BT will switch its call centre network to VoIP

British Telecommunications PLC (BT) plans to migrate its U.K. call centres to a new voice over IP (VoIP) system over the next two years, allowing around 9,700 call centre agents on 124 sites to work as one team in a single, virtual, customer contact centre.

Reaching the right person to solve a problem can be difficult in a large organization such as BT, and customers can often find their call transferred several times, each transfer obliging them to explain their problem again. BT recently promised to make it easier for customers to reach the right person, and so its call centre agents need to be able to transfer calls — and accompanying information about the customer’s identity and reason for calling — to the appropriate place.

With the new system, “We can move calls around the business to support BT’s ‘My customer promises,'” said Alf Ellis, head of BT’s internal voice solutions.

The project will take between 18 months and two years to complete, he said.

BT will spend around US$5 million on new VoIP equipment from Nortel Networks Corp., including five Nortel Communication Server 1000 systems for the main sites in England (Gatwick, Cambridge, Walsall and Bristol) and Scotland (Edinburgh), according to Nortel. The deal also includes a desktop Nortel 2004 IP phone for each of the 9,700 call centre agents and a Symposium Call Center Server, making it one of the largest virtual call centres in Europe. The equipment replaces existing Nortel equipment, including Meridian 1 PBXs and Meridian Max call centre software.

One of the challenges for the systems integrator, BT’s own Global Services division, will be to use CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) functionality to link the call centre with back-office databases of CRM (customer relationship management) applications so that agents can see, for example, the identity of the caller and the history of their account.

“BT will make use of Symposium CTI and other CTI applications” for CRM work, Ellis said. He would not identify the CRM applications BT uses.

For the call centre agents, this will be their first encounter with VOIP within BT — but the company has already used the technology at the highest levels, according to a Glynn Evans, Nortel’s account manager for BT.

“We had deployed IP Telephony at BT’s headquarters in Newgate Street, London, last year,” he said in an e-mail. That system served 2,000 employees, including BT’s executive management board.

Related Download
CanadianCIO Census 2016 Mapping Out the Innovation Agenda Sponsor: Cogeco Peer 1
CanadianCIO Census 2016 Mapping Out the Innovation Agenda
The CanadianCIO 2016 census will help you answer those questions and more. Based on detailed survey results from more than 100 senior technology leaders, the new report offers insights on issues ranging from stature and spend to challenges and the opportunities ahead.
Register Now