The Herald Business - - Commercial Brief -

BT is per­haps the best known provider of call cen­tre ser­vices through­out the UK but even this be­he­moth has had to dras­ti­cally change its cus­tomer ser­vices op­er­a­tion.

War­ren Buck­ley is BT Re­tail Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Cus­tomer Ser­vice and man­ages all of the com­pany’s call cen­tres.

“There are three sig­nif­i­cant things: Eco­nomic times are dif­fi­cult and our cus­tomers want their pound to go fur­ther so they are more in­ter­ested in the ser­vice they get around a prod­uct. When they call, they want to talk to some­one who is in­ter­ested, em­pa­thetic and un­der­stands their needs. They want that ex­pe­ri­ence to be easy and ef­fort­less.

“The sec­ond thing is that if we look even just three or four years back, the pri­mary route was al­ways the phone. You ex­pected a Freep­hone num­ber, you called up, and that was it. That has rad­i­cally shifted to a multi-chan­nel en­vi­ron­ment and cus­tomers ex­pect to be able to do that on so­cial me­dia, text, live chat or email.

“The third el­e­ment is how tech­nol­ogy has changed in terms of what we’re able to do for cus­tomers. Tra­di­tion­ally we have used the au­to­mated ‘press but­ton 1’ kind of ap­proach but now we’re in­tro­duc­ing nat­u­ral lan­guage.”

Voice au­to­mated sys­tems have their de­trac­tors. You have only to search YouTube for the Glas­gow voice op­er­ated el­e­va­tor to see the prob­lems but BT is con­vinced it has bro­ken through those bar­ri­ers.

The cus­tomer feed­back seems to in­di­cate that this is true: “Our cus­tomers have been telling us that their fo­cus is on how ef­fort­less their con­tact is so we have been mon­i­tor­ing how easy or dif­fi­cult that ex­pe­ri­ence has been with BT. We use Neteasy to as­sess that feed­back.

“Set­ting out a score from 1 – very ef­fort­less and easy – to 7 – dif­fi­cult: we use that in­for­ma­tion to cre­ate a net score on how we’re do­ing. When we had the ‘press but­ton 1’ tech­nol­ogy in place, we got a very neg­a­tive score.

“Voice ac­ti­va­tion sys­tems have brought that up by 30 points so what we’re start­ing to see is a much more pos­i­tive re­ac­tion from cus­tomers. Our de­ci­sions are made by our cus­tomers: theirs is the loud­est voice.”

War­ren Buck­ley stresses an em­pa­thetic, in­ter­ested re­sponse

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