice for a ton of businesses.

Those risk-takers have created opportunities for service providers like Telstra. The next step is building credibility and trust with those customer segments that are lagging behind, helping them understand they don't have anything to worry about if they move into new environments. We can help guide them as an advisor they can trust with their network. 

We need to anticipate our customers’ needs. If a customer says, “I need to go ‘here to here’ on this route” then that's one type of conversation. But then a follow-up conversation must be, “What's keeping you up at night?” or “What’s the biggest challenge you're facing that you don't know how to solve?

We know how to help transform a business and an organization, even if people haven’t historically thought of us for that. It’s the constant evolution of our company and our industry: always trying, always adapting and learning and getting better each time.

It's not just about networks. It's the human touch, too, and I’m looking forward to putting that human touch on our approach to working with our customers.