BT is a former monopoly that still has a large share of the telecommunications market in Britain, but in order to compete with smaller rivals that can offer fixed line and broadband service for less, it emphasizes customer care and the quality of its telecommunications services.
Data use is a basic tool in helping BT (which holds assets of £21bn or US$34.3bn) distinguish itself in the service areas it has identified as important. For instance, the company tracks "right first time" measures in its handling of new retail and wholesale customers, paying particularly close attention to what happens after a new prospect contacts the company.
Among the things that are measured are: the frequency with which customers abandon a call while waiting on hold for someone to take their order; the percentage of installation visits in which a BT service technician arrives on schedule; and whether a customer makes a request for help in the 28 days after the first bill goes out.
Similarly, BT tracks "right first time" measures, including the number of complaint calls after a service issue has theoretically been addressed.
Mark Ogden, who as enterprise information platform director is responsible for overseeing business intelligence development at BT, says the company uses data from multiple sources, within the limits of industry regulation, to track "right first time" performance. Ogden adds that "right first time" has "evolved into a data set that helps the company in multiple ways, from figuring out if a particular employee is falling short, to identifying customers who have had bad experiences and may therefore be vulnerable to offers from rivals". Such customers receive tailored offers, and their incoming calls are automatically routed to more experienced call-centre staff and given a higher priority. After all, as Mr Ogden says, "winning new customers is harder than retaining existing ones".
In the last year, the "right first time" programme has cut business complaints by 33% and has led to "a massive reduction in the number of people querying its bills," Ogden notes. These are significant advantages to a company that is constrained in its ability to compete solely on price.