Yet there are still quieter moments - and that's when training, people insight and focus that enables the agents to do their 999 job so well gets put to good use elsewhere. Our team, because of its special training and talents, is in great demand to provide other services.
For instance, because we are a 24/7 centre, we are able to provide call centre capability for lots of different parts of BT as well as other organisations. It means that in between emergency calls, the team is flexible and knowledgeable enough to handle calls of many different kinds. These can include providing support for BT customers who have had nuisance calls or feel they may have been scammed - the agents provide advice and pass information to the police or to BT Security when appropriate.
The team also handles directory enquiries calls for other organisations – in fact, around 65% of the UK's directories calls come through to this versatile team. Once again, it's not a simple business. In these connected days, people seldom want just a telephone number when they dial directory enquiries. Our agents often really have to use their initiative. For instance, a caller recently asked if a particular business was still operating. Our agent went onto Google Earth, found a street view of the shop and saw a closing down sale notice in the window. By zooming in on a date on the poster, he was able to tell the caller when the business had closed!
That high level of initiative and ingenuity makes the Voice Services team - based at six centres across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland - a prized asset. One of the things we're proud of is our good track record of being able to learn the skills to meet a new requirement and deliver to a very high standard within a short space of time. It’s all down to the professionalism and responsiveness of the team, which are second to none.
The team feels rightly proud of its work, too, which is demonstrated by the fact that many have stayed with 999 for 10 and 20 years, with some agents having as much as 30 years of service. "When I joined Voice Services, I sat in with trained agents learning about how they take calls, and I can honestly say I couldn't do what they do. It takes a special kind of person to take 999 calls – they’re amazing".