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28 March 2002

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Press Release!


· £100 million to be spent on creating 30 next-generation multi-function customer contact centres.

· Fifty three existing call centres will close within two years but 68% of people will relocate to neighbouring next-generation sites.

· No compulsory redundancy and commitment to find suitable alternative roles for everyone who wants to stay with BT.

· Total net effect on jobs will be a reduction of around 2,200 full-time equivalent posts by 31 March 2004.

· Decision follows extensive review and consultation with unions.

· New spend will focus on people, technology, training and working environment.

BT today (Wednesday, March 27) announced the shape of its next generation contact centre operation following an extensive review of its call centres and consultation with the unions.

BT is to spend £100 million on developing a network of 30 next-generation multi-function contact centres that will better meet the changing demands of its customers. 

As a result of an extensive review of call centres that handle the greatest volume of contacts and a month-long consultation with the unions, BT has decided to:

· create a network of 30 next-generation contact centres, on which it will spend £100m over the next two years;

· close 53 of its existing call centres during the next two years, with the majority of employees relocating to next-generation sites;

· keep open eight existing sites for up to four years before they close to allow the transition to be managed more smoothly for relatively isolated centres;

· retain a further six sites which will be used for other specialist functions, not directly related to next-generation work.

Patricia Vaz, BT Retail’s Managing Director of Customer Service, said: “We do not underestimate the impact of this transformation project and virtually everyone in our existing call centre operation will be affected in one way or another. However, we are totally committed to manage these changes sensitively and professionally, and in line with specific principles agreed with the unions."

“We value our people very highly and will be giving them all the support we can. We are committed to finding suitable alternative roles for everyone who wants to remain in BT."

“Even though this will mean upheaval for many of our people, it is a step we cannot not shy away from if we are to ensure BT’s call centre operations are kept in-house and are given the capabilities to achieve the twin goals of industry-best customer service and increased efficiency."

“We are absolutely committed to offering the best possible customer experience and ensuring we develop a call centre operation that will be truly world-class and set the standard for others to follow in Europe. This project will deliver just that - using our own people and properly-equipped centres."

Although just over 50% of existing call centre sites will close within two years, the proportional impact on job numbers will be significantly less.
Vaz said:- “In close consultation with the unions, we are exploring every possible avenue to ensure that most people can be relocated to next-generation sites which are within travelling distance. Where that is not possible, we are looking at alternative options across BT Group, including non-call centre work.”

The overall net effect on BT and agency jobs by the end of the two-year project is expected to be a reduction of around 2,200 full-time equivalent posts. This would take the number of full-time equivalent posts in BT Retail’s contact centre operation from 15,800 to around.

13,600. There will be no compulsory redundancy.   The closures will be implemented in seven, overlapping phases over the two years, with six months notice being given in all cases. The first closures are expected to happen in October. Wherever possible, closure sites where further work is needed to identify relocation or redeployment options will be left open until the latter part of the two-year programme.  The new multi-function centres will cover a range of services for residential and small business customers. This will provide greater flexibility and robust processes to ensure customers get a consistently high quality of service, irrespective of which centre they contact. They will also give the customer a greater choice of how to interact with BT. Carol Borghesi, Director of the next-generation contact centre project said: “We will be spending £100 million to ensure our people get the best training, have the best working environment and can exploit cutting-edge technology to deliver the kind of services our customers want."

“The quality of our call centres is critical to achieving our goal of being the UK’s customer service champion within two years. Creating a smaller network of leading-edge multi-function contact centres is key to making dramatic improvements to the quality of customer service."

“Every year about 10 per cent of people working in our contact centres leave by their own choice to take up positions elsewhere in company or leave BT altogether. This natural wastage, over the two-year implementation period, gives us scope and flexibility and will help with redeployment."

“In parallel with these moves, we are already implementing a raft of other initiatives to improve the standard of our service to the customer. Over the past 18 months, we have made much progress in improving the standard of service offered by our call centres. These include a 35 per cent reduction in repeat contacts, a fall of 50 per cent in the number of abandoned calls and a 10 per cent improvement in the number of calls answered promptly. But we have now reached a watershed, and, to achieve any further dramatic improvement, we have to re-appraise completely the way in which we organise and run our call centre operations."

“Everything we are currently doing and planning is geared to meeting the changing demands of the customer, while also ensuring that we maintain our commitment to our people in this period of significant transition.” 


BT Retail announced (Wednesday March 27) that four existing call centres in the North West are to be developed into next-generation sites.
The state-of-the-art multi-function centres will be in Blackburn, Lancaster, Skelmersdale and Warrington. A total of £13.5m will be spent on training, cutting-edge technology and work environment to develop the sites into world-class contact centres.
As part of the two-year project, six existing call centres will close – Crewe; Liverpool; Manchester; Edward VII Quay and North Street in Preston, and Stockport. Employees at the centres in Liverpool, Manchester and Stockport will either be redeployed to the next-generation site at Warrington or be considered for other roles. People at Crewe will be redeployed at the next-generation site in Stoke-on-Trent. Employees at the two Preston sites will relocate to the next-generation centres at either Blackburn or Skelmersdale. The number of agency people relocating will depend on the site capacities and operational requirements.
Call centres at Barrow-in-Furness and Carlisle will remain open for at least another two years but will close within four. This decision has been made to allow enough time for an effective transition in sites which are relatively isolated.
Currently, there are more than 3,100 BT and agency people employed in the 12 sites reviewed in the North West:
Barrow-in-Furness – 52 BT and 97 agency
Blackburn – 273 BT and 180 agency
Carlisle – 45 BT and 79 agency
Crewe – 41 BT and 48 agency
Lancaster – 199 BT and 27 agency
Liverpool – 211 BT and 36 agency
Manchester – 163 BT and 45 agency
Preston, Edward VII Quay – 83 BT
Preston, North Street – 52 BT and 2 agency
Skelmersdale – 144 BT
Stockport – 36 BT and 79 agency
Warrington – 644 BT and 586 agency
Skate park on a roll!
Skate Park plans revealed to the public.  'Skate' designed the park that will be situated by the swimming baths and by Safeway's Car Park.  Any one wanting to see the skaters  presenting  their plans and to air their views as to the design of the park, should go to the public consultation in the Arts Centre on Saturday.   Plans and other information will be on display from 10am to 4pm.  Everyone welcome.    Andy Williams, one of the skaters said, "We would like to thank every one for their support, with emphasis on Sefton Community Safety Fund for giving us money to build the park."
Plan of layout below with thanks to 'Skate'.
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