Sustainability, stakeholders and profits
A BT case study

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Page 3: Stakeholders and sustainability

Stakeholders are individuals and groups with an interest in how an organisation is run and the results it achieves. BT has a two-way relationship with each of its main stakeholder groups.

Shareholders are the most influential group in any company. BT is convinced that the best way to create shareholder value and to add value to being a shareholder is by enhancing stakeholder value e.g. making it more worthwhile and satisfying to be a BT employee.

Maximising employee and customer satisfaction, partnering with suppliers for mutual gain, and being accountable for actions to society in general is as important as making a profit. Moreover, by addressing stakeholder expectations, BT creates shareholder value.

For most companies the three most vital stakeholder groups are customers, employees and shareholders. Here, creating stakeholder satisfaction is mutually rewarding:

1. Contented employees are more likely to be committed to creating customer satisfaction.  Every year, BT carries out research into employee attitudes and views in order to identify ways of building employee satisfaction. This occurs at several levels. For example, all managers of teams of eight or more receive individual feedback reports.

2. Discontented employees can be expensive: BT estimates that just one poorly motivated call centre adviser might reduce the company's annual profits by £300,000. In many service industries like Telecoms, a large proportion of a company's staff are customer-facing so it is of paramount importance that staff are motivated - BT could multiply that £300,000 by many tens of thousands, if it were not to take this issue seriously.

3. Over the years, BT has developed several benefits to encourage employees to take a share in their company e.g. by offering employees the option to buy shares at a discounted rate, and by allocating some of the company's profits to employees. If contented as shareholders, employees are likely to be more contented workers too.

Of course, BT is also committed to meeting its customers' needs: creating customer satisfaction remains a key business objective. Much is talked about customer satisfaction in vague terms. BT has carried out in-depth research to quantify the factors that drive customer satisfaction. As mentioned in the above example the service customers receive is critical to how satisfied they are, as it forms part of the top ranked factor. Image is also perceived as more important than the tangible factors related to products and services.

Customer satisfaction drives brand awareness leading to increased brand loyalty and ultimately increased market share. Telecoms companies like BT have to invest large amounts in technology and infrastructure. Having a higher marker share means greater financial economies of scale - the investment can be spread over a large number of customers, increasing profit per customer.

The circle of stakeholder satisfaction feeds into a final link - BT's reputation within wider society. This derives from how stakeholders perceive the company, and so this link feeds off the contentment of the three main stakeholder groups.

BT | Sustainability, stakeholders and profits