BT will recruit 1,000 staff in the UK after customers complained that that they did not like speaking to staff in Indian call centres.
The group said as a result of this feedback, it would ensure that at least 80% of calls were answered from the UK by the end of the year, up from more than 50% currently.
The telecoms giant pledged to spend £80m to improve its customer service, ranked by the regulator, Ofcom, as among the worst in the industry.
The changes will begin in Swansea, with a further 100 staff to be hired in BT’s South Wales centre. The remaining jobs will be spread around BT’s 20 call centres throughout the UK.
The attempt to placate frustrated customers resulted in BT creating 1,000 jobs at UK call centres last year; it plans double that number by April 2017.
The recruitment drive follows reports from customers that they preferred speaking to people in UK call centres rather than Indian staff based in Bangalore and Delhi. BT said the new jobs would be “frontline roles” in customer care.
Indian call centres, which BT started using in 2003, are expected to be moved into positions that do not involve talking to customers.
The plan is part of an effort to improve BT’s standing in the tables of customer complaints, compiled by Ofcom.
The regulator’s annual report on customer service, released on Friday, shows that Sky and Virgin Media beat BT in terms of satisfaction with how complaints were handled. But while BT performed badly overall, data on how quickly telecoms firms resolved complaints undermine reports that customers find it hard to communicate with Indian call centre staff.
BT beat major rivals Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media for resolving broadband complaints within an hour and was ranked second for landline problems.
Libby Barr, BT managing director of customer care, said the hiring drive was a “fantastic boost for the UK economy and many regions where we are already a significant employer”.
As well as beefing up its customer service team, BT is also changing the way they work. It said staff had recently agreed to more flexible working hours, to make sure calls could be answered from the UK at the weekend and in the evenings. “This demonstrates the commitment from everyone at BT to work together to improve customer service and to make things easy for our customers,” said Barr.
BT said staff would receive an extra 100 hours of training to improve their response to complaints.
Technology will also play a part in BT’s efforts to improve relations with customers. Systems used by call centre staff will be updated, while customers can use the BT mobile phone app to check their bill or track an engineer ahead of an appointment.
Source: The Guardian / Rob Davies