T-Mobile’s scheduled "Un-carrier" event on Wednesday focused on the carrier’s new “team of experts” approach to customer care, which the operator said would make it easier and less frustrating for customers to address problems and issues with their service.
The operator also said it will give customers a free year of the Pandora Plus streaming music service, as well as exclusive access to select concerts and events across the country via a new partnership with ticketing company Live Nation.
That T-Mobile’s Un-carrier event focused on customer service was a bit of a surprise to many industry observers who expected the operator to unveil its promised T-Mobile TV service. T-Mobile purchased Layer3 TV late last year and has promised to offer a “disruptive” TV service based on the acquisition. Moreover, T-Mobile has made no secret of its TV plans—the company is currently hiring a range of executives and technicians across the country to support the business.
But T-Mobile’s media event today focused almost exclusively on what the carrier described as a new and largely unique approach to customer service.
“This is and will be the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” CEO John Legere said during the event. “This is the motherlode of all pain points. … We want everybody to be treated with dignity.”
Largely detailed by Callie Field, EVP of T-Mobile’s customer care business, the operator’s new “team of experts” promises to dedicate a specific team of T-Mobile’s customer care employees to each T-Mobile customer. T-Mobile operates roughly 17 customer care centers across the country, employing a total of 10,600 customer care employees, and each of its new “team of experts” will comprise about 40 employees who will be dedicated to a specific region or market. T-Mobile's Matt Staneff explained that the number of T-Mobile customers covered by each "team of experts" will vary depending on the location and demographics of those customers -- but he said that each "team of experts" would mostly focus on a specific geographic region in order to adhere to that location's specific culture. Thus, when a T-Mobile customer calls in to the operator’s customer service operation via its 611 number, they’ll be forwarded directly to one of the members of their team.
The goal, T-Mobile’s Field explained, is to eliminate the standard Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that most large companies use to route customers to the proper representative. And, not surprisingly, T-Mobile is pointing that out in a series of ads featuring actor Rainn Wilson, who played the character Dwight Schrute on the TV show "The Office."
She added that T-Mobile customers can schedule a time to call into their customer service representatives, or can conduct conversations through the T-Mobile app or Apple’s Business Chat (that messaging functionality works through technology from LivePerson). Customers can also see the members in their "team of experts" through T-Mobile's app.
“It’s 24 hours a day, and it’s on your terms,” she said. “We’ll solve the issue and have the solution waiting for you when you come back.”
However, she added that “sometimes there’s things you can’t avoid, like wait times,” and she said that, in that case, customers can schedule a time to connect if all the members of their "team of experts" are busy. “It’s your time, not our time, that matters.”
Staneff added that T-Mobile in the first quarter will add an international component to its "team of experts." He said the company already employs customer care representatives overseas to provide customer service during the night, and he said those employees would be added to a "team of experts" in the first quarter.
T-Mobile said that it has been testing the “team of experts” approach and that it has resulted in a 56% increase in its Net Promoter Score (NPS), a rating of how likely a customer might recommend a service.
T-Mobile also said it will focus on its “team of experts” employees results in happier employees. The operator said that turnover in its care team is down 48% in the last three years, and the company has an 90% internal promotion rate in customer care. Staneff said that each "team of experts" works in the same customer care facility, often immediately next to each other.
Pandora and Live Nation
Perhaps more interesting though is T-Mobile’s new deals with Pandora and Live Nation, which work through the T-Mobile Tuesdays app. The operator’s Pandora Plus offer, which is available for the next year, essentially stands as a response from T-Mobile to similar offers by its rivals. For example, AT&T customers can choose to get a subscription to Amazon Music, while Sprint offers all its customers a subscription to the Tidal streaming music service. And Verizon recently announced that its customers can get six months free of the Apple Music streaming service.
But T-Mobile’s Live Nation deal is notable in that it appears to be unique in the wireless industry (though AT&T did announce a deal with Live Nation for exclusive tickets). First, T-Mobile said it will offer $25 tickets to acts like Wiz Khalifa & Rae Sremmurd, Niall Horan and Counting Crows. But the operator also said its customers will get access to exclusive tickets to select shows and reserved seats, as well as:
- fast-lane entry;
- exclusive concessions: “T-Mobile customers can snag a Signature Magenta Cocktail available at select locations,” the operator said;
- and “Magenta Lawn Chairs. T-Mobile customers get lawn chairs for free, so they can watch in style at no extra cost, while supplies last.”
Staneff explained though that many of the unique perks to the Live Nation offering will only be available in the 41 amphitheaters owned by that company around the country. He did say though that the lawn chairs, cocktails and other trappings would be branded with T-Mobile's magenta colors.
Article updated Aug. 15 and then again on Aug. 16 with additional information.