Telecom name change site opens the floodgates

Visitors to the web page telecom.co.nz/sparkshould Telecom set up to take feedback on its upcoming name change to Spark has seen customers vent about everything from slow internet connections to ultrafast broadband rollout progress and security breaches involving the Yahoo email service.

Comments about the new name were largely negative, with three visitors branding it silly and another saying the branding was rubbish. “Instead of spending $20 million on re-branding, changing all advertisements and billboards, this money should be put towards investment for customers,” one comment read.

“First of all you change the company symbol to a gloomy meaningless scribble, removing the happy yellow colour and sense of strong structure in the old symbol. Now you are changing the name to something without meaning or significance to your customers,” said another.

In his reply to the latter comment, COO Jason Paris acknowledged some customers weren’t keen on a name change and “that we have more important things to focus on than that”.

“The reality is that this name change is the result of a business strategy – not a name change for the sake of it. Telecom is a far different organisation today than it was when the Telecom brand launched in 1987. Telecom is linked with home phones and now we are about mobility, data, digital services, apps and entertainment.”

Paris earlier told Stoppress the $20 million price tag some had estimated it would spend on the rebrand was about right.

Paris has answered several comments, with social media specialist Sam Durbin contracted to reply to the feedback. Telecom says it had more than 26,000 visits to the site in the first week, with 480 submissions.

“It’s no surprise that an investment in an entirely new name for a well-known New Zealand company, there has been a lot of mixed response to what we’re doing with Spark and our customers have been pretty forthcoming with their reactions to the news,” says spokesperson Holly Wilkinson.

“Spark Should has been set up specifically to encourage Kiwis to tell us what’s on their mind and offer them an opportunity to influence the changes we are making as a business. As far as we’re concerned all feedback has got to be a good thing, it shows people care about and have a stake in the future business we are building for them.”

Telecom is developing a formal process to manage the submissions and will “pump this information to the proper channels … for action”, Wilkinson says.

“Over time we intend for Spark Should to become a permanent, more robust feedback programme enabling our customers to have a direct mainline into Spark.”

Among the other requests in visitor comments were extension of 4G coverage, more data with broadband plans, spending the rebrand money on speeding up the broadband rollout, offering carryover minutes and data, more flexible mobile plans and lifting data caps.

Telecom said the feedback raised “questions and misconceptions” about its relationship with Chorus.

In one response, Durbin said, “We wish we could roll out ultra-fast internet to everyone, but we just aren’t in a position to do that, we are another voice in the system. The government is providing $1.5 billion dollars to roll out fibre to 75% of NZ by 2019, and Chorus and other local fibre providers are working to dig the holes and lay the cables and all that kind of thing. We always advocate to them on behalf of our customers, but you can help out if you want by approaching them directly.”

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