Bringing Customer Service Back to The UK


A jigsaw puzzle of europe shows the UK out of place

Neil Hammerton, CEO and Co-Founder of Natterbox, discusses why BT have brought all their contact centres back to the UK, and why this is valuable for customer experience.

Last month BT announced that it would be moving all of its remaining overseas call centres back to Britain. BT has long been plagued by a poor reputation for customer service, and this move is part of the company’s efforts to improve that.

It moved 80% of its call centres to Britain back in 2015, a move that laid the groundwork for its new plans to answer 100 per cent of British customer service calls within the bounds of the British Isles by the end of the decade. But is such a drastic ploy necessary?

Home or Away

A BT spokesperson stated that the decision was made to help the company respond to regional differences within the UK, allowing for more personal conversations – even enabling the opportunity for small talk about football teams.

The company isn’t wrong to prioritize personalization. In a world where consumers can switch between service providers at the click of a button – the risk of which is only intensified when customers have experienced poor service – it could be argued that personalization is more important than ever.

When customers call a business, long wait times, inefficient processes, having to repeat their issue to multiple agents or just being put on hold can all be catalysts for frustration, which could see them turn elsewhere. But micro-misunderstandings between an agent and customer who speak different languages or have different accents can be even more frustrating. Such experiences can trigger feelings of distance from the company, at a time when people want to feel closer to the brands they interact with.

Small Talk’s Big Impact

The call centre has an important role to play in the personalization of customer service. Not everyone has time for a chit-chat, but it’s important to ensure that customers feel comfortable on the other end of the line. Companies should scrap the script and get to know who they’re talking to. They should be personable, use their name, be informed about the client and, where possible, adopt technology that can help staff with this personalization even further.

For most organizations the phone is one of many ways customers can get in contact. To help with personalization, businesses should always consider changing channels to the most appropriate for the issue in question. Often a customer enquiry or problem will be delivered via email or a web form, but companies shouldn’t automatically assume it’s appropriate to continue on that channel. It may be better to speak to a particularly emotional customer over the phone, for example, to ensure the situation is defused and resolved quickly and empathetically, without the risk of misunderstandings over email.

Making Your Move

There’s more than one way to personalize your customer service and they don’t all involve crossing seas. With technology more advanced than ever before, relocation need only be a last resort. It is a huge operation, and something that is simply not an option for many businesses – so it’s worth considering other ways to personalize the customer journey.

One option is to integrate intelligent cloud-based telephony software. These systems enable personalization in many forms. Firstly, they can safely record customer data, giving an agent a 360-view into the caller – who they are, what they might be calling about and any previous interactions with the brand – before the call has even started.

Furthermore, telephony platforms can direct callers to representatives they have spoken to in the past (which in some instances can even open up the possibility of the odd bit of football chat) and break down language barriers by providing real-time voice translation. They can also personalize the call options menu, so when a customer contacts an organization they will only be presented with choices relevant to them. The list goes on.

Cloud-based telephony means that businesses don’t necessarily have to close the physical gap between caller and agent in order to close the metaphorical gap between the business and customer.

More Than a Number

A thumbnail photo of Neil Hammerton

Neil Hammerton

In a world where everyone feels reduced to just another number, personalizing the customer experience enhances the customer–business connection in a unique way.

While it’s great to see BT making efforts to improve its service, efforts must go beyond just the physical location of a call centre. The personalization journey is certainly a long one, but integrating the right technology can help businesses make significant strides.

For more on Natterbox, visit their website: www.natterbox.com

Published On: 17th Mar 2020 - Last modified: 18th Mar 2020
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