Andy Lark slams Telstra, warns marketers to be careful when outsourcing their brands

Andy LarkThe former marketing chief at Commonwealth Bank has warned companies against the dangers of outsourcing after complaining of being harassed by a firm claiming they were working on behalf of Telstra.

Andy Lark, now a marketing consultant after leaving CommBank last year, took a swing at Telstra on his blog, The Daily Lark.

He wrote: “Telstra’s a brand I’ve tried to like. Some great marketing, a strong agency, good people — all of that persuaded me to give them a go. Terrible experiences in mobile and broadband left me disappointed. The company that felt it necessary to call me constantly so see if I was happy, hasn’t bothered to call once since I switched to Vodafone.

“And today we’ve been harassed no less than six times from a company called Telechoice. Now when we ask them who there company is, they just hang-up. But call they do. They represent Telstra apparently.”

He also said Telstra had failed to respond to his tweets to the company, which he described as another example of how not to treat customers.

“Even if only to acknowledge customers and to say ‘we have heard you’, brands need to respond within a 20 minute to 30 minute window,” he said.

But Telstra, in a statement issued late today, said it has no agreement with Telechoice.

“We are looking into Mr Lark’s claims, however Telechoice is a wholesale customer and do not act on our behalf nor have any relationship with our retail customer base,” a spokesman said.

He added that Telstra has since responded to Lark’s contact via Twitter and apologised for missing his tweets on Saturday.

“This is highly unusual and we are investigating what happened here,” the spokesman said.

Lark was using the Telstra example to illustrate in the blog that brand owners need to control their customer experience or face the consequences of a damaged reputation.

“Companies do it all the time. They put their brands in the hands of third parties who care less about your brand and only about transactions at any cost,” he wrote.

“This is fine in a world where customer experience was masked by word of mouth or buried in the back of newspapers. In this new world, transparency exposes brand’s truths. As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. The difference now is that it is the customers administering the sunlight.”

Lark succeeded Telstra’s outgoing head of marketing Mark Buckman as CommBank chief marketing officer in 2011.

He cited an example of where he was “harassed” six times in quick succession by a company who said they were calling on behalf of Telstra, despite requests not to call again.

While not suggesting companies should stop outsourcing altogether, the third party must have clear guidelines from the brand they are representing about how to treat customers.

“Brand owners need to take charge of customer experience, starting with the sales process,” Lark said. “And they need to get ruthless about realising the expectations of their leadership for nothing other than stellar customer service.”


Telstra had not responded to Mumbrella’s request for comment at the time of publication.

Steve Jones



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