Up close and personal

CRM has escaped the shadow of its past failures to find favour again, says Ron Condon.

If you were a BT customer three years ago, calling the company helpline could be a long and patience-stretching experience. More than likely, you would be passed around between departments until someone was able to answer your query, if you were lucky. This was no fun for the customer, and for BT it was an expensive waste of time and effort.

Fast-forward to the present moment and the picture is completely different.

The number of BT contact centres has been cut from 104 to 33 (with two of them in India), and customers can usually talk to someone immediately capable of sorting out their problem on the spot. Quite often, they'll be able to carry out their transaction using an automated self-service system. The result is a huge rise in customer satisfaction, and BT has saved more than £150 million into the bargain.

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