T-Mobile’s ‘team of experts’ pays off, says J.D. Power

T-Mobile and Verizon are pulling away from AT&T in customer care, says J.D. Power. (Getty Images)

According to surveys conducted by J.D. Power from January through June 2019, T-Mobile’s innovative push for better customer service is paying off. T-Mobile introduced its team of experts (TEX) initiative about one year ago with the goal to ensure that when a subscriber calls T-Mobile customer service, he or she gets a representative that is familiar with that customer and is part of a “team” that handles a specific region. TEX also aims to reduce the amount of time a subscriber is transferred around or put on hold.

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According to J.D. Power’s recent study, T-Mobile ranks highest in customer service with a score of 847, followed by Verizon Wireless (824) and AT&T (788). The average score for the full-service segment of wireless carriers is 806.

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Ian Greenblatt, managing director of Technology, Media & Telecommunications Intelligence at J.D. Power, said a score of 847 translates to 8.47 on a scale of 10. He said scores in the 800s are good customer service scores. “Anything over 9 is super high,” said Greenblatt. T-Mobile’s score of 847 reflected a 14-point gain compared to J.D. Power’s similar survey conducted in the last half of 2018. This means that on average, people rated T-Mobile .14 higher on all of the questions.

The 2019 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study—Volume 2 is based on surveys of 12,467 customers who contacted their carrier’s customer care department within the past three months. In addition to full service carriers, the surveys also covered full service non-contract and non-contract value carriers.

Greenblatt said when scores are in the 800s, it’s really hard to “make a giant pop.” And while he doesn’t consider a 14-point gain a giant pop, he does consider it “a good trend.”

“I don’t know that the market really understands how different the TEX program was to bring into being,” he said. “With TEX you get the same team of people every time you call. They treat customer-care like a product.”

He said TEX has been good, not only for customers, but also for T-Mobile because it’s expensive when customers have to make multiple calls to get their issues resolved. “Every time a customer calls, it costs between $7 to $12 just to answer the phone,” said Greenblatt. “It’s good to reduce the call volume, and in doing so they made it possible to personalize care.”

He said T-Mobile had to implement other initiatives to reduce the number of calls because otherwise it wouldn’t have been feasible to replace much of the automated phone system with real people.

“To get to a place where you can have a human answer the phone, you have to dramatically reduce the number of calls,” he said. “How to reduce calls? You make unassisted carrier care very good. Customers have to be able to self-help; you have a really good website. You have to make the automated phone system very good and very short.”

During the recent J.D. Power survey period, Verizon improved as well from the previous period. “T-Mobile and Verizon are pulling away from AT&T in customer care,” said Greenblatt.

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