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We’re Thinking Like a Start-up to Help Our Customers

Retired Employee RohanGaneson
Retired Employee
5 8 13.3K

Rohan Ganeson banner.png


It was the late 90s when I jumped straight in to my first start-up role. Fresh out of university, I joined a small tech start-up that was revolutionising high-speed networks. I had no idea what I was doing but I distinctly remember the mantra of that fledgling business: disrupt, innovate and bring something new to the marketplace. Today, I still believe those are words to live by, even when you are a company the size of Optus.


Entrepreneurs and start-ups are passionate about what they do and they’re willing to challenge the status quo and move with great speed, agility and momentum to get things done. This attitude means they take risks when necessary, always stay one step ahead of the game and if they fail, they quickly learn from their mistakes. At Optus, we’ve been cultivating this mentality recently. It’s why we’re branching out into new markets, like entertainment and sports to bring you more than just a telecommunication service. In the first half of this year alone, we’ve already launched Optus Sport  (home to the Premier League), our music-streaming service and innovation hub Yes Labs. These ventures are our way of proving our commitment to investing in new ideas to benefit our customers.


Thinking like a start-up also means we are obsessed with finding the next big thing in technology that could make a big difference to our business and to you. I attended this year’s Mobile World Congress and found it so interesting to see that smartphones were essentially ‘old’ news and this year’s focus was demonstrably on virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).


These huge transformations in the digital sphere mean we must be able to act fast when it comes to delivering you the latest technological innovations as soon as they take off. As an example, that’s why we’re transforming our retail stores to make them more immersive. Stores don’t need to be purely places to buy any more; walking into an Optus shop should be an experience and give you an opportunity to explore new things. That’s also why we asked children to design our ‘kids’ section of the newly renovated store in Warringah Mall, so we could make it much more engaging for the local community.


Businesses should always be open to trying new things and challenging the norm, no matter how large or small they are. Of course, it can be difficult for a company of our size to do this sometimes but just thinking like a start-up, in terms of disrupting, innovating and bringing something new to the marketplace, will hopefully allow us to give you the service you deserve, if not more.


If you have any questions, I'd love to hear them - just ask them in the comments section below.

New Contributor murdo
New Contributor

I would like to share my resent experience with Optus to say it was rubbish would be an understatement.


Darren in Adelaide sales rude, sarcastic, unhelpful basically would be better employed elsewhere. Alex his team leader did not return call or action my concerns, tried to re-contract order cancelled without explanation, left on phone for three hours. 


Asked politely to be put through to customer solutions no joy, asked Alex team leader Adelaide to review conversations no call back even after he assured me a return call no surprise.


Looking to move to Vodaphone better deal, more data. Interesting that Optus spends thousands trying to recruit new customers yet dos nothing to keep old customers. 




Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Really sorry to hear about your experience murdo Smiley Sad We can certainly feed this back. Just to clarify was this for a Mobile order? Are you able to PM through your details along with your date of birth so we can take a look? 

Visitor Simon_iR

Rohan, good to hear you're taking your experience of start-up culture and bringing it to the big end of town.


As someone heavily involved in a start-up myself, the speed of innovation and development, coupled with the risks, inevitable mistakes, and invaluable lessons creates what is by far the most amazing and engaging workplace experience I've had.


You mentioned that you've been cultivating this mentality by branching out into new markets.  This, of course, is critical to the success of any business in the tech/communications space as the rapid evolution of technology sees new opportunities in existing markets gain traction at the same time as brand new markets are opening up.  


So I wonder: The start-up mentality is necessary for startups where the work never stops and major milestones can be reached day after day. Startups breed a culture of long hours and lower pay, contrasted with passionate people who are immersed in the growth of their business and are truly committed to its success. Can this type of culture really be a part of a large, well established corporation such as Optus?


The big question I suppose is - does thinking like a start-up translate to working like a start-up? 

Retired Employee RohanGaneson
Retired Employee

@Simon_iR In short, no. Firstly, we have to create an environment where people are free to try new things. We are committed to cultivating an atmosphere at work where great ideas are nurtured, funding is provided and we can identify and connect talent so that brilliant thoughts and ideas are encouraged to grow and be tested with our customers. We’re already seeing some great results having employed these approaches internally.


Of course, it can be hard to truly live and breathe the start-up culture when you’re a company the size of Optus but there are many examples of large organisations that we work with who continue to be innovative and deliver ground-breaking results despite their size. They inspire us to believe that it is definitely possible and reaffirm our commitment to this approach.


Visitor Pat_IPC

Bring something new is good. Bring something that will benefit your customers is even better.

Contributor wallet72

There's more to being a startup, or even a successful business, than being innovative. All the things that Opus have done - Premier league, strreaming services, perks - are great, but they do not compensate for poor service and poor customer experience.

The congestion issues that are not addressed leave me and others like me ready to leave Optus. I mean the basic step of not signing up new customers to congested services should be the first thing that gets done. 

Even taking proactive action to compensate customers that are suffering from congestion. You should know where the congestion is (if you don't fire you NOC staff) and you should be rebating or discounting customers in those areas. 

A loyalty or reward program for customers that have been with Optus for a long time would be great. As it stands now, it seems like once a contract is signed then Optus really doesn't care about the customer.


This is a competitive market, and with very competitive products entering the market from other providers, I would think Optus would be doing a bit more to make customers into advocates instead of disgruntled ex customers.

Occasional Contributor robertbruce
Occasional Contributor

gee I wish i could afford the drugs your on Rohan. You've dressed your posts so beautifully but the plain ugleness of it is it is just churn...

so just admit it eh! You are just going to churn us back to the phone-box down the street, that's where you customer service has sent is so much easier using the phone box. No mucking about with a not authorised account, nor trying to get the store to fix it, nor the website, the yc is hopeless, and ringing 555 for help only to be text'd back to the website is the funniest joke yet...


Thing is mate, Optus sleaze and service (what service) fail the pub test so comprehensivly that your just a giggle from this side too!





New Contributor M2
New Contributor

Certainly distruption is a key to your current customer service model. After leaving Optus about 7 years ago due to its poor service I was drawn back by the sales offering hoping for a new experience but realise the error of my ways upon signing up. You still don't have bacics right. Not one service was set up right: mobile, internet or fetch TV. Plus I have been overcharge for each within the first months of signing up. I definitely feel immersed in Optus experience. I've spent over 6 hours either online on or the phone just trying to get you to honor your sales committments and get connected.


Baby step Rohan get the basics right don't look for new challenges when ones you face clearly have the better of you.


I was only on the site waiting for a chat session for service support but now I've been disconnected as I'd been awaiting too long....



About the Author
Hi I’m Rohan, Managing Director of Customer at Optus. I’m responsible for leading customer acquisition, customer service and customer experience across digital, retail, field and contact centre operation, serving over nine million consumers. I originally joined Optus as the MD of Small to Medium Business but moved into the MD of Customer role in April 2015.