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I didn’t care about customer service until I called T-Mobile
Back in August, T-Mobile held the latest iteration of its Uncarrier events. Usually, T-Mobile announces a radical new upgrade or change to the way it operates during these events, and with this latest Uncarrier launch it did just that.
T-Mobile announced that day it would overhaul its customer support service with a new system called Team of Experts. The main aspects of this overhaul were the elimination of interactive voice response systems (otherwise known as IVR), the drastic reduction of hold times, and the rollout of the aforementioned Team of Experts — a group of knowledgeable support reps who specifically service a particular area of the country.
If this all sounds kind of dry to you, I don’t blame you: it sounded kind of dry to me when Android Authority covered the event. Now that I’ve actually experienced firsthand just how amazing Team of Experts really is, I’m singing a different tune.
No more button mashing
When you call most customer support centers, there’s usually a fair degree of IVR navigation involved. For example, the first thing you’ll likely come across is the standard “Press 1 for English” prompt. Once you’ve told the system your preferred language, it will then ask you to press another number for the department with which you want to speak: billing, sales, technical support, and so on. Then you’ll be asked which category your issue belongs in, and — maybe — finally be put on hold to talk to someone.
When I called T-Mobile support recently, this entire rigamarole is gone. After dialing 611 to connect with T-Mobile support, I didn’t have to touch my phone’s keypad at all or even say anything. Instead, an automated system simply told me what was happening and then connected me with a rep.
Granted, the automated system still takes time. There’s still an introduction from the automated system and then an explanation of what Team of Experts is and how it works, but I didn’t need to press anything or answer any questions. I just had to dial and then wait to be connected.
No more bouncing from department to department
With most customer support services, you can’t talk to one person to get all your questions answered. If you have a billing question, the first rep you talk to is going to hear your question, and then route you to the billing rep. Once there, you’ll have to re-explain your issue. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the problem solved. If they have to push you to a supervisor, you’ll have to explain the entire problem again.
If you have two unrelated questions on one call, you’re going to be on the phone for a while.
With T-Mobile’s Team of Experts, I talked to one person about multiple topics from a few different categories. I asked her a billing question, and she knew the answer right away. Then I asked her a question about a current T-Mobile phone sale, and she knew the answer to that, too. Finally, I asked her a technical question, and she put me on hold briefly to find the answer. She came back a few minutes later and gave me the correct info — no transfer needed.
Granted, I didn’t get overly technical or try to intentionally trip her up. However, she had a good grasp on all the things I needed help with and never transferred me to someone else.
No more waiting on hold or inconvenient callbacks
Even with the elimination of the IVR interface, T-Mobile support still isn’t going to immediately pick up the phone each and every time you call. However, when there is an anticipated wait time you don’t have to sit there waiting while listening to some bland indie rock. Instead, you can choose to have T-Mobile call you back.
Maybe you’ve experienced this with other support centers and think it’s not that big of a deal, but T-Mobile’s system is a little different. If there is a wait time, you can schedule T-Mobile to call you back at a precise date and time. This differs from most other systems which will just ask for your number and then call you back whenever the next rep is free. With T-Mobile, you can choose exactly when you’ll get the call.
In fact, you can skip the first step altogether by using the T-Mobile app. In the app, you can schedule the call in 15-minute intervals, allowing you to pick a precise time to get the call with zero wait time needed.
It’s not perfect, but I am impressed
Aside from still having wait times when you call, there is one other issue with this new phone system. Since you have a Team of Experts specifically assigned to your area, the team can’t be around 24/7. As such, if you call outside the normal business hours of your Team of Experts, you’ll be directed instead to the generic customer care team.
However, since your Team of Experts are working in your time zone, you would likely only be directed to generic customer care if you called in the wee hours of the morning or on a major holiday. If you can avoid those situations, you’ll almost always be connected with a member of your team.
Since my team is assigned to me, there’s a good chance when I call again I’ll get the same woman I spoke with today.
I’m a fairly self-sufficient person and don’t find myself calling a company’s customer support team very often. When I do need to call, I’m constantly frustrated with how clunky, slow, and downright irritating the call goes. T-Mobile is proving it doesn’t have to be that way.
I can only hope T-Mobile’s push with Team of Experts has the same ripple effect across the telecom industry as when it removed contracts, brought back unlimited data, and introduced customer perks like T-Mobile Tuesdays. Other U.S. carriers need a system similar to Team of Experts — in fact, all companies should have something like this. It certainly makes me want to stick with T-Mobile for the long run, and building customer loyalty is essential for any business’s success.