T-Mobile employee speaks up about the problems within the carrier
We don't know if all of these problems are to be associated with the typical T-Mobile store, but if that's indeed the case, we do hope that this message will be taken seriously by the company's management.
Are there any T-Mobile employees reading this? You can share your thoughts about the problems outlined here in the comments below!
And here's the full, uncut message...
"To Whom it may concern
Let me start off by saying that I am currently employed by T-Mobile and used to be able to say that I bleed magenta. Unfortunately every single day I start to dislike my job a little more. I am even starting to dread going in to work. Some background on myself, I have been in the wireless industry nearly a decade and have worked for the “big two” wireless behemoths. When I started at T-Mobile it was a refreshing change, a company that actually cared about its employees and its customers. I could see myself working my way up the corporate ladder and actually retiring with this company. I was proud of my job and thoroughly enjoyed going to work everyday. In the past eight to ten months I have noticed a drastic change. We are hemorrhaging customers and are not growing. This used to bother me and I used to take it personally when a customer had a negative experience with T-Mobile, lately I seem to care less and less. It even seems inevitable if we maintain our current path. This will hopefully be read by someone who can make a difference, this is my last ditch effort to make a change. Let me start with a relevant quote :
"Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall."
— Stephen R. Covey
Let me begin by developing the goal. The goal should be very simple. We need to acquire and retain as many customers as possible, while creating the most enjoyable work environment! I want to stress the work environment, I feel that the current leadership is creating an extremely negative work atmosphere. I can only hope this is done out of ignorance and desperation, not on purpose.
Creating a stressful and negative work environment is like a cancer. I have seen a very serious change in leadership from inspiration and doing what's right for the customer, to an iron fist and profitability. I have a firm belief that if you do what's right for the customer, they will continue to come back and they may even bring a few friends. I think they need to look to who is successful and listen to the customer to develop a strategy. Unfortunately they are not doing either.
Churn is our big drive for 2012. I whole heartily agree that we need to be focused on retaining our customers as they are what keep the lights on. Sadly they are conveying the wrong message to us “front line” employees. It feels like they are almost blaming us for no growth and high churn. While they may not intend this (I really hope not) that is the message that most of us are getting clear across the board. It feels like they keep adding more and more things for us to do with every customer. It is just insane the amount of stuff we are supposed to sell and go over as part of the “Complete Solution”. It just seems like they keep adding more and more everyday. They need to put themselves in the customers' shoes. I try and think about all of my purchasing experiences and I would not want to sit through all of the nonsense they want us to talk about.
I strongly feel that every member of the leadership team should have to work as a sales associate and follow all of these ridiculous procedures for a minimum of one full month under the same quota. They should also be followed around and micro-managed under the extremely robotic sales pitch that they make sales associates use. If they can make it through the whole month, they than need to become a retail store manager and deal with the ridiculous burden they have to carry everyday. They seem to add something to the load on retail employees daily. The worst part about it is that they forget about the new rule they added, then a few weeks down the road when they remember it they selectively and enforce said policy and then have the nerve to say this is why you're not successful.
I like to simplify things. Let's look at growth for example, specifically for the wireless industry. You have to first sell products people want (Coverage, Devices and Accessories). Seems simple enough right? You have to set a price people can afford and UNDERSTAND (Price Plans, Return Policy, Contract Agreement, Upgrade Tenure). Again a no brainer, right? Last and a little more complicated is reputation. How about keeping your customers? Or churn as the industry calls it. Again this ties back to the same principles as grown, but adds a little more depth. For churn we need to factor in customer experience and problem solving.
These all seem very straight forward and simple. You would think T-Mobile would target these specifics and help bridge the gap. They seem to take one step forward and two steps back.
They missed the boat big time on the iPhone. While I don't personally like the device and understand that some devices will do more and work better. People don't care, they want the iPhone. I understand that we will not be getting the current line up, but we cannot afford to miss the next one.
We need better coverage. Period. It seems that the majority customers I have come over from AT&T or Verizon end up switching right back. We don't have a very good reputation when it comes to coverage. It seems that a lot of customers have trouble getting signal in their house and is the main reason we get returns. We offer a lot of great solutions, wifi calling and a signal booster. Customers don't care. Period. They have heard that T-Mobile has lousy coverage and this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Our coverage is pretty good now and I personally do not have any issues, but to fix this it needs to be great. We need to talk about how great it has become and acknowledge that we had issues in the past. Market it, T-Mobile is going through an overhaul! We need to WOW people. They heard from a friend's grandma's uncle who had T-Mobile and had terrible signal. So they look for signal issues, as soon as they have any they bring it right back! They need to see that we are expanding and building our network.
When it comes to price, we need to make a decision. We need to either subsidize phones or not. I personally can understand why we shouldn't, but I don't think it will work in America. We are used to instant gratification and still do not understand that phones can cost in the upwards of $1000. Frankly we just don't care, we know we can go to any other carrier and get the iPhone for $199. They don't care that the monthly service is less expensive. They don't want to pay $600 for a phone. They should scrap the value plans because they are way too confusing for people. It also can put a bad taste in people's mouth. If they get the phone from somewhere other than a corporate store, they will get the classic plan and end up paying more. They see the advertisements of the cheaper plan and then come into a corporate store and we have to tell them they can't switch to that plan. They feel cheated and will not be resigning with T-Mobile. We need to eliminate all fees. Period. No activation or upgrade fees. One more time, WE NEED TO ELIMINATE ALL FEES! Why would we penalize a customer for joining our family, or even worse for staying with us for two more years!?!?! We should own that and advertise it!
Finally we need to make the contract reasonable and understandable. Set the early termination fee based on device cost. That is something that people can understand. For example a $600 device that someone pays $200 for will have a $400 termination fee. We should also offer some sort of termination with returning the device in decent condition to lower the fee. We need to be the fair carrier. The termination fee should also be on a sliding scale that is printed on the contract. We need to eliminate pro-rated monthly charges. We should assign their billing cycle exactly 30 days after the initial sign up. They should understand exactly what their bill will be INCLUDING TAX. Part of the contract explanation should include when they are eligible for upgrade. This should be a sliding scale that offers the ability to upgrade anytime for a reasonable cost. Every month a chunk of money comes off the device. We should offer incentives for trading in devices that we still carry, so we can refurbish it and resell.
Now that we understand the simplest ways for us to move forward, let's talk about things that do not help us. We need to make this the best place to work. We need to remove this heavy burden that us front line people seem to have to carry day in and day out. First lets talk about what we deal with on a daily basis, please have an open mind and put yourself in our shoes.
Remember this before you decide to add more to the load that we carry. We are always the bearer of bad news. I stress this again the majority of our job is to try and deliver negative information in a positive way.
We tend to get a ton of customers paying their bill. When the bill is a little more than usual we have to decipher this confusing bill that we can't even understand ourselves and try to put it in terms that the customer can. If something is incorrect, we have to call in and act as the middle man only to make it more confusing to the customer. Which leads a lot of front line employees to tell the customer that they are going to have to call care, because if we call they are going to just quote us policy and not actually make it right for the customer. Sad, but true. When they actually do call customer care they reach an outsourced representative which at this point sends the customer into a rage. They begin to count the days until their contract is up or opt to pay the early termination fee.
People often have issues with their phone. We have to try and tell them that the phone is fine and it is usually something they are doing. A lot of the times these are customers who wanted the iPhone and we told them how much better this phone would be for them which again becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. In the back of their mind they think had they gotten the iPhone none of this would have happened and they feel deceived. If there happens to be something wrong with their phone, we have to tell them that they are going to be charged $20 for a replacement or $5 if they have the insurance. They usually ask if they can get a new phone to which we have to tell them the ridiculous price the system generates even if they are one month away from a full upgrade. Worse we get the customer who damaged their phone and does not have the insurance, then decides the early termination fee is less expensive than a new phone.
These are just a few of the scenarios we have to deal with all day every day with a smile on our face. We have to deliver all of this terrible news while keeping a positive attitude and meeting our quotas for New contracts, prepaid, upgrades, accessory sales, data attachment, insurance attachment, small business activations, e-mail sign ups, ebill sign ups, easypay sign ups (auto debit bill pay), targeted offers delivered, referral customers, mobile broadband, add a lines, smart phone mix and I'm probably leaving some out. Each quota is treated like it directly threatens your job. Oh and don't do too well because that will become your new quota next month! We have to offer all these products to our customers while taking them through the “on boarding” process.
The “on boarding” process goes something like this; We ask a few discovering questions and get to know the customer. We have to look up at least three addresses and check the voice and data for each address the customer chooses. We have to make a recommendation which includes multiple lines, four accessories, insurance and a mobile broadband product. Regardless of need and there are sales pitches that go with each product. As we continue we MUST GET their email address and get them to sign up for ebill and easypay (auto debit). Again there are sales pitches for each one. We then total out the transaction and recap the entire process. This all has to be recorded onto a piece of paper called a “Right Fit Guide” which we have to go over with the customer and get initials on each and every category that we covered. Now we set up the customer's device. This involves teaching them how to use it, setting up their email, voice mail, downloading two applications and transferring their contacts. This whole process takes about an hour for the very tech savvy customer and upwards to two hours for the non-tech savvy customer.
They now have started a new Small Business campaign that we are supposed to cold call and actually go out and solicit small business customers. They give us an out of date list with a ton of wrong numbers, which makes us turn to Google and phone books to solicit customers. We aren't taught cold calling techniques or business sales, just kind of supposed to figure it out. Hopefully we will be able to hit our quota. Leave business sales to business representatives.
More often than not, stores are often running on a skeleton crew. Usually under 10 employees. I don't know if you have ever been to a Verizon or AT&T store recently but they usually have more than that on the sales floor at any given time. I am not saying we need 10 employees on the sales floor, but lets be a little more realistic. How about Retail Sales Associates help customers instead of worrying about all this other nonsense? How about hiring maybe one or two more people? Lets try and make their job a little more enjoyable. Not only are T-Mobile sales associates the lowest paid in the industry, they have more quotas and work requirements than every other carrier.
Managers not only have to do all of the above due to lack of sales associates. They also have to enforce all of these ridiculous rules and make sure they are writing up all the sales associates that are not meeting their quotas. They even have to write associates up for not filling those “Right Fit Guides” or not going over something with a customer. Managers have to put together a million different binders for each category on things that become out dated within a week that no one is even going to read.
The worst part about it all is the propaganda they churn out. They say all of these ridiculous rules are going to help keep customers. They have tons and tons of meetings about how getting a customer's email address, signing someone up on easy pay, getting someone on a higher data plan, forcing customers to buy insurance and all these other insane policies are going to reduce churn. I hate to break it to you, but having enough email addresses is not going to fix the problem. Having someone's bill come out of their checking account will not keep customers. Certainly dragging out the already long and drawn out activation process will not get customers to keep our service. They want simple, honest and a SHORT sales process.
We need to eliminate all this pressure and micro-managing put on sales associates and managers. It may create short term gains, but it always leads to long term attrition. I challenge you to interview your front line employees."
* Bold was added by PhoneArena in order to make it easier to spot the different issues that are discussed.
So, T-Mobile, do you accept this challenge?