15 Minutes of Shay: Our customer experience journey

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You spoke at the Irish Management Institute event in November about the BT Ireland story and how BT transformed itself into one of Ireland’s leading customer-centric companies. How did the company reshape its customer experience?

We started this journey twelve years ago, we knew we had a problem and that change needed to happen. We partnered with Deep Insight, a European B2B Customer Experience organisation who specialise in helping companies improve their service to customers. We implemented a comprehensive customer satisfaction survey which looks at your company’s uniqueness in terms of the products and services, customer service, operations and many other areas.  They use a segmentation approach ‘Customer Relationship Quality’ which allows you to get critical insight into what your customers think of your business which is scored from 0-7.

The initial customer feedback was poor, we were in the “Danger Zone” around the 4.1 mark when we first surveyed our customers. We decided to survey once every six months to get a sense about how our customers felt about BT as a provider. It improved slightly but not enough, we had to ask ourselves how do we go about changing? We needed to improve the areas in which our customers were concerned about and create a better experience for them. It was critical to know how we take the feedback, and what to do with it. Service delivery was a big issue, as it is for many companies in the telecommunications business. We improved but not enough, something we are continuing to work on. Customer experience is so important and it is essential that we listen to the customer and prioritise what needs to be fixed and work on it.

Deep Insight is a leading European B2B Customer Experience company founded in 2000.

In the early days there was so much broken, we had to work on these areas and survey our customers again asking if we had fixed the initial issue. We created a role to manage the survey and the whole process and it began to improve. We made a breakthrough in 2012/13 as we moved above 5.5 for the first time and that was a massive step. This means we had more customers as ambassadors then detractors. We made it in our plan to ensure everyone has it in their scorecard or in their sales plan, so everyone in the business has an element of this in their goals that is reliant on the Deep Insight survey.

Well it’s clearly shown because the average tenure for both business and wholesale customers is around 9 years. Can you tell us why that is?

Yes that’s right. In Wholesale it’s eleven and in business it’s eight, so if we add up all the contracts the average is around nine years for both sectors. We are now up at  unique status which in practical terms means that our customers value our service as much as our commercial offering and that if asked unprompted they would recommend us to other companies looking for networked communication services. I think 68/69% of our customers are in the ambassador section which is very strong. Once you improve it’s important to keep the standard high. We’ve focussed Business Managers and Account Directors to ensure they prioritise helping our customers. The Business Manager is there to make sure the contract is managed. The Service Manager is there to look after the day to day SLAs, the billing, the service issues, the reports. And the sales person is there to ensure new sales are generated. We call it a pod structure which has worked very well. So its how do we make room in our P & L to have more people doing that. Because listening to the customer is so important, servicing the customers’ requirements and needs, being innovative and also making sure the service that you deliver is high quality; because we’re not going to be the cheapest, but we’re high value, and in some cases we can be cheaper than other suppliers. The main goal is to keep providing good service to our customers and listen to what they have to say and improve year on year.

Shay Walsh