O2 is to outsource all of its call centre operations to Capita in the face of declining customer calls.
The move will see over 3,700 jobs transferred to Capita from call centres in Bury, Glasgow, Leeds and Warrington. The operator will also offer voluntary redundancy as part of the move but insists no compulsory redundancies will be made.
The deal with Capita also sees O2 extend its existing partnership with the outsourcing giant by another 10 years to include the running and management of its call centres. Capita already has 1,800 staff handling enquiries from O2 customers.
O2 said it will also invest £31m into its digital service channels in response to a rise in customer use and a decline in calls to customer service centres. It said it is taking one million fewer calls per month compared to two years ago. As part of the changes, customers will be able to check their account details by tweeting, when a new service launches in the coming months.
The operator will also invest £19m into an overhaul of its retail stores to create an in-store experience that mirrors shopping with O2 online.
Feilim Mackle, sales and services director at O2, said: 'Soaring smartphone usage and mobile internet has fundamentally changed what people expect from customer service. Customers want a broader and more flexible way to contact companies. That’s why O2 has today announced a comprehensive plan to make sure we continue to serve our customers in new, innovative, digital ways and maintain our leadership in customer experience.
'Our customers want a seamless experience from browsing online to making a final choice in store – our commitment to invest further in our digital service channels and the overhaul of our retail stores will help us join up the dots.
'As a recognised leader in the field of using social media and online channels to talk to customers, we are taking bold steps to stay in front and to give customers increased choice to do business with us the way they want to. We are proud to have industry leading customer retention.Great customer service is part of our DNA and will continue to be.'
However, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) slammed the deal, branding the decision a ‘mistake’ and ‘betrayal of staff who have built the company’.
Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary, said: ‘People are being dispensed with in a cold accountancy exercise designed to save money. This is a betrayal of the staff who have built this company and made it successful.
‘We’re gravely concerned about the future of these jobs as how will savings be made if not through attacks on jobs and terms and conditions? These are decent jobs paying around £3 an hour more than other Capita call centre staff. A cut in pay would be bad news for the local economy in these areas and a disaster for families.
‘We have been presented with a fait accompli. There has not been and apparently won’t be any meaningful negotiation or opportunity to influence the terms of transfer or negotiate on behalf of our members. We’ve got no guarantees on the stability of jobs and terms and conditions – all we’ve been told is that this will be up to Capita. That’s not much to cling to.
'Given the gravity of this situation for our members we cannot rule out industrial action.’