Today’s consumers expect more from brands than ever before. And across industries like communications, competition for consumer attention is fierce.
Customers want relevant, perfectly-timed engagements that add value to their lives and show that brands understand their needs. Data shows that 71% of consumers expect personalized interactions and that 76% of them feel frustrated when they don’t get it.
The team at T-Mobile intimately understood this need for customer centricity and set out on a journey to transform the customer experience that ultimately left their customers happier, their employees more knowledgeable, and customer experiences hyper-personalized for each interaction. But to understand how, you also need to understand their goals, challenges, and triumphs along the way. Speaking with Marty Hicks, VP of Consumer Strategy and Planning at T-Mobile, our Pega World audience was given a unique “behind the scenes” look into how T-Mobile has succeeded at putting their customers at the center of their business.
Putting customers at the center with the “Un-Carrier Philosophy”
A major key to T-Mobile’s success has been their “Un-Carrier Philosophy.” As Marty explained, the philosophy encompasses listening to customers, figuring out what’s broken, fixing it, and providing customers engagements that matters to them, when it matters most. In other words, their goal is to give customers the experiences they deserve by putting them at the center of everything their frontline workers do.
It took about 10 years to fully see the impact this philosophy would have at their business. But over that time, Marty and her team was able to change the perception of how a call center functions, turning their division into a “profit center” instead of a “cost center.”
Through the process, they also changed how their call center’s function – from a series of siloed departments into a unified “Team of Experts.”
“Usually, in a customer service organization, you have reps that are specializing in troubleshooting, reps that are specializing in billing, and reps that are specializing in customer retention. And you get transferred from person to person as you move through. Well, we looked at it as an opportunity to reinvent customer service [by putting customers at the center].”
Hyper-personalizing through Next Best Action
Once the goal posts were set, T-Mobile shifted their focus to hyper-personalization. While keeping customers at the center makes the process of a customer call simpler, they still wanted to make an impact on each customer interaction. And because they have millions of customers, they needed the solution to be scalable.
This is where Customer Decision Hub helped their transformation – Pega’s AI is able to identify unique customer needs, context, and preferences in real time (under 200 milliseconds). This speed and scalability enabled T-Mobile e to fuse their “Un-Carrier Philosophy” into how they programmed the department. Based on the signals a customer generates as the interact, Pega’s Customer Decision Hub uses next-best-action capabilities to help deliver the exact right information to the customer at the exact right time, in the best possible channel.
On top of that, Next Best Action can also highlight potential issues that the customer might not be aware of, allowing T-Mobile employees to change the trajectory of the relationship, preventing future decisions that might take value away from the customer and business.
Seeing and hearing the results, firsthand
Marty was quick to point out that the rollout of Next Best Action wasn’t easy. They made mistakes, and the team iterated with each adjustment. But as the team and AI learned from each interaction, they exponentially improved until they were able to scale the solution across all call centers. By the time their 5G network launched, Next Best Action served a major role in their growth and success. Now, 10 years into their “Un-Carrier Philosophy,” the results speak for themselves.
“One of my favorite quotes from a customer impacted by Next Best Action said, ‘I feel like T-Mobile knows me’ - and that is essentially what we want. We want to know them. We want our engagements to be relevant.”
But beyond customer feedback, the success of Next Best Action is also reflected in performance metrics across team members and call centers. Marty noted one call center that had been struggling before is now top of their region after implementing Next Best Action. Net Promoter Scores also increased by an average of 8 points.
As for the value it has brought the business, Marty highlighted the increased value through added lines, deeper customer relationships, better customer retention, and a massive growth in their customer base. As of 2022, T-Mobile has over 109 million customers and is now the second largest wireless network carrier in the U.S.
Where T-Mobile is going next
With the success seen in their call centers, Marty hopes that T-Mobile expands Pega’s AI capabilities into other areas.
“We are excited, as a team, to say: What have we learned in this iteration? How do we scale it out to multiple channels? to our retail channel? How do we partner with the digital team to bring it to life? Because ultimately, when the customer is at the center of everything, you want to ensure that … they are seeing things that are personalized to them, not just to a broad swathe of customers. And so I'm excited for what's possible as we move forward.”
Overall, the resounding success of T-Mobile’s “Un-Carrier Philosophy” and partnership with Pega shows that putting people at the center of your business pays off in unexpected ways.
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