T-Mobile enlivens its customer service

Company ‘enlisting real people to answer customer calls…’

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” After many years of soft drink evolution from sugar to artificial sweeteners of many types, product manufacturers are again touting “real sugar” in their concoctions.

It appears the same is happening in customer service, at least at T-Mobile. After many years of increasingly automated customer service throughout the land, AdWeek reported on a radical change at the nation’s cell carrier. The story notes, “T-Mobile Wants to Eradicate ‘Customer Service Hell,’ Create a Better Experience for All…Company is investing in and touting its customer service…T-Mobile is on a mission to improve customer service. The company is revamping the way it cares for customers, enlisting real people to answer customer calls and messages—rather than the typical interactive voice response (IVR) system—to give its customers what it believes will be a simpler, faster response to issues, with the hopes that other companies will also adopt T-Mobile’s approach.”

Uh, okay, while most of the world is trying to cut costs and enhance efficiency with artificial intelligence-based systems, T-Mobile appears to be taking a decidedly different direction—at least in some areas. They’re going back to the way it used to be. Why?

Perhaps their research has revealed a strong consumer preference for, wait for it, REAL PEOPLE, just like in the good old days. As a T-Mobile subscriber, I just called them and was given the option of using the automated service or waiting for a support rep. Yippee! As consumers, we should have a choice—and this is a good one. It combines the best of technology and people power.

Those accustomed to, and preferring, automated systems can get their needs met. Those craving real-live human interactions can get their needs met, too. This makes for good policy, and provides the company a robust platform from which to promote its customer-centric policies.

Interestingly, Amazon—known for quick, easy ordering through its online platform—still provides immediate live-rep customer service (if you can locate the contact phone number). It asks you for a callback number, and typically within 10 seconds or so, you’re getting a return call from someone instead of “something.”

And once you’re connected, Amazon’s crack customer service team generally offers support above and beyond. Time will tell how well T-Mobile does in this arena. But, if previous experience is any indication, they will do a good job. Unlike my previous carrier, Verizon, which often came across as providing lip service, T-Mobile reps seem to be genuinely interested in helping. This could just be good training to come across as sincere, or a good attitude—or both.

Amid all the reports promoting the latest and greatest in artificial intelligence-based customer service, it’s refreshing to see a major company using common sense and giving ALL the people what they want—a choice of ways to communicate that include both automated and “in-person” options.

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Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. He is the author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage. AKA The Happy Curmudgeon, Mark is the owner of a 35-year-old, Denver-based marketing communications firm.

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