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Oct 03, 2022

Setting BT on course for Customer Excellence through Continuous Improvement

By Michelle Finnegan Customer Excellence Manager, BT Ireland

Delighted as BT Ireland was to win Best Measurement in Customer Experience at last month’s 2022 European Customer Centricity Awards, we see it as an affirmation of the work we’ve done to date, a milestone on our journey rather than the final destination. We know that Customer Experience needs a measurable process to succeed, one that feeds into a strategy of Continuous Improvement (CI), where you never stop, you just keep getting better.

Since 2017 it's been my job, along with Karen Corcoran (Continuous Improvement Manager) and recently Aisling Mclaughlin (CI professional), to support our CX teams with a Continuous Improvement framework.  We knew the success of our mission would depend on how quickly and effectively we could embed Continuous Improvement in the culture of BT.

Plan and execution

I’m pleased to say that we’re making great progress. By next year around 350 people – more than half of BT Ireland – will be working to our framework, and we can start to talk about Continuous Improvement being truly embedded in the business. That’s when we will be able to offer our customers an even better customer experience, one that we can continually fine tune to meet their needs.

How did we get here? First, we took BT Group’s CI framework and customised it for BT Ireland. By 2021 we were running the framework autonomously, a set of Lean Six Sigma and change management processes that rely on stakeholder involvement to manage customer engagements more effectively.

It’s all about training managers in the framework and picking a process to focus on that will make them more customer-centric in their area of the business. They then start to take personal ownership of customer engagements and responsibility for fixing issues if things go wrong. What comes afterwards is the beginnings of a CI mindset, one that is constantly informed by feedback from our customers.

In 2017 we started the journey with Service Delivery. We delivered a number of measurable CI improvements, which introduced multiple efficiencies, including reducing touchpoints in processes and improving overall customer delivery lead times. 

The feedback in response to these initiatives was very positive, with both customers and internal teams acknowledging the improved customer experience.  This success encouraged us to expand CI further.

There have been huge improvements in standard deliveries for our Wholesale customers… with delivery times being very reliable and BT hitting our targets on a very regular basis

Voice of the customer

Our framework is built on listening to the voice of the customer and underpinned by three pillars: strategy deployment, to ensure the whole business is working towards the same goals; effective performance dialogue, which is about aligning the right measurement to different parts of the business, and structured problem solving, which ensures CI targets are met across different organisational silos.

The endgame is a CI improvement cycle. Once teams are listening and understanding the voice of the customer, they start to define how they would measure improvement and what it would look like. The next stage is about closing the gap between where they are and where they need to be.

Every team is different depending on the area of business and the type of work they do. Not all of them are outward facing, for example, and CI may be about better serving internal rather than external customers. The framework is designed to accommodate these variables while retaining a method of measurement that is consistent across the company. A set of tools and techniques can be adjusted to the needs of each department.


Along the way, people are incentivised to do their best. Three types of medal – Bronze, Silver, Gold – are awarded to individuals who have driven improvement. It’s another way to mark progress while creating some friendly competition between teams. We also assess the teams level of embedding CI through knowledge assessments – awarding Foundation, Advanced, Exceptional accreditations.  Last year we delivered 9 medals across 9 teams and onboarded another 9 teams to the framework.  This year we are targeting a further 32 medals across 21 teams and onboarding another 4.

We’ve a strong belief in our CI framework, our internal and external customers are telling us it works.  As the embedding of the CI culture continues to build momentum it’s important we tell our story as the framework is adopted more widely and the value of Continuous Improvement initiatives are understood, this includes taking part in the Lean Business Awards 2022. 

All-important customer feedback has been excellent, including a pharma company and a bank that have seen tangible improvements in network monitoring and service desk performance.

Since the launch of Entuity, we have seen a new level of proactivity from BT & as a result a reduction in the number of service impacting incidents & we are looking forward to seeing what the next stage of BTs tooling transformation will deliver

Internally, we have fostered a growing culture of collaboration with individuals in teams taking on more responsibility.  There is still lots to do, but we’ve come a long way over the past 5 years and excited for the Continuous Improvement journey that lies ahead.