Part 2: #Fail BT and a Failure of Customer Care

In Part 1 of the BT Customer Care Fail, we talked about a breakdown in customer care standards at BT over a relatively simple residential telecomms matter.

A couple of people read the blog (several hundred on the day) and it must have been read somewhere by BT. My last email to @BTCare asked them to initiate a formal complaint. Corporations often have a formal complaints procedure – in fact I set one up once precisely to stop people complaining: most people when they call want to let off steam – if you ask them if they want to initiate the formal complains procedure and say there will be forms to fill in, most people say, “no thanks – I just wanted to get it off my chest.” But I wanted the formality on this occasion. The flipside to a formal process is that it will make grown-ups sit in a room, take notes and document things.

The finality of the last email from @BTCare suggested that the Call Sign number was unrecoverable. But then a day later came this piece of really interesting mail from David, one of the Customer Care staff who’d been dealing with a lot of the emails.

I had raised this with our senior management stall within BT since my last e-mail as to be honest i felt this was not great customer service that we were providing to you. I have managed to get this reported as we should be able to provide our customers with the same number if they remain within the same exchange but it was our system and other issues that were stopping us from doing so.

In light of this i was able to raise this directly with our suppliers to see if they were able to put a fix into place and i am happy to say that they were able to do some tweaking and some changes and they have now been able to re-provide you the call sign service with your original number on it. We did do a test call but unfortunately we got no response so we are unsure if it is working at your end of if it was just that you were unavailable at the time of the call.

If you could please confirm if the service is now back up and running again as i will need to close down the orders on your account to show it as working or check why if it is not yet working.

Note the first couple of lines: you can see the first signs of empowered customer service, of a genuine person within the business. Work I did in the past with opening call centres showed me that great customer care is often about empowering individuals to make change happen, about allowing people at the coal face actually make a difference to the people who call them. You’ll note from Lisa Harrington’s comment on the blog that there is clearly some work to be done at @BTCare when trying to combine traditional contact centre process (telephones) with email and twitter contact management. Fundamentally everyone must be singing from the same hymn sheet, and at the same time, contact centre staff for all channels need to be empowered to make change when there are clear reasons to do so. Lisa’s also arranged to call me at a future date and I’ll write more about our discussion if appropriate.

If you want to see an empowered customer care outfit, take a look at US retail store Woot: they’ve recently been acquired by Amazon, and one of their staff made an excellent video which reflects their open and empowered culture (which the video actually suggests they would like to keep). Thanks to @KatieMoffat for that one.

And finally – the good news. The Call Sign is back. The old number has been restored. Mrs EB’s own culture of customer care can resume. You can buy things from New Rooms and call if there is ever a problem or (more likely) if everything is how it should be.