The Issue:

Good customer service is critical in today’s competitive business environment, especially in the telecoms sector, where businesses are all fighting for the same customers.

The Key Objective:

BT’s group customer experience programme works with all the different parts of the business to ensure the right conditions to help BT deliver its promise to be “No.1 for customer service”.  To do this, BT wanted to improve the performance and confidence of front line, customer facing staff.

The Challenge:

BT wanted a more detailed understanding of how customer services staff operated in their roles, how they handled customers and the support and development they needed to improve their knowledge and performance to ensure they could engage confidently with customers. The company also wanted to identify any negative factors impacting the customer experience too and address them.

One of the most complex areas of the business within BT Retail is “My Order” – which has around 12 million consumer customers and one million small-to-medium business customers. Based in five contact centres in the UK, the ‘My Order’ team deals with many different types of customers and products, and agents have to navigate multiple systems and processes, depending on what the customer wants to buy.

The challenge for BT Retail was to ensure agents could talk knowledgably about its range of products and services and handle customers well when something has gone wrong (e.g. an internet order not completed, an engineer failed to turn up etc.).

What Cognisco provided:

Cognisco partnered with BT to co-develop a tailored, multiple response online assessment that uniquely measures the competence and confidence of employees.

Using the assessment, BT was able to measure customer service agents’ performance in six key areas:

  • Dealing with conflict and saying no confidently
  • Trust and controlling the call
  • Being responsible for your customer’s order
  • Recognising the problem and fixing customer needs
  • Setting customer expectations positively
  • Speaking in a way that customers want

The Outcome:

The assessments gave the My Order management team insight into call-handling

behaviour relating to product knowledge and processes. It revealed a mixture of levels of understanding and knowledge amongst different teams and individuals. BT was able to pinpoint topics where greater staff development and training was needed such as dealing with conflict, being responsible for customer’s order, recognising and fixing customer issues and setting customer expectations more positively.

The company also identified where processes were ‘broken’ and impacted the customer experience in a negative way and offer individuals coaching and training to improve performance. New customer-focused training was developed to help agents improve their customer communication.

Operationally BT experienced the following results:

  • The number of times customers repeatedly called back within 28 days reduced by 5.2%, which saved costs equivalent to the salary of 14 full-time contact centre agents
  • On average agents were spending 8 seconds less handling each customer call, which equated to the salary of 4 full-time agents
  • The ratings customers gave on how satisfied they were with their interaction with a BT agent improved by 9%

In monetary terms these operational improvements equated to:

  • An annualised benefit of between £190K and £285K; which would be equivalent to £1.4 million to £2.1 million per annum of replicated across BT Retail Customer Services (around 3,500 agents)
  • A return on investment of between £124K (188%) and £219K (333%) – equivalent to £847K to £1.5 million across BT Retail Customer Services

The next steps/conclusion:

This assessment pilot showed BT the level of insight it was possible to extract about teams and individuals. Through identifying their knowledge gaps and people’s mismatched levels of confidence and knowledge, the company was able to better target learning and coaching to where it was needed most.

Managing Director of Customer Services at BT Retail commented: “Our goal is to be the number one company for customer services. Our partnership with Cognisco has transformed the way we are developing our teams and given us insight into their competence and confidence. We now understand the issues and challenges they face in their roles and have identified ways to improve our customer experience and their performance. We are already seeing significant improvements to customer retention rates and we can see that long term, the assessments will deliver major cost benefits.”

BT is committed to rolling out the Cognisco approach across the whole Retail Customer Services division and is also working with Cognisco to develop another project for wholesale business. The projected pipeline already identified is of over 30,000 users of the Cognisco-enabled development approach over the next five years.

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