10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

CMO, group executive of consumer and SMB and consumer and digital products leaders share their learnings on managing transformation and change and what it means for CX


6. Recognise the need for resilience

By their very nature, major transformation programs are not easy. Therefore, having a strong sense of resilience is critical, according to Telstra’s executives.

Firstly, that means driven transformation from top-down and as a core business priority, Hutton said. “A side project will never get done, or you won’t have the courage to be as transformative as you need to be. So an all-in mindset is important,” she said.  

Equally, there are days when you don’t know if you can do it, Hutton said. “My advice is hold the course, keep the faith. Having that unwavering commitment to those experience outcomes you will deliver are important for your customers. Make sure you finish the job,” she said.  

“What we are doing will fundamentally change the experience we deliver to customer and will deliver the experience for our frontline teams. Don’t lose sight of the goals and hold firm to those transformational outcomes.”

7. Don’t be afraid to rethink along the way

While it’s clear having a North Star and overarching promise is key to transformation, having the ability to changing things up along the way is nevertheless vital.

“Some things you have in place at the start aren’t things you need at the end,” Hutton said. “You might not get enough momentum, build quickly enough or find yourself responsive enough for changing market conditions.

“We are in a very competitive environment and we have had to flex some requirements along the way. That requires a very adaptive mindset and making sure you pivot when you need to, all while never losing sight of the end outcomes.”

8. See the full brand picture

As part of the T22 change, Telstra has invested in Salesforce Marketing Cloud and CRM platforms to drive a more personalised approach to engagement. This is vital to getting the full picture of that customer’s experience across the organisation, Nicholas said.

“Having that centralised decisioning engine, data source has been really key. We’re well down the path – we’re not perfect – but it has been big part of this transformation,” he said.  

“If customer walks in store or logs in online, this allows us to see all of their history, anything they have done, issues they may have had, the agents involved. If you have had an NBN outage in your area, it’s not the right time to be selling you something. So being able to supress marketing and service messaging or engage in such messaging depending on customer behaviour or what they might eb experiencing, is hugely important.”

By way of example, Telstra recently used first-party data to drive a personalisation communications activity targeting customers in 5G areas benefitting from the upgraded network technology with value-based upgrade offers. Equally, it’s using its swathes of data to understand more vulnerable sections of the community and ensuring offers and messaging is appropriate to their needs and circumstances.

9. Think about the customer’s wider experience ecosystem

For Nicholas, managing increasing customer expectations has also meant looking beyond category and to every experience a customer may be provided with.

“Our real competition isn’t so much what competitors are doing, but about what is happening more broadly in society – food, travel experiences. We have to benchmark ourselves against these best experiences,” he said. “Those experiences are driving brand perceptions more than ever before and it’s an important point to understand.”

10. Know the role of the CMO is vital in connecting the experience dots

As a modern CMO, Nicholas said he’s worked with many parts of the Telstra business, from the networks team on rollout of 5G to partnering with Infraco on how to manage the structural separation of the business, consumer and SMB trading challenges.

This is a key part of how the marketing leadership role has evolved and plays a key role in transforming customer experiences, he said.

“You have to be in partnership with lots of different people and have great relationships across the organisation, and be open to collaborating, taking feedback and trying to make things better,” Nicholas said.  

“The thing I rile against slightly is comments around why more CMOs aren’t CEO, or controlling the customer, or fighting in the boardroom –owning, fighting and battling are aggressive words and I don’t see the workplace like that, or the job like that. I don’t own the customer at Telstra – I’m one of 10,000 trying to make it better for customers.

“As well as striving for the growth of the business, our role is to deliver for the community, customers and shareholders.”

Hear more: Jeremy Nicholas on Conversations over a Cuppa with CMO

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