The Head of Customer Service at O2 UK believes talk of the death of contact centres as a customer service tool is nonsense, despite outsourcing much of its capability and predicting a continued decline in calls.

Speaking at European Communications’ fifth annual customer experience seminar, Mark Gait outlined how the operator had evolved from taking one million voice calls a week in its call centres when the iPhone 4 launched to offer web chat, self serve apps and customer service via social media.

O2 is now three years into a 10-year deal it signed with outsourcing company Capita.

Gait revealed Capita operates 80 percent of contact centre functionality and web chat.

He said the arrangement had helped both commercially and operationally.

For example, Gait explained the challenges the customer service team had faced in getting investment for the contact centres.

“We were always competing with the network...it was very hard to get the capex required for new technology in the contact centres.”

Looking ahead, Gait said he expected the number of calls to the contact centre to decline by about a third over the next few years.

At the same time, O2 will continue to look at ways of evolving its social media capability.

Gait said he expected the number of such interactions to grow by 300 percent over the next year to 18 months.

“Ignore social media at your peril,” he warned.

You can watch Gait’s full presentation below.

The exec also discussed how and his company continued to top the UK regulator’s annual customer service ranking in conversation with European Communications Editor Marc Smith.

“It’s consistency...we’ve worked hard at making sure that when our customers come into the store, online or call our contact centre there is a consistent service that they have from us,” Gait said.

But he warned that things can still be made easier for customers and that they are now comparing the level of service with other telcos but with other experiences they get on the high street.

You can watch the Q&A below.

Click here to read about presentations from the event, including Turkcell, the Institute of Customer Service and Amdocs.

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