T-Mobile Customer Service Tax: Ray Legere – This one’s for you

We all know that the wireless / mobile phone (or if you are like me and still caught in the early days: “cell phone”) carriers have really poor customer service. That’s simply a fact. But we try them out anyways, hoping to delay the day when we need to spend our valuable time and energy to dispute something that is important to us and frankly, not important to them.

And while we seek benefits, dividends really, for using the service, we really end up getting taxed at a very high rate; emotionally, hourly and financially.

I’m at that point now. I have been on the phone with T-Mobile for 2:20:37 and still have not been able to resolve my issue. Beautiful, isn’t it? It’s even better when its the middle of their day and the middle of my night and I have been funneled through the same channels over and over again. I am kind of enjoying it, because I will be using T-Mobile extensively as a case study in all my upcoming organizational leadership workshops across the globe.

And finally, I am back to a “payment supervisor”, for the second time, and I think that she has just disconnected me. I told my wife that I am going to pull an all-nighter (She groaned and went to bed, being all too familiar with my organizational nut-case antics). This is just one of those things where the more I try to get my needs met from T-Mobile, the more they end up looking absolutely ridiculous.

You’ve got to understand, at this point, I am not even in the country, and haven’t been for a while, and they’ve been charging me for a service that I never intended to be charged for (nor would it benefit me outside of the U.S.).

They’ve told me about their “strict policies” a couple of times. I think you only need to have one strict policy, Ray: Make the customer feel like the most valuable person on the planet. That’s what your industry fails to do. In fact, I would say that your industry may be more about customer demoralization than it is wireless communication services.

Now, I get that there are always two sides to a story. But really, this is the side paying for it, and in more than one way. So I thought that I might share the love, and the great service.

To be fair, they have 80% resolved the issue that they created when they set up their system to be difficult to understand and a bit manipulative in their favor to get you to use, but 80% is not why I become a customer of a company – I pay them for 100%. And that’s what I want back: 100%.

Ray Legere went public last summer and said that his industry is filled with, well, to put it lightly, “garbage” (only his word sounded more French than “garbage”, and had four letters). And Ray Legere has seemingly done a good job on the numbers for T-Mobile, but right now, I am feeling like I am one of the numbers that they are doing “one” on.

The tough part is that this issue is in most ways, not the fault of the hourly-wage folks on the phones, filing through the queues and following the call scripts and empathic listening responses. They are simply working within the confines of a system that has been set-up to perform a service, and ultimately creates a host of servants that obey its every constraint and ineffectual gate. Both employee and customer become a slave to a system that was intended to serve us, not the other way around!

And so yes, this sort of situation really does lie at the feet of senior managers within an organization, because its their system. If they claim not to know about it, then that shows you how well they are paying attention to how their company works with you and me – the customer.

Who do you want to do business with: someone focused on extracting money and market-share grabs, or someone who is sincerely showing you that they want to have a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with you?

How hard is it, to set-up a system to simply let the customer win in such a way that they absolutely love you, engage you beyond need, advocate you to others, tattoo T-Mobile on their bodies?

It’s not that hard. Right now I would give them a Net Promoter Score of about -30. And a customer effort score (how much effort the customer has to exert in order to get their needs met) of… well, let’s just say that it’s now been 2:31:45 since I began my call. And that is after several weeks of trying to get in the system.

By the way, their customer care team seems to not be operating 24/7. I’m not saying they should. I am just pointing out how much effort they are going to in order to make the customer feel good.

So, what’s the point? Well, if you want a carrier with good coverage, then we all know that it depends on where we live. But if you want to find a carrier that is working FOR YOU, then T-Mobile is simply not it. Not yet, anyways. Ray Legere seems to have set out to turn the industry on its head, but plans and coverage are not where you win in this industry. It’s with people. Make your systems as simple and as painless for customers to deal with, and you just made yourself the undisputed industry leader, entrenched, and protected by the market.

How about you – are your customers, be they business, colleagues, family or friends, paying a tax for interacting with you and trying to utilize whatever value it is you have to offer?

Are you simply following a system and wondering in frustrated circles, never really able to escape the cycle of results that you have been spinning for years?

Or have you turned everything on its head, put those that vote with their wallets in the driver seat and sought for true, long-term success and not merely short-term shareholder value?

Oh yeah, it’s now been 3:17:23. It’s time to go to bed. I’ll call back tomorrow and collect more material from T-Mobile so that MY customers will know what NOT to do.

Best,

Pt

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