A focus on customer experience drives BT service excellence

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With 130 people in my In-Life Operations teams and hundreds more working indirectly to support our in-life services globally, you could say I’m in one of the best positions to measure the success of BT’s focus on Customer Experience (CX). We are on the frontline of customer engagement and the first point of contact for everything from routine technical queries to business critical outages.

It’s no exaggeration to say that I live and breathe customer engagement. Our mission may seem straightforward – handling support calls as efficiently as possible – but doing it right is immensely complicated. Our main goal is for first line service desk personnel to resolve issues on first contact, and I’m proud to say that in the last year we achieved 80% first call resolution compared to 60% two years ago.

So how did we manage such a quick improvement? It comes down to carefully nurturing a culture and implementing our CX framework, particularly around the 'voice of the customer' element.

Troubleshooting a range of issues

If you fix a high percentage of faults at the first point of contact, not passing customers off to someone else, you take a big step towards giving them a great experience. Solve issues quickly and it’s job done. The challenge for BT is that our service desk and network operations centre support what I call the ‘the magnificent seven’, the seven technology platforms that are core to our business. It’s a big remit. 

Largely defined by the different network layers, the seven topologies span everything from voice and internet services to capacity management around core networks.  Our frontline agents need to be generalists who can troubleshoot and resolve issues across all of them. What makes their job more complicated is the diverse nature of the issues – some can simply be defined as technology faults; others are caused by an unexpected confluence of circumstances.

Capacity issues can be particularly challenging. An extreme example happened with coronavirus, when lockdown forced companies to move to remote working literally overnight. Our team was in massive demand, helping solve connectivity challenges as the flow of network traffic changed direction and people were set up to work from home.  

Understanding the customer

Our front-line teams can achieve 80% first touch resolution because they understand our customers. They have documents and data at their fingertips that gives them a good grasp of the business and its history before they resolve an incident.

They can access information and videos in our SharePoint and Teams repository that will walk them through technical issues. Recorded calls show how issues were successfully resolved before. Or they can seek advice from our specialists who are always around, constantly coaching and supporting the frontline team.

Having deeper expertise on hand is not just about a quick fix for an immediate problem, it’s about continuous training, fostering a culture where the learning never stops. Combine this with our deep dive data into what kinds of queries we are mostly likely to be asked and you start to put our engineers on the front foot. 

Voice of the Customer sessions

We deal with around 50,000 tickets a year and 95% of them are met within the terms of the client Service Level Agreement (SLA). But a big part of our service desk culture had been about exceeding SLAs. Our teams are highly motivated to solve customer problems as quickly as possible. We build customer trust by beating expectations.

This culture was achieved by encouraging every employee to ‘own their customers’, to take personal responsibility for achieving the best possible outcome, not passing it over to someone else or putting it to the back of the queue because the SLA says you can. Our voice of the customer sessions have helped us achieve this, where we put our people in the customer’s shoes.

Part of our culture is an appetite to learn and improve. We are proud to have developed a team that is inquisitive – they always want to know about new fixes to old problems and likely challenges around emerging technologies. Upskilling our people to a point where CX is in their DNA, we’re the customer-centric organisation we set out to become over a decade ago.