NBN Co debuts virtual customer engagement sessions

National broadband network operator pitches latest customer ambassado program as an education service for consumers and businesses

NBN Co, operator of Australia’s national broadband network (nbn), has taken its customer ambassadors online with a new virtual offering designed to replace the face-to-face time lacking during COVID-19.

The new virtual engagement program is being pitched as a way for consumers and businesses to get the most out of the NBN, which has become an even more critical service since the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions came into effect in March.

According to the NBN’s latest usage figures for the week 11-17 May, peak download throughout increased by 15 per cent to 12.7 terabits per second compared with typical usage prior to the COVID-19 crisis. Peak download throughput was also up 10 per cent to 8.5Tbps during daytime hours.

The highest peaks to date were recorded in the week of 27 April – 3 May, where evening busy hour usage was up by 26 per cent compared to pre-COVID numbers and upstream usage was up 36 per cent.  

NBN said the engagement program online would allow it to better connect with customers, particularly those who are vulnerable, ensuring they get more out of their Internet services. There are 15-minute, one-to-one timeslots available via video conferencing or audio. The group has also created ‘nbn 101’ presentations for community groups.

Questions these representatives can answer include where nbn is available for homes and businesses, how services get delivered in a particular area, and tips for optimising nbn usage in the home.

NBN Co chief customer officer, Brad Whitcomb, said the ambassadors manning the service would typically be engaged in hundreds of physical events each year for education purposes.

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent social distancing measures, we’ve quickly moved to online engagement and tutorials,” he said. “Moving our ambassador program to an online delivery model allows us to provide nbn customers with the kind of ‘face-to-face’ time they’ve come to depend on, while also ensuring our ambassadors and the community remain safe.”

Another measure NBN Co has introduced to work around COVID-19 restrictions include SMS messaging prior to all customer appointments to confirm customer well-being, in advance of conducting home or office work.  

Last month, the company also established a $150 million financial relief and assistance fund for retail Internet providers to ensure they can connect low-income households with school-age children, support emergency and essential services, and assist SMBs facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 environment.

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