T-Mobile has set its “Un-carrier” sights on what it calls the broken customer service process.
T-Mobile today said it is expanding its “Team of Experts” customer service model nationwide. The service, which T-Mobile has been testing for two years, assigns blocks of customers in the same area to a group of 30 to 40 dedicated employees that sit together at a specific call center and have a lot more authority to deal with issues than the typical customer service rep.
“Customer service is totally and completely broken, not just in wireless but everywhere in service industries, and the way it is trying to be solved is the wrong way,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said at an Un-carrier event in South Carolina to introduce Team of Experts.
By having dedicated customer service reps, T-Mobile says the program eliminates the painful process of being routed to a random person for every call and bounced around through transfers. Reps are held accountable as well as compensated based on how happy their customer group is with the experience.
T-Mobile President and COO Mike Sievert said the company’s model eschews chatbots and the Interactive Voice Response menus that have customers mashing buttons to navigate through the service maze. Sievert said most companies today utilize a model focused on “call deflection,” that tries to bat customers away.
“We’re getting rid of the old broken customer service model that has frustrated people for decades,” Sievert said. “Instead of investing in avoiding customers, we are investing in serving customers.”
T-Mobile wants its service model to work on the customer’s terms. Customers can contact their team via call, text message, the T-Mobile app and soon through Amazon Echo or Google Home voice commands. Instead of sitting on hold forever, T-Mobile says customers can actually schedule a time for the company to call them.
T-Mobile wants to make Team of Experts a best practice in customer service, and executives repeatedly implored both its wireless rivals and companies in other industries to come learn about the process.
“This is worth it for the business result, it’s worth it for the employees, and it’s worth it for your customers, so we hope that you join us,” said Callie Field, executive vice president for customer care at T-Mobile.
The Team of Experts test dates back years and started with a small team of about 20 customer service reps in Albuquerque, N.M., T-Mobile Chief Commercial Officer Matt Staneff said in an interview with GeekWire. T-Mobile wanted to find a better way to personalize the customer service model and make it easier to connect customers and employees.
The test eventually expanded to a handful of call centers to see if teams could replicate the results. T-Mobile has 230 customer service teams, and 14,000 total call center employees now implementing the national expansion of the program.
T-Mobile wouldn’t say how many customers are serviced by each Team of Experts, but Staneff put in the ball park of 10s of thousands. By having a local connection, customer service teams get a sense of what the common issues and complaints are in a region, allowing T-Mobile to make adjustments.
The Team of Experts announcement fell under a broader theme of “rockstar status for every customer.” Taking the theme a little more literally, T-Mobile is offering the premium version of Pandora for free for a year. This move follows T-Mobile’s playbook of teaming up with established companies like Netflix to add some extra perks to its wireless plans.
T-Mobile is also teaming up with Live Nation for a series of benefits for its customers, such as cheap reserved seats available even if a show has sold out and a fast lane entry line at numerous venues.
T-Mobile executives unveiled Team of Experts and other news at the event which streamed on YouTube: