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BT commits long-term future to Plymouth contact centre

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The EE contact centre in Plymouth is set for a multi-million refurbishment as BT commits its long-term future to the city as part of plans to invest in a complete refit of its facility there.

The centre – located in Langage Business Park, Plympton, and one of the largest employers in the area – will undergo a full refurbishment to modernise it and create an improved workspace for the 900 or so colleagues based there.

While the majority of contact centre colleagues based in Plymouth – and at other locations across the country – are still working from home during the pandemic, the company is continuing to invest in new and modern workspaces as part of its ‘Better Workplace’ programme.

At the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, the company introduced new systems to equip contact centre colleagues, who wanted to work from home temporarily, with the technology, security and equipment to do so.

Plymouth is one of the company’s largest contact centres and employs hundreds of customer service advisors, providing support to customers across the UK.

BT’s consumer contact centres now handle 100% of customer calls in the UK, including at EE’s contact centre in Plymouth. Since customer service for BT, EE and Plusnet customers was brought back to the UK and Ireland last year, more than 34 million calls have been handled.

Work on the refurbishment is due to start in the summer and will be phased to make sure there is no impact on customers or colleagues. The project is expected to last around twelve months and will involve local contractors and suppliers, where possible.

EE, part of BT Group, opened the Plymouth contact centre in 2000 and the company says the investment highlights its future commitment to the location and the wider region.

Nick Lane, managing director for consumer customer services at BT, said: “We’re excited about the plans to refurbish our Plymouth contact centre. It’s an important location for the company and will be the first EE contact centre in the country to benefit from one of our new future-fit workplaces.

“While most colleagues are still working from home due to the pandemic, we’ll be working with them to help create a modern, innovative workspace we can all be proud of. The buildings in which we work play a huge part in how we feel.

“Colleagues in our contact centres have played a really important role during the Covid-19 pandemic. They’ve done a fantastic job making sure our customers have been able to stay connected with family, friends and work during this difficult time.”

BT Group is a major employer in the South West of England, directly employing more than 8,000 people, including this contact centre. According to a new independent report published this week, BT Group’s combined activities in the South West adds nearly £2 billion to the region’s economy and supports more than 17,000 jobs through direct and indirect effects.

North-East accent key factor in creating more EE jobs

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

EE is creating more than 250 jobs at its Darlington base next year, with the boss of BT putting the decision down to the North-East accent.

Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT describes accents as one of the most important factors, along with the “good personalities, attitude and digital skills” that he’d found in the North-East area.

“People love speaking to North-East people,” he said.

“It’s why the company re-shored services from abroad, because that’s what customers want – even if it costs a wee bit more”, he added.

The jobs in Darlington will take the headcount at the contact centre to almost 3,000, with another 500 jobs earmarked for Wearside and Tyneside.

Discussing the jobs, an EE spokesperson said: “We’re committed to providing the best customer service in our industry and part of this is about answering all of our customers’ calls in the UK and Ireland.

“We’re continuing to invest in Darlington and our other sites in the North-East, and we’re continuing to hire great local talent so we can ensure our customers have the best possible experience.”

BT hints at more call centre jobs heading to Wales

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The director of BT Wales has hinted that more customer service jobs could be returning from India to Wales, as the telecoms giant continues to review its customer service strategy.

The news comes in the wake of 100 new call centre jobs created by the company in Swansea earlier in the year.

Alwen Williams, director of BT Wales said: “Customer service is absolutely critical for BT and improving that customer service experience for our customers; so we are bringing all customer service calls back from India to the UK.

“Swansea is an extremely important site for us strategically; we have found that we can recruit really good people in Swansea who will stay with us.

“The training they get is well used and it’s good for the organisation.

“It’s not just about the call centre either.

“The site that we have here in Swansea is much more strategically important for BT because it’s where we test our customer-based products.”

The Welsh government has supported the move.

Discussing the move after visiting the BT tower in Swansea, economy secretary Ke Skates said: “It’s great to be able to draw back to Wales employment that in previous years was lost.

“There are 30,000 people employed in contact centres across Wales and it’s a highly valued part of the economy now.

“This particular BT facility is employing a lot of the brightest and best people in the area and it’s great to see them having superb career prospects.”

“BT are talking very positively about their future prospects here. I think we need to watch this space.”

NICE move by BT

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Telecoms giant BT Group has chosen NICE software to replace its previous recording and workforce management (WFM) solutions, implementing NICE WFM, Nice Engage and Nexidia Analytics across the group within the next three years.

Working towards improved customer services experience, ensured regulatory compliance and optimised total cost of ownership, BT undertook a selection process that resulted ion choosing NICE for multichannel recording, speech and text analysis and WFM.

Commenting on the new partnership, Libby Barr, managing director of consumer customer care at BT Group, said: “After extensive research we concluded that the NICE WFM, Engage and Analytics platforms were the best in the market, with a proven track record of helping organisations such as ourselves to deliver better outcomes for our customers, whilst also allowing for simplified support processes.

“We look forward to partnering with NICE as we embed their use into our contact centres.”

John O’Hara, president of NICE EMEA, added: “With the roll-out of the three complementary NICE solutions at BT – focused on employees, channels and customers – they are reinventing customer service and significantly improving employee engagement with new features and functionalities.

“BT’s contact centre evolution reflects NICE’s position as a driver of actionable insights and efficiency across customer-centric operations in the telecommunications industry, with solutions that both reward and create successful employees.”


EE creates 60 new jobs in Merthyr Tydfil

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Mobile phone giant EE is recruiting 60 new jobs at its call centre in Merthyr Tydfil.

The UK’s biggest mobile operator, owned by BT, already employs more than 800 staff at its Rhyd-y-Car Business Park site with the majority of the staff travelling in from the surrounding local area.

EE created 1,000 new jobs across its sites in 2016 alone. The move comes as the firm looks to base all customer service calls in the UK and Ireland.

As well as Merthyr, the customer service advisors will fill positions in North Tyneside, Darlington, Greenock, Plymouth and Oxford.

The decision to bring its customer service calls back to the UK has been heralded as a success by the company, which claims that complaints are now well below the industry average.

More than a hundred of the roles offered will be part of EE’s apprenticeship scheme, offering people the chance to learn new skills and gain nationally recognised qualifications while building a longterm career at the company. The programme, launched in 2012, has already recruited 1,300 apprentices through the system.

Economy Secretary Ken Skate said: “I am delighted that EE will be recruiting an additional 60 new advisers to its contact centre in Merthyr. This is excellent news for the local economy, particularly given EE’s commitment to training and developing its staff and supporting them to progress and build long term careers.”

Chief executive of EE, Marc Allera, said: “Keeping connected continues to play an increasing role in peoples’ lives, and we’re working hard to invest in our staff and our network to keep Britain connected and ensure we create the best experience possible for new and existing customers.

“We’re also proud to be continuing to support the UK jobs market and providing the platform for our staff and incoming apprentices to gain skills and build long and successful careers with us.”

EE is also looking to make significant investments in Wales’ 4G network, taking coverage from 40% of its landmass January 2017 to 90%coverage by December 2017.


Vodafone Call Centre

Vodafone pledges £2bn customer service investment over next two years

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

UK-based communications giant Vodafone has pledged to invest over £2bn in its customer service over the next two years, starting with the announcement of over 2,100 new UK call-centre jobs.

The new roles will be on shored from South Africa, where the company currently uses an agency, and spread across existing Vodafone call centres in Scotland, Wales, Manchester and the Midlands.

The company will continue to use some of its customer service operations overseas, including technical staff in Egypt.

Locations include Stoke-on-Trent, Newark and Cardiff, with nearly half of the new roles sent to the company’s Manchester call centre.

A fine of £4.6m was imposed by Ofcom in October 2016 due to issues with Vodafone’s billing systems in 2015, with Ofcom accusing Vodafone of ‘mis-selling, inaccurate billing and poor complaints handling procedures.”

Cheaper overseas customer service roles have been used traditionally by telecommunications and technology industries, with countries such as India and South Africa benefiting from the work. However, recent wage inflations and the continued frustrations by customers at being routed overseas to discuss issues has motivated more and more companies to on shore customer service departments.

EE claimed to be the first operator to in-source all call centre rolls back in 2014, bringing over 1,000 customer service operator jobs to sites including North Tyneside, Darlington, Plymouth and Merthyr Tydfil.

Parent company, BT, which bought EE for £12.5bn, has also started the process of bringing back jobs from India, with 1,500 call-centre staff being hired across the UK and Ireland.


BT Logo

BT and T-Systems announce new networks partnership

1024 683 Stuart O'Brien

BT and T-Systems have announced a partnership agreement, enabling T-Systems to offer its customers the option of using a range of network services from BT to connect their operations across the globe.

The new deal comes after both parties announced that BT customers would be able to connect to T-Systems’ data centres to access SAP cloud services.

This new partnership will allow T-Systems and BT to be able to interconnect their networks to meet the requirements of individual customers, allowing T-Systems to increase its international reach by more than 60 percent and also enabling the company to offer seamless connectivity to its international customers for specific global network services, such as Multi Protocol Label Switching.

“We are looking forward to working closely with T-Systems to give their customers more choices in the way they can leverage networks to accelerate their global expansion and optimise their technology investments”, said Luis Alvarez, Global Services CEO, BT. “In addition to our existing multi-national customers, this agreement will allow us to serve an extended customer base via T Systems. This agreement will help maximise the utilisation of our existing assets and sustainably increase our own competitiveness, bringing long term benefits to BT customers as well. Coming after our recent agreement enabling our customers to access SAP services hosted in T-Systems data centres, this is a new step in the development of a mutually beneficial partnership between both companies.”

Reinhard Clemens, CEO T-Systems, added: “Our international corporate customers already benefit from our powerful network. By interconnecting with BT’s network, we offer our customers substantial increase in global reach. The partnership with BT is an excellent example of how T Systems plans to work with strong partners to further drive our international business forward.”


BT to add 500 jobs to meet customer service targets…

800 450 Jack Wynn

British Telecom (BT) has declared it will add a further 500 frontline customer service positions to its
bases across the UK and Ireland.

Due to the continuing growth of the company’s BT Consumer division, contact centres in Doncaster,
Accrington, Swansea and Warrington are expected to benefit the most, and the new roles are in addition to the previously-announced target of 1,000 UK and Ireland customer service jobs by the end of March 2017.

Expanding the customer service teams will also help with BT’s commitment to answer 90 per cent of its customers’ calls in the UK and Ireland by the same date.

Libby Barr, managing director of customer care at BT Consumer, said: “We are proud to be creating these new jobs in the UK and Ireland. BT is completely changing the way we serve our customers in order to boost our service levels.

“We are going to answer 90 per cent of our customers’ calls in the UK and Ireland by the end of March, and we have been taking on great people to fill full time jobs working for BT. In fact, we will be recruiting for an extra 500 positons, which will be a dramatic increase in what we said we’d do.”

BT’s existing employees can earn a £500 bonus under a ‘Refer a Friend’ scheme if their friend’s application is successful and they complete the first six months of the role.

Manpower agency staff will also have the chance to convert their role into a permanent position with BT.