Customer Experience

T-Mobile Bucks Automation Trend in Customer Service With Latest 'Un-carrier' Move

"Death to the IVR," was the unofficial catchphrase of the latest T-Mobile US Inc. "Un-carrier" announcement, as President and COO Mike Sievert, along with other execs, said that Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, bots and automation had helped turn service providers into some of the most hated companies in America.

And now the third-largest mobile operator in the US wants to break that down today with the launch of a human-led "Team of Experts" program that helps subscribers on the T-Mobile network.

The basic concept is simple: Each T-Mobile subscriber will have a team assigned to them to help with their customer service issues. Subscribers will be able to call, text message or schedule a call with their team at any time.

The aim is to cut the time using IVRs and being bounced between departments to answer simple queries. Sievert described this as "a massive digital fortress, designed to keep you away."

Speaking from the event held in Charleston, SC, T-Mobile CEO John Legere claimed: "This un-carrier move, by the way, is bigger than wireless." As usual, Legere says that T-Mobile is trying to drive the rest of the industry to follow T-Mobile down the same path.

The CEO claimed that the cable, Internet and telco industries are the three worst-ranked industries for customer service on a "consumer rage survey." [Ed note: Funny, you would have thought airlines and healthcare would be right up there.]

"Comcast is the most hated company in America," Legere stated. "There were 10,000 tweets last quarter that used the words: 'Comcast sucks.' "

Asked whether T-Mobile was "bucking the trend" of automation with the new strategy, Legere and others agreed, with the CEO saying they would need more employees, but that, in the end, "It's actually good for business."

Meanwhile, EVP of Customer Care Callie Field explained that the operator has been working on the Team of Experts program for a couple of years, having the teams sit together, and making call centers have more of a startup vibe -- with massage chairs and other perks -- to propagate better working conditions.

"Our employees stay longer," with 90% internal promotions, she said.

The company said each customer will have 24/7 dedicated access to a customer care team comprised of between 30 to 40 people.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
kq4ym 8/21/2018 | 1:52:08 PM
Re: Bucking the automation trend or spinning a yarn? I made a call to Amazon's Kindke customer service this week for a couple of technical issues and was surprised that the call was answered by a live person within less than two minutes, and within minutes the problems were solved. The customer service unit seemed to be overeseas by the sound of the accents heard but it was clear English and I was very pleased. Wonder if the T-Mobile folks will be able to meet this level of service?
DanJones 8/17/2018 | 11:18:17 AM
Re: Bucking the automation trend or spinning a yarn? Right? I'm not sure there will be a simple answer coming...
James_B_Crawshaw 8/16/2018 | 5:53:42 PM
Re: Bucking the automation trend or spinning a yarn? That's a really good question Dan and my limited googling has failed to get me any answer to average number of mobile subscibers per customer care agent. Any wisdom from the Light Reading community?
DanJones 8/16/2018 | 1:50:42 PM
Re: Bucking the automation trend or spinning a yarn? They're not going to ditch AI, just the IVR fortress stuff. One interesting question, how many subscribers each will a team of experts cover? A moving number I suspect...
James_B_Crawshaw 8/16/2018 | 3:21:24 AM
Bucking the automation trend or spinning a yarn? T-Mobile USA seemed to be pretty happy using AI to support customer care in Februrary. I doubt that has changed.


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