Digital Voice: Getting ready for a customer led, regional restart
By Lucy Baker MBE, All-IP Director, BT Consumer
Earlier this year, we announced that we would be contacting customers about the switch to our digital home phone service, Digital Voice on a region-by-region basis from the summer. We also expanded our Digital Voice trials with a small group of customers beyond the pilots in Salisbury and Mildenhall, made up of lower usage landline customers, who have a full fibre broadband connection already.
Over the last 6 weeks, we’ve upgraded the last remaining eligible customers to Digital Voice in Salisbury and Mildenhall, and around 35,000 lower usage, full fibre broadband customers from our expanded trial. In total, we’ve now got around two million customers across the country using Digital Voice.
Customer feedback from these trials has also been really positive, which has given us confidence to now extend these trials further to a wider group of customers across the country who are ready to make the switch. From this week, we will be contacting all full fibre and a smaller group of broadband customers yet to switch to Digital Voice.
As before, we won’t be proactively switching customers who fall under any of the below criteria, where we have this information available:
- Customers with a healthcare pendant
- Customers who are over 70
- Customers who only use landlines
- Customers with no mobile signal
- Customers who have disclosed any additional needs
These customers will be delayed from switching as work continues with stakeholder groups to build confidence in the new solutions we have, help to shape the solutions we’re developing and help them to better understand the support available to make the move.
Preparing for our regional approach
From the summer, customers will be encouraged to make the switch to Digital Voice on a region-by-region basis. The first three regions will be the East Midlands, Yorkshire & Humberside, and Northern Ireland. In addition, customers who are ready and keen to make the switch to Digital Voice, can also contact us at any time, as many have continued to do.
Customers in these regions will be contacted at least four weeks before being upgraded, to help ensure they’re ready to make the switch. For the vast majority of customers, the move to Digital Voice simply involves connecting a landline phone to a BT broadband router. More than 99% of phone handsets are compatible with our Digital Home Phone service and for those that aren't, we have a range of handsets that customers can add to their order.
The regional approach will be supported by general awareness communications, and advertising campaigns, delivered across local and regional media to explain to customers the simple steps required to make the move to Digital Voice. BT will also be present on high streets across the country and at local town hall drop-ins to directly address customer questions on the ground.
Supporting our customers every step of the way with AbilityNet
In April, we announced a partnership with AbilityNet to help improve digital skills among older people. AbilityNet will be supporting us with the region-by-region rollout, ensuring customers understand why the changes are happening and how they can make the most of this new technology.
In addition, we’ve continued to work closely with our Digital Voice Advisory Group – an association made up of charities and representative groups – who have been advising on the needs of customers most affected by the switch. Following feedback from its members*, as well as customers in our pilot scheme areas, we’ve listened and are taking a number of steps to help ensure we’re giving customers the best possible experience.
I’m committed to providing customers with a great experience, supporting them every step of the way - which is why we will visit every single region in the UK, to meet the people in those areas, and ensure we’re doing everything we can to answer questions, and help provide information for a smooth and successful upgrade to switch to our digital home phone service.
To find out more about our digital home phone service, Digital Voice, please visit: www.bt.com/broadband/digital-voice
[*Members of the Digital Voice Advisory Group include Age UK, Department of Health and Social Care, Independent Age, Rural Services Network, Silver Voices and Which? amongst others. This group of stakeholders have been incredibly important in helping to shape our plans for how we approach the move to digital home phones.]