Following a bumpy couple of years that have seen the business attract more negative press than positive, BT has laid out plans to mend its relationship with disgruntled customers and turn its notoriously bad customer service around with the launch of its Consumer division.
The division encompasses BT’s consumer business, as well as EE and Plusnet. The aim is to integrate its broadband, mobile and content offerings to offer “seamless connectivity” both in and out of the home for customers across the UK.
In what BT claims is a first-of-its-kind, this “convergence network” includes the launch of a number of products and services – including smart home, family plans, and new streaming partnerships with Now TV and Amazon Prime. BT will also be introducing its products to more than 620 EE stores as it looks to establish a better high street presence and become more available to customers.
Speaking at a press briefing this morning (16 May), BT Consumer’s CEO, Marc Allera, who was previously CEO at EE, said the time has come to “really start shifting the dial” and rebuild trust.
“Our customers and their expectations have moved on and we need to create a new narrative for BT and change the way people feel about the brand,” Allera said.
“We recognise that we do need to improve the service and experience for our customers, that’s what they’re telling us. The key announcements we’ve made today are the right ones to make a big shift forward in our customer experience and our trust.”
Allera said BT is “working hard” to be the first to bring 5G to the UK market – the first of many steps in its journey to create a single “smart network” by 2022 that will go beyond 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi and ultrafast broadband.
It also wants to make BT more “local and personal”, pledging that all its call centres will be based in the UK and Ireland by 2020 – something it says has been a “clear point of frustration” for consumers over the last few years.
A multi-brand strategy
Despite more closely aligning their offering, BT and EE maintain they will continue to offer very distinct brand propositions.
Speaking to Marketing Week after the event, BT’s managing director of marketing and sales, Pete Oliver, said while the marketing teams do work closely together – in the same building, in fact – they each have a “very clear view” of their brand segments, brand purpose and who they’re trying to target.
For BT, Oliver explained, the audience is generally a bit older and after a high-quality product, while EE customers tend to be younger and more focused on the latest tech.
“We operate a multi-brand strategy; when we develop our market plans, we are very much thinking about those target segments and different customer needs,” Oliver said.
“We have one media buying team so we co-ordinate how we buy media. There’s no cross-selling brands at the moment because it’s too confusing. But we are bringing innovations from both sides of the house to the other brand.”