Image: Adam Liversage / BT
Image: Adam Liversage / BT
A further 1,000 permanent UK jobs are to be created by telecoms giant BT as it seeks to rid itself of a reputation for poor customer service.

The company has long faced complaints about the quality of its call centres and the service they offer to consumers, driven in part by a decision to offshore thousands of jobs.

Customers have consistency complained about the poor level of English they encounter and a failure by overseas agents to understand and properly resolve issues.

Last week Chairman Sir Mike Rake told the Financial Times that poor customer service was the firm’s “Achilles heel”.

His comments came just days before research published by Ofcom confirmed deep dissatisfaction with the quality of customer service provided to broadband customers.

A separate report recently revealed BT was the most complained about pay-TV operator in the three-month period covering July to September 2015.

The UK’s highly competitive telecoms and TV markets means poor customer service threatens to undermine BT’s multi-billion pound investment in sports and TV rights by driving away customers.

To improve service levels the group has committed to answering more than 80 per cent of residential customers’ calls from within the UK by the end of 2016.

It’s also planning to retrain current staff who will each receive an extra 100 hours of training and has launched a self-service app which allows customers to check their bill and track the progress of an engineer appointment.

The jobs announced today are in addition to 1,000 roles already filled in BT’s UK contact centres. The new staff are expected to be in post by April 2017.

BT says the first place to benefit from the announcement will be Swansea where it will recruit an additional 100 advisors to add to the 50 recently hired for the site.

The rest of the jobs will be spread across the UK at BT’s other existing contact centres with locations “announced in the coming months”. Some of the posts will be filled by agency advisors who currently carry out BT work via Manpower.

Libby Barr, managing director of customer care at BT Consumer, said: “We announced in September 2015 that BT Consumer is going to answer more than 80 per cent of its customers’ calls in the UK by the end of 2016 and this means we need more people in our UK contact centres.

“We will have created 2,000 permanent UK jobs by the end of this process, including agency transfers, which is a fantastic boost for the UK economy and many regions where we are already a significant employer.

“Our advisors have recently agreed to support our investment back in the UK by voting to adopt a new work pattern to ensure we have more people available to answer calls in the UK at weekends and in the evenings.

“This demonstrates the commitment from everyone at BT to work together to improve customer service and to make things easy for our customers.”