Keep customers happy, or you’re out: Singtel-Optus CEO

The customer comes first: the CEO of Singtel-Optus has told staff to keep customers happy, or risk losing their jobs.
By: | November 1, 2018


Allen Lew, CEO of Singtel Optus, reportedly told employees, “If you make customers unhappy, you will be sacked.”

The CEO of an Australian-based telco has issued an ultimatum to the company’s more than 8,000 staff – keep customers happy, or be shown the exit door.

Allen Lew, CEO of Singtel Optus, says he also expects employees to report incompetent colleagues, or risk being fired themselves.

Lew was speaking to staff in person at two of the most recent weekly “TGIF” meetings at the company’s Macquarie Park campus in Sydney. His remarks were also live-streamed to similar meetings in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth.

He was reportedly visibly upset during the sessions as he discussed Optus’ performance in a recent complaints report by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

“The customer is why we exist. If you make customers unhappy, you will be sacked,” he apparently told employees.

Over 40,000 issues were logged by Optus customers over the last year including through the telco’s well-publicised struggles to televise the Football World Cup in July. Optus customers complained over “constant drop-outs and no-shows”, which caused a 35% surge in complaints.

“Allen expects every Optus employee to be clear that we are all answerable to our customers, and that we are all responsible for delivering exceptional customer experience, not just those interacting with customers through stores and call centres,” Optus vice-president of regulatory and public affairs Andrew Sheridan said.

However, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has criticised Mr Lew for his unreasonable firing threats. CWU national president Shane Murphy has deemed his words both “absurd” and “concerning”.

“To threaten the workers who are simply trying to do their jobs is outrageous,” Murphy said.

“These workers are on the frontline, dealing everyday with customers irate over their billing issues and the chronic under-investment in the Optus network.”

Murphy stressed that more understanding is needed as employees are also frustrated with the company, and that they are doing their best under demanding circumstances.

“Perhaps if Allen Lew focused more on ensuring Optus is actually delivering the service customers are paying for rather than sacking chunks of the workforce every few months, the telco might be doing a little better,” he added.