Qantas will consolidate its three Australian call centres into one facility based in Hobart by 2016 as part of its previously announced $2 billion transformation program and associated reduction of 5000 jobs.
The consolidation, which follows a comprehensive three month review, will ultimately result in the closure of its Brisbane and Melbourne call centres.
Qantas Domestic Chief Executive Officer, Lyell Strambi, said operating three call centres in different states was simply not efficient, particularly as customers increasingly turn to online, mobile and social media to communicate with Qantas.
“We are facing some of the toughest conditions Qantas has ever seen, which means we have to look at ways to become more efficient and remain competitive,” Mr Strambi said.
“Having call centres in three different states presents a number of challenges including property costs, duplication of management and operational complexity.
“In addition, more people are using online channels to manage their travel needs. Since 2005, call volume has halved and we now see thirty times more visits from customers to qantas.com than we receive in our call centres. This is a long-term change in customer behaviour that we expect to continue,” he added.
Qantas has invested in new customer service technologies in recent years and by the end of this month, one million people will have downloaded the Qantas app for mobile devices – a channel that did not exist 12 months ago.
Mr Strambi said that consolidating three Australian call centres into one location would ensure Qantas continues to provide the level of customer service that people expect, as well as delivering significant cost savings for the business.
“We are proud that we answer calls from Australia, in Australia, but it is not efficient to have three sub-scale facilities,” he said.
“Hobart was the logical choice for us to base our Australia call centre operations because of the modern facilities, the space available within the existing site and the ongoing costs of operating there.
“The Tasmanian Government has been very supportive of our Hobart call centre and is passionate about the future of Qantas Group operations in the State.”
Mr Strambi said employees in the Brisbane and Melbourne call centres will be offered re-deployment to Hobart, including payment for relocation costs, should they wish to move interstate.
“We will commence an expression of interest process with our employees to understand how many would like to move to Hobart. Employees who choose not to move interstate and remain employed until the closure of their centre will be provided redundancy packages,” he said.
“Today’s decision in no way reflects on the contribution of our contact centre workers. We want to thank all of our employees for their hard work.
“These are decisions we make in full knowledge of the impact on our people, but also the need to protect thousands of Australian jobs across the Qantas Group by taking action to strengthen our company.”
This announcement does not impact Qantas’ New Zealand call centre operation which has operated for over 10 years and mostly handles calls from English speaking customers from outside of Australia.
- Qantas has operated its call centre in Hobart since 2000 and currently employs approximately 200 full time equivalent employees.
- The Brisbane call centre, which employs around 200 full time equivalent employees will be closed by 2016.
- The Camberwell call centre, which employs approximately 250 full time equivalent employees will be closed by mid-2015.
- Qantas will provide affected employees with transition support and redundancy packages in excess of regulatory requirements.
- Qantas will continue to use call centres in overseas markets answering calls originating from non-English speaking customers in locations like Japan and South Africa.