Why T-Mobile Call Center Transformation Removed Remote Employees?


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  • Customer Experience Audit: Mobile Provider Eliminates Remote Workforce

    Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audits. Today’s audit looks at T-mobile customer experience. See all audits.

    When it comes to customer support, we all want the same things. We measure efficiency metrics FCR (first call resolution), average wait time and talk time. We train contact center agents to be personal and helpful.  Some of us even build incentives around goals for ancillary sales. All of this is part of our customer experience design landscape. And all of them are KPIs to watch.

    When it comes to delivering on those KPIs, customer experience professionals have a lot in common. No one has figured out how to deliver on all metrics. Often, we are happy to get one right!

    Making Customers Feel Good when They Call

    At JetBlue, the contact center is the heart. Contact Center crewmembers live the company’s mission to inspire humanity. If you want to feel what JetBlue is about, dial 1800 JetBlue. You will realize that customer experience is driven by empathy and understanding. And that is before we even train crewmembers on hospitality standards (that will happen in a few months as planned on the rollout roadmap).

    JetBlue further empowers crewmembers to be BlueHeroes – to act as citizens, protect the JetBlue brand. To do the right thing for the customer when things go wrong. This is how the brand approach contact center management.

    For T-Mobile Customer Experience, Loyalty Is Worth the Wait

    The self-described “Un-Carrier,” T-mobile customer experience takes a different approach. Two weeks ago at the Forrester conference in San Francisco, Sid Bothra shared the brand’s new strategy for call centers management.

    Instead of having frontline agents work from home, T-Mobile launched mini-call center “pods” of approximately 50 people. Each covers specific geography and has cross-functional agents. Those groups are managed as P&L centers, not only as cost centers.

    This is a completely new and risky approach. It maximizes FCR at the expense of wait and talk times. Yes, in the new world, customer calls will not be transferred a second (or third) time. With this design, the agent who knows data sits next to the network specialist and the international calls expert. The agent’s efficiency loss, however, will be substantial and it will impact both wait and call times.

    The results Sid Bothra shared were inspiring. As expected, customers now wait 2x longer (from 40 seconds to 1m-1.3m). However, NPS went up by 50%. Employee retention increased by 75%. Additionally, customer share of the wallet also increased because now, callers are more open to buying ancillary products.

    Bothra’s plan is a great example of thinking outside of the box and challenging the norm. Very few traditional call center leaders would agree with this new approach.  In the long run, though, giving employees a sense of ownership of the business is the best way to inspire excellent service and care. It sounds like T-Mobile has found one way to do just that. It is one thing to feel like a cost, a burden to a business. It is another thing to feel empowered to earn money for your company and manage profits for your investors.

    Recalibrating Goals

    There is a third view on call centers that contradicts both JetBlue’s strategy and T-Mobile’s. In his book, The Effortless Experience, Matthew Dixon states that “any customer service interaction is four times more likely to drive disloyalty than to drive loyalty.”  

    Dixon argues that efforts to make customers happy when they reach out to contact centers is not the right approach. At the point of the call, he contends, we have lost their loyalty.  Dixon recalibrates the goal of customer service to mitigate that negative impact by reducing effort. Reducing effort is more tangible to the customer and more sustainable to organizations than our current work to delight callers.

    Regardless of the approach you decide to take with call center management, I urge you to be disruptive. Even to yourself. Do not lean on the traditional models. Technology advancements are adding more tools to our toolboxes. The new workforce is looking for more meaning and impact in any job. T-Mobile addresses both of those opportunities in a creative and innovative way that has potential to differentiate them in the future.

    That could be you!

    Think Outside the Box

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