Digital Voice: Making progress with our customer led, regional rollout


By Lucy Baker MBE, All-IP Director, BT Consumer

Earlier this year, we announced plans to roll out our new home phone service, Digital Voice on a region-by-region basis and I’m pleased to say, we’ve made a strong start.

Having started in the East Midlands in July, we moved to Yorkshire and the Humber in August and are about to turn our attention to Northern Ireland.

It’s been a busy couple of months to say the least. We’ve held more than 40 events, we’ve reached over 50,000 people with our radio adverts and newspaper advertorials and we’ve spoken to more than 4,000 of our customers in person. As a result, thousands have made the switch to Digital Voice, bringing us to around two million customers nationally.

As we travel across the country, expect to see and hear more from us in your area. Whether it’s a postcard, a letter, an advert on your local radio station or you decide to come along to one of our regional roadshows.

We know that any change can be unsettling, that’s why we’re making every effort to reach out to our customers and provide them with all of the information they need to make the switch.

And it’s working. Almost everyone who attended our town hall events to date in Nottingham, Leicester, Leeds, and Sheffield scored between eight and nine out of 10 when asked how confident they feel in making the switch to Digital Voice after speaking to one of our advisers.

Through our partnership with AbilityNet, we’re also helping to improve the digital skills among older people. AbilityNet have been supporting us with our regional rollout and are helping customers understand why the changes are happening and how they can make the most of this new technology.

Trialling our approach with the over 70s

Following positive customer feedback and through continued engagement with our Digital Voice Advisory Group (DVAG)* – an association made up of charities and representative groups, including Age UK and Independent Age – we made the decision to trial the rollout of Digital Voice to a limited number of existing broadband customers who are over 70 as part of a new trial.

As before, we’re not proactively switching customers who fall under any of the below criteria, where we have this information available:

  • Customers with a healthcare pendant
  • Customers who only use landlines
  • Customers with no mobile signal
  • Customers who have disclosed any additional needs

The customers we reached out to were between 70 and 74, already had broadband, the latest hub, didn’t use their landline for calls that often and didn’t have any additional needs. Customers who could make the switch easily without being sent any additional equipment.

Our early experience in our trials has shown that 98% of customers between 70 and 74 chose to switch and only 2% chose to defer.

As we have seen through the trial, once customers understand what Digital Voice is and what it means for them, they are happy to go ahead. We’ve even seen high levels of satisfaction from customers and very low levels of complaints. These trials will continue to allow us to understand how best to move customers in this group.

Marlene’s story

Marlene came to our town hall event in Leeds after receiving her invitation to find out about Digital Voice. She has her landline and broadband with BT, but only uses broadband for on demand TV programmes, so her telephone is her only means of keeping in touch with her loved ones. Here’s what she had to say to Alexander Clark and Macauley Green from our Customer Service team:

“It was so helpful to have it explained to me personally and I could ask questions. I’m not great with technology – I can’t even send a text message! My daughter had broadband connected for me so I can keep up with all my programmes, but I wouldn’t know where to begin surfing the web!

“Now I understand what’s happening with the telephone lines it’s a lot like when the television went digital and I didn't need my portable aerial anymore.

“At first, when I heard about Digital Voice I was worried I would lose my landline but Alexander and Macauley put my mind at rest that I’ll still be able to use my home phone and keep in touch with my family and friends - it will just be even better.”

Any of our customers who have been contacted about making the switch (regardless of their age) has the ability to call us with any questions or concerns and can defer their migration for the time being.

Looking ahead

From the Autumn, customers in the North West and across London will be contacted and encouraged to make the switch to Digital Voice. Customers in these regions will be contacted at least four weeks before being upgraded, to help ensure they’re ready to make the switch.

To find out more about our digital home phone service, Digital Voice, please visit: www.bt.com/digital-voice

*Members of the Digital Voice Advisory Group include Age UK, Department of Health and Social Care, Independent Age, Rural Services Network, 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.