Telcos will be expected to be proactive in identifying and dealing with customers in vulnerable circumstances under a new industry Statement of Expectations released today by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
The expectations cover all key aspects of customer interactions, from selling practices and customer service to the provision of financial hardship support.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the statement sends a message to the industry that people experiencing vulnerability should be supported and not further disadvantaged.
“Many Australians will experience vulnerable circumstances in some form or another during their lifetime. The devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters such as fires and floods show just how quickly and unexpectedly people’s circumstances can change.
“It’s important that telcos have processes in place to recognise and provide appropriate customer care and service to people in these situations,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
Ms O’Loughlin said telcos can always do better when it comes to dealing with vulnerable customers.
“Last year we conducted an audit that found some telcos were not training staff regularly enough to recognise or deal appropriately with vulnerable consumers," she said.
“With the development of this statement, which was done in consultation with industry and consumer groups, telcos now have a clearer understanding of what is expected of them”.
Protecting vulnerable telco customers is one of the ACMA’s compliance priorities for 2021-22. The full Statement of Expectations is on the ACMA website.