BT invests in Scottish experience lab to transform customer service


BT’s first ‘office of the future’ in Dundee will trial innovative new projects and ways of working with UK business customers

BT has launched its first Customer Experience Lab in Dundee to test new ways of supporting its 1.1 million business customers across the UK.

Designed to reinvent the traditional contact centre, the unique Lab will trial innovative customer service solutions and feature concepts developed in collaboration with students at Dundee’s Abertay Business School. Those which prove successful will be extended to other BT centres and operations in the UK.

A team of 31 multi-skilled advisors has been drawn from BT’s existing city operations to staff the new Lab and provide expertise on a range of business enquiries - from new orders to billing and technical support. Business customers who call in will only need to speak to a single advisor, regardless of the reason for their call.

In the month since the Lab opened its doors, the newly-trained team has handled more than 3,000 calls from small and medium-sized business customers across the UK.

The Lab was designed by Glasgow workplace architects Alpha Scotland to create a unique collaborative and creative space.

The Abertay students came up with several ideas to transform the traditional contact centre environment after being given a brief to rip up the rule book and redefine the role of the advisor. They applied fresh thinking to workplace layout and feel, use of technology to create new ways of working and how to improve productivity and engagement.

Among the student concepts to be incorporated into the final Lab design were a ‘product bench’ with working versions of BT’s products, which advisors can use during conversations with customers; wireless headsets to let people to move around while they are on the phone; and the use of ‘gamification’ to provide engaging training opportunities.

For example, during training sessions one team could create a fault on a piece of kit typically used by a customer – such as a computer – and the opposing team would score points for fixing these faults against the clock.

BT’s Trafford Wilson, managing director for customer service, business and public sector, said: “Through innovation and trialling new processes, we’re addressing things that our customers tell us we can improve. We know our customers don’t like having their call transferred from one department to another, so we’ve created a team of experts that can handle most enquiries on the one call.

“We expect that some things we trial in the CX Lab may not work – but things that do will be rolled out across the rest of our organisation. We want to create a culture where people are encouraged to be creative and work together to help provide innovative new solutions for our customers.”

Dundee-based Alison MacKenzie, general manager for BT customer service, said: “We felt we had a great talent pool in Dundee to draw on for the launch, not only among our own employees to staff the Lab, but with Abertay Business School students providing some exciting new ideas which now move from concept to reality.

“This latest BT investment in Dundee is another endorsement of the city’s strategic importance to our UK customer service operations.”

BT has recently announced plans to recruit 50 new advisors and around 40 apprentices into its Dundee customer service operations this year. Last year, BT made a Gross Value Added (GVA) contribution of around £110 million to the Dundee economy. The company supported more than 1,300 jobs in Dundee through direct employment, spending with contractors and suppliers and the spending of employees, and spent £1 million with local suppliers.*


*Data taken from the report ‘The Economic Impact of BT and EE in the UK’ by Regeneris Consulting for the financial year 2015/16.