BT’s key culture lessons for award winning CX

Shanna Pedersen shares some of the key lessons CX award winner BT has learned so far on its journey to build a customer-first culture.




Image of building a customer centric culture

Back in January 2017, the CEO at the time, Gavin Patterson, committed to turning BT’s reputation around and announced that delivering a brilliant customer experience (CX) was going to form one of BT’s key strategic pillars.  In fact, our ambition was not just to become a CX market leader in telecoms, but to be a global role model for exceptional CX.

However, declaring an ambitious strategic initiative and building a customer-first culture are two very different things.  Although still on the journey, BT is now a multi-award winner in CX.

Here, I share some of the key lessons that have been instrumental to BT’s CX success so far:

Customer centric strategies

Be clear on the task: To change an organization at scale, the directive needs to be driven from the very top and reinforced through each management level through role modelling, repeat messaging, measurements and reward.  There needs to be a clear framework in place, which enables decision making at all levels of the business.  This mission needs to be reinforced at all angles.  Everyone in BT now knows that if the idea doesn’t improve CX, it isn’t the right idea.

Invest in the change: The organization itself needs to change and investments into better systems and processes need to be made.  Your colleagues and your customers need to see that the organization is not merely ‘talking the talk’, but willing to invest to make it happen.  Communication is key – always be clear how an investment or change will deliver to your top priorities.  BT’s ‘Beyond Limits’ brand relaunch, at an unprecedented rate and scale, has publicly signalled that BT is changing – with the change of logo acting as a symbol of change, not just a change of symbol.

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If you want to be brilliant for your customers, be brilliant for your people:  BT’s current CEO, Philip Jensen’s focus is on being brilliant for our customers, people and country.  BT’s people will soon be co-located in new state-of-the-art tech hubs improving collaboration, innovation and speed of delivery. Also, now everyone who works for BT is a shareholder.  These, and other initiatives, mean that BT people know they are invested in and are supported to be their best.  If you want your customers to know you care about them, show this first to your people. 

Shout out about the good stuffEveryone wants to work for an organization that they can be proud of and has a strong purpose.  After years of being quite shy about its role in the UK economy, with the new ‘Beyond Limits’ brand relaunch (the campaign touched 85 per cent of the country twice in the first week!) BT is proudly shouting about its pinnacle role in the UK – it is literally keeping the country running.  For example, BT answers 30 million 999 calls per year, will provide digital skills for 10 million people and businesses and prevents 4,000 cyber-attacks daily to keep your data safe.  If your organization is doing some great stuff – quantify it and make sure everyone knows about it.

BT is under no illusion that creating a customer first culture is easy and the tips above are not an exhaustive list of everything happening to achieve this in BT. 

However, if you make CX your priority, invest in bringing it to life, put your people at the heart of your plans and ensure that they are proud of your purpose then you will be on the way to building a customer centric culture.  If you can do this, your people will start to bring your vision to life for your customers in little ways, every single day.  And, like in BT, your customers will start telling you they can feel the change.  And that is when you know you are on to a good thing.

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