How BT Enterprise and Blue Sky won a ICS Customer Satisfaction Award

The great engagement turnaround: How BT Enterprise and Blue Sky won a coveted ICS Customer Satisfaction award

The Blue Sky team is thrilled to have picked up a prestigious award for Customer Feedback Strategy at the ICS UK Customer Satisfaction awards with our client, BT Enterprise. Rupert Leyland, Sales Director at Blue Sky, shares the journey behind their success.

The leaders of BT Enterprise Customer Service were ready for change.

Serious change.

Faced with rapidly shifting customer expectations and repeatedly poor NPS performance, they knew they needed to do something radical to turn around their customer experience. They also knew – in light of recent studies showing that engaged employees deliver 20% more productivity – that the key to success lay in harnessing the passion and skill of their people. But they soon realised that a quick front-line training programme or a shiny new piece of software just wasn’t going to be enough.

The sort of change the BT Enterprise team needed would require a transformation in people’s mindsets, as well as behaviour and a shift in organisational focus from process to human beings. It would demand a commitment from everyone in the organisation to put the customer first, whatever their role. And it would call for a suite of smart tools powerful enough to support a journey from near-bottom in the rankings to top of the charts.

What BT Enterprise really needed was Great Conversations – which was exactly the title given to their  cultural transformation programme, designed and co-delivered by Blue Sky. Built around the company’s newly created brand values (Personal. Simple. Brilliant.), this three-year, leader-led project involving nearly 7,000 employees represented a big and courageous investment. However, having already enjoyed a successful long-term relationship with Blue Sky – and unwilling to risk ever more defecting customers and disengaged employees – BT Enterprise’s leadership team were ready to take the leap.

Accredited with the ICS Training Mark, Great Conversations went on to drive truly award-worthy results. Outcomes included:

  • a 34% uplift in sales order value;
  • a 36 point increase in interaction NPS scores;
  • a 22 point increase in relationship NPS;
  • a 9% increase in employee satisfaction;
  • and, to top it all, a staggering 40% reduction in Ofcom complaints.

For the first time, customer feedback wasn’t something to be afraid of, or a bunch of depressing numbers that circulated on a chart. It was the beating heart of BT Enterprise’s approach, shaping what they did and how they did it, moment to moment, on the ground.

But how did the programme actually work? And what can other organisations learn from BT Enterprise’s own journey? Here are our top three transferable insights:

  1. Get your story straight

BT Enterprise’s Managing Director of Customer Service set us three big objectives:

  • to deliver brilliant customer outcomes – while generating sales order value by adding value at every customer touchpoint;
  • to be NPS market leading by 2021; and
  • to drive an uplift in employee engagement.

We knew that the first step to achieving them was to articulate a Compelling Story for the change. Whether you call it your vision, your ‘North Star’ or your ‘Why’ (a la Simon Sinek) , the important thing is to have a narrative for change that your whole organisation understands, buys into and can get passionate about. It’s the engine behind all the work to come and without it, your transformation will stutter to a halt.

So we co-created a Compelling Story booklet with BT Enterprise and filmed their senior leadership team evangelising about it. The story was then spread to first and second line managers through a series of launch events, igniting their own enthusiasm and influence.

  1. Change the climate

Our deep-dive diagnostic activity revealed that there was reluctance among BT’s front line teams to think in terms of adding value at every customer touchpoint. Getting them to understand the importance of sharing other products and services when they were hired as service people was no mean feat. One advisor summed up the general mood: “I’ve been working here for 22 years and no one’s ever told me I have to do anything differently”.

With legacy mindsets and ingrained behaviours in place, we knew that top-down directives would be useless. Instead, we designed a bespoke managers’ toolkit, built around the 9 things leaders do in best for service companies and including a series of 28 in-the-moment coaching cards. This equipped front-line leaders with practical ways to reassure, inspire and empower their people to adopt new ways of thinking and working. Rather than trying to strong-arm individuals, they began to foster an all-pervasive culture of curiosity, accountability and excitement for the new customer-centric approach; leaders were seen to influence their teams rather than dictating to them, role-modelling the change they wanted to see – and it worked.

  1. Hack the conversation

If we wanted to transform everyone in the business into a top performer, we needed to know exactly what elevated BT’s current high achievers above the rest. So, using Blue Sky’s Conversation Analytics framework, we identified the specific mindsets and skills that really worked to move the dial. Then we mapped out a blueprint for all coaching activity, combining the three most important mindsets for BT Enterprise (Curious, Accountable and Brave) with nine crucial advisor skills.

However, humans are not robots, and customer conversations cannot simply be pre-programmed. That’s where permission came in. We ensured that the greatest possible levels of permission were established within teams, so that advisors felt free to flex and personalise their interactions, breaking out of cast-iron process to make decisions in the moment based on what would bring each individual customer the most value. By telling and sharing stories of effective permission and celebrating the subsequent feedback (“it feels like we’re dealing with a new and improved BT”), advisors soon felt a new sense of ownership over, and excitement for, the company’s skyrocketing success.


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