BT launches damages app

BT has launched an app that enables BT engineers to photograph and record damage caused by or to BT that will enable its claims handling business BT Law to start processing a claim immediately.
The iPhone app – the brainchild of BT Law’s public liability claims team – was built by BT’s technology, service and operations (TSO) group in conjunction with BT Legal, its in-house legal team.
The app was trialled in August and officially launched in September, since when it has been downloaded over eight thousand times.
It is being used both by engineers who cause damage to customers’ property and those who spot damage to BT property.
In the former case, the app records the customer’s name and address, the cause and extent of the damage, the time and date, and the engineer’s details, which are prepopulated in the app. If the engineer sends the report direct from the site, the app gives an exact GPS location within 10 metres, or if the report is sent from elsewhere, the engineer will drop a ‘pin’ on the map to show where the damage was caused.
The details are sent to a designated central BT Law inbox, which enables someone from the Sheffield-based team to call the customer straight away to apologise and offer to resolve the damage.
Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Jill Wardle, head of the public liability claims team, which deals with claims from the public against BT, said: “If Openreach engineers accidentally cause damage – and accidents do occasionally happen – they can report it via the app. This way, at that point we know we’re at fault and we can turn the customer’s negative experience into a positive one by handling that claim quickly and helpfully.
“Before the app, reporting damage took longer. We had to investigate the claim from the customer, which meant finding out what happened from the engineer. The app allows the engineer to report the incident immediately on site and take a photo of the damage. My team gets the information accurately and quickly from the engineer, which allows us to deal with the claim from there and contact the customer.”
Wardle adds: “From a legal point of view, the photograph provides contemporaneous evidence that we could use in court if need be, if a customer reports damage in excess of the damage reported.”
The team that deals with claims for damage against BT property is led by Ann Kenny.
BT is unionised so the app had to be approved by the union and staff are now being encouraged to use it. Wardle said: “The take up has been really good, at last report there were 8340 downloads of the app. We’re very much in the stage of encouraging people to use the app and getting engineers to realise that they are not going to get in trouble if they cause damage – accidents happen by nature but we need to know about it so that we can resolve them.”
BT Law, which is wholly-owned by BT and was launched as an ABS in 2013, initially handled corporate motor claims but that has been extended to liability, employment law, and public liability claims. As well as servicing BT claims the team is revenue generating, offering an end-to-end claims service for other corporates.