Relay UK, previously known as Next Generation Text (NGT), is a relay service that helps people with hearing and speech difficulties communicate with anyone over the phone.
It’s the UK’s national text relay service and was established back in 1991, where it was known as TypeTalk. It was then relaunched in 2014 by BT and called Relay UK. BT still runs this for the whole population and UK landline and mobile phone providers.
The deaf person types a message which is then relayed through an operator, via voice, to the hearing person on the other line, at the contact centre.
This means that deaf people can use Relay UK to access all services, such as large businesses with contact centres, hotels, GPs or even members of their families.
To make a call using Relay UK, all the deaf person needs to do is dial 18001, followed by the number of the person that they want to call. This will automatically connect the relay service, and the operator will explain they’re a relay service and how it works.
As you can imagine, back in 1991, this service was revolutionary and enabled deaf people to access the telephone for the first time.
There is no doubt Relay UK is a real lifeline for the deaf community. You may believe that as a business, this solves many problems as it offers deaf customers a way of contacting your contact centres without any barriers.
But that’s something I would like to challenge. Just imagine this…
You are looking to renew your car insurance. You’ve followed the usual procedure of looking at price comparison websites online and found a deal you’re pleased with. You’re confident that you have entered all of the details correctly, but are very aware that if you accept the quotes and go through the process online, your insurance will no longer be valid if some of the details are incorrect.
Therefore, you decide to call the insurance provider and check that all the details are correct. No problem; you have access to Relay UK, which means you can connect to the contact centre and quickly review all of the details with them.
Things are going swimmingly, all the details you have entered online are correct, and you are ready to go ahead with your insurance quote – until you have to go through the mandatory part of the call! This is agreeing to the insurance product and business terms and conditions.
You hadn’t prepared yourself for this, and waiting for the operator to relay all the information from voice to typed text means you are on that call for a total of 1 ½ hours!
Relay UK provides a useful relay service when you simply need to make a quick telephone call or check out some basic information. But when you need to take out insurance or call your bank, there is also a range of alternative contact options that may suit that task better.
There are many other communication options that businesses can use to fall within the guidance that companies need to abide by, but without compromising that high-quality level of customer service at the same time.
The key is to understand your customer’s needs and the purpose of the call – and then find solutions that fit within that requirement.