Tuesday, September 01, 2009

BT has problems returning contact centre jobs & workforce management

It was only in July that British Telecom announced that it was returning at least 2,000 contact centre jobs back to the UK. I covered it in the post "British Telecom brings back contact centre jobs to the UK" and thought it was excellent news.

Now it seems there are problems as The Times reports that British workers are unwilling to cover the shifts that the Indian employees worked. The union is arguing that it is difficult for some employees with family commitments to change work patterns. I have a feeling this story is perhaps subject to an element of 'PR spin'. The Communications Workers Union is (I suspect) negotiating hard for its members, as it should, and BT is haggling over how much it flexibility it can get from it staff. In short, both sides are doing exactly what they should, and it will tend to look ugly until they get to an agreement.

To a certain extent these issues with shift work and agent availability are relatively familiar and have long been addressed by the call centre industry.

Whether through agent skills, or personal reasons, or employment legislation there are always restrictions on which calls which agents can take. This is why there is a lucrative industry of contact centre workforce management (WFM) software and why these products are needed in most large call centres. I've gone into the subject in some depth in the post "Workforce Management - is it only for high end call centres?" back in 2007, but it may be worth a re-visit. The point is, that with this software it is possible for BT to automate the management of some elements of their call centre changes without great cost.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Hello Alex,

Interesting blog. Would it be possible to send me your contact details so we can talk a bit about the European contact center market?

I work for one of the major players (not Cisco), and it would be nice to talk a bit about what is going on in the market. Just an informal discussion. A bit of networking, let's say.

My email is prayp -at- yahoo.com