Barclays and BT Wi-fi start banking revolution

Demand for wi-fi access in public spaces is soaring, making in-branch wi-fi high on customers’ lists. At Barclays, employees at every level understood this need, but our involvement was especially exciting for those who work one-on-one with customers everyday. We worked together on a fast-track project to launch BarclaysFreeWifi; this innovation has revolutionised customer experience and staff-customer relations. And, it is a sign that the recent economic difficulties are now a thing of the past.

Barclays’ needs

  • Meet the soaring demand for public access wi-fi
  • To improve staff-customer relations
  • Showcase their innovative approach to banking
  • Stay ahead of competition

BT Wi-fi’s solution

  • Put customer service innovation into the hands of employees
  • Create a Barclays-branded wi-fi service
  • Do everything from installation to long-term support
  • Provide the connection for an interactive experience

Times have been tough for British banks over the past few years, but as things have begun to settle, the importance of retail banking has been put in the spotlight — so banks needed to start investing in their customer experience.

This is something Barclays recognised. With their innovative approach to banking, finding new ways to meet customer needs was a priority. And what do customers need? Secure, reliable wi-fi at their fingertips.

‘‘[The wi-fi rollout] was about us being first for our customers with something we felt was really important.’’ Barnaby Davis, MD of Barclays’ UK Branch Network

As a longstanding strategic partner BT have a great relationship with Barclays and we were in a good position to help them bring their plans to life.

We proposed a white label service: wi-fi provided by BT Wi-fi, branded as BarclaysFreeWifi. The connection setup was kept simple with no form-filling or elaborate logins, all customers had to do was accept the T&Cs. Barclays piloted the service in three high-street branches, before introducing the network in 1,600 branches across the UK — in six months.

‘‘The feedback from both customers and colleagues was terrific. This was a unique opportunity for us.’’ Peter Josse, co-head of Infrastructure at Barclays

One of our BT Wi-fi project managers devised the game plan: install the full wi-fi service at each branch in a single visit. The team of hardware suppliers, cabling installers and Barclays’ IT department worked together to set up cabling, router, wireless access points and broadband connections in one fell swoop. At the project’s peak more than 25 branches were connected every day.

‘‘The speed of the rollout was incredible. Between November ’12 and April ’13 we had 99% of the rollout into the 1,600 branches. Before you knew it, the majority of our branches had free wi-fi. It was a phenomenal pace of change, and really impressively done.’’ Barnaby Davis

BarclaysFreeWifi engaged customers immediately — while the project was implemented, wireless session numbers went up by 33% a month for six months straight.

‘‘Usage climbed to 400,000 wi-fi sessions and more that 25 million wi-fi minutes a month, and it’s still steeply rising.’’ Peter Josse

Branch wi-fi put customer service innovation into the hands of employees — literally. Staff were given iPads, enabling them to help customers and demonstrate online apps anywhere in the branch, in a much more personable and engaging way. And wireless innovations continue to be central to Barclays’ customer services plans.

‘‘The demise of the branch has been predicated for 20 years or more, but today we’re busier than ever. I see smartphones as the remote control not just for people’s personal lives but for their banking relationships too. Customers’ mobile devices and our wireless enablement will be an increasingly powerful combination.’’ Barnaby Davis

Barclays estimate the BarclaysFreeWifi rollout has put them at least nine months ahead of the market. That advantage means they can develop truly innovative business models based on first-hand experience of an entirely new world.