The moves, which include a return of BT to Britain’s shopping streets, come as part of a £350 million ramp-up of capital expenditure signalled by new chief executive Philip Jansen.
BT said it was hiring 900 “home-tech experts” to troubleshoot and advise customers on the digital technology in their homes, from products like Amazon Alexa to internet-connected fridges and burglar alarms.
“In the next few years, people will be going from having five connected devices in their homes to 100. It’s mind boggling, and people will need help managing that complexity,” said Jansen, who has accepted poor customer service is one of BT’s biggest problems.
He said BT wanted to move towards a position where it could produce a range of compatible devices from BT or a recommended list of suppliers, to make homes less complicated. The group’s 600 shops used by its EE mobiles division will now be co-branded with BT and offer services and sales to BT customers.
It comes a day after Vodafone said it would be closing 1000 of its stores across Europe.
Jansen said the retail move marked a commitment to Britain’s troubled High Streets, which have seen scores of closures. He said putting more services into the existing chain would help safeguard them against further declines in High Street shopping trends. “Retail is tough,” he admitted.
He also pledged to have 100% of customers’ calls being answered by UK call centres staff by the end of the year.
Other initiatives include the launch of products offering unlimited voice, data and 5G under a new brand, BT Halo, extending the BT brand into mobile. Halo will also be launched for businesses.
BT said it had stockpiled enough devices such as the BT Home hub router to last several months in case of disruption from a no-deal Brexit.