BT customer service taking direct hit from climate change

The effects of climate change are restricting BT from further improving its customer service, according to the company's chief sustainability officer Niall Dunne.

During a media briefing held at the launch of BT’s new carbon reducing strategy, Dunne explained that the company is being directly affected by climate change, and therefore makes tackling the issue particularly crucial.

Dunne said that BT had improved its customer service over the years and that the only reason it had not progressed further was due to the effects of climate change.

“All the faults of the networks that we are seeing across the UK are down to weather related issues, so it is no longer a case of the right processes and being a ‘customercentric’ organisation; it is climate change literally washing through our network,” he said.

Dunne added: “The kind of things we are having to do is actually plan our network based on what flood planes could be like in 50 to 100 years because otherwise that shows up as a customer service nightmare.”

Dunne made the comments during the launch of BT’s carbon programme, which aims to ensure that for every one tonne of carbon it can reduce in its own operations, its customers will cut three.

The telecommunications giant, which has been ranked as the number one British company for carbon reporting in the UK, has reduced its carbon emissions by 80% since 1996/97, achieving the target three years ahead of schedule and saving the business about £33m a year.

To improve on this, BT is now attempting to help customers cut carbon by encouraging the use of its services such as video conferencing, which can cut out emissions related to business travel.

Called the Net Good programme, the carbon abatement methodology was reviewed and refined by The Carbon Trust and researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

BT says it is open to sharing its latest methodology with other businesses and industries to help them improve on their own carbon abatement programmes.

As part of the company’s Better Future sustainability programme, BT says Net Good offers a new focus of using BT’s technology and expertise to have an overall net positive effect.

BT’s chief executive Ian Livingston added: “Proud as we are of our own record, doing less environmental damage is no longer enough.

“We are moving beyond simply making our own business more resource-efficient to using products and services to help our customers do the same.

“Communication technology has a significant role in helping create a better future by enabling businesses and individuals to use resources efficiently.”

Conor McGlone

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