Auckland, New Zealand, Sept 14, 2020 -- Broadband company, Vocus, plans to begin offering customer support in Maori from November.
Maori-language support will be offered as an option to customers of its Slingshot internet brand when they call its 0800 number or initiate a web-chat session.
Vocus is advertising for three call centre agents fluent in Maori to provide the service.
Consumer and business manager Taryn Hamilton said if a customer selected support in te reo Maori they would go straight through to a te reo-speaking person without any transfers.
"What is important for us is that it isn’t superficial.
"What we are hoping to achieve is it is embedded into all of our support channels, so whether you want a phone call, chat, or email support there will be an option to get those in te reo, as well as English obviously."
Hamilton said it was not sure what the demand would be.
"It could be tepid or it could have an amazing response. It will be interesting to see, but we thought it was an important thing to do, regardless.
"We just thought it was an exciting and respectful thing to do, to support one of New Zealand’s three official languages."
The agents Slingshot was hiring would probably need to provide customer support in English as well, Hamilton said, depending on the demand.
It might need more than three agents or that might be too many, he said.
"We’ll wait and see. But they will be permanent team members."
There was a fair amount of "jargon" in the technology sector, but Slingshot had pretty comprehensive translations on its website, he said.
No other major telcos appear to be providing a similar service, though they are understood to have initiatives in place to support te reo during Maori language week.
Vodafone NZ Maori development head Kirstin Te Wao said 25 staff including three of its ‘X-Squad" customer service staff were doing a full-year course in te reo.
It is playing music in te reo this week to customers who are on hold waiting for phone support.
2degrees spokeswoman Katherine Cornish said it would be encouraging all its staff to "try new phrases and words and have conversations and share knowledge".
"Our customer care team, while based in New Zealand, is a real mixture of different cultures and for many of them English is their second language and Te Reo is very new to them, so our aim is creating a supportive environment for them to give it a go," she said.
About 120 Spark staff have been through a "Maori Made Easy" programme.
The company created its own waiata and an app providing a Maori interpretation of its corporate values in 2018 as part of a wider bid to persuade employees to "bring their real selves to work".
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Wednesday, September 16, 2020
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