According to Bloomberg
, the bloom is off the rose as far as T-Mobile's customer service is concerned. The wire service noted that the merger with Sprint was supposed to help T-Mobile
do what it does best: bring relief to customer pain points. Instead, it says that T-Mobile's customer service has been falling down on the job.
You might recall that T-Mobile was dead last among the four major U.S. carriers in just about every category that a wireless provider could be measured in until John Legere was named CEO in September 2012. Legere continued to hammer home the idea that T-Mobile was solving consumer pain points and this "customer-first" attitude meshed well with the executive's often hilarious attacks on the competition.
Customer service was a major focus for T-Mobile during the John Legere era
Additionally, Legere seemed to know about phones making him one of us
. You couldn't imagine the CEO of Verizon reaching out to customers the way Legere did. And soon he had T-Mobile on a roll. While Verizon
were slowly building their 5G network around mmWave signals that only travel short distances, T-Mobile shrewdly went after Sprint to grab the latter's 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum that has turned out to be the major reason why most experts say that the carrier is the top 5G provider in the states.
Under former T-Mobile CEO John Legere, T-Mobile became the second largest wireless firm in the states
One of the customer pain points that Legere focused on before leaving T-Mobile was customer service. In 2018 he announced the Team of Experts promising that the days of being placed on hold and stuck listening to Muzak, automated menus, and robots were over. Initially, the move looked like a success with T-Mobile's customer satisfaction rating (Net Promoter Score) up 60% since the Team of Experts launch to hit an all-time high. Customers took to texting the carrier with their questions and turnover dropped by 48%.
But Bloomberg reports that the wireless provider's market share gains are slowing and since the merger with Sprint closed on April 1, 2020, its customer service scores started to slip from the "considerably higher" rating that customers gave the company for several years. In October, Consumer Reports
wrote that T-Mobile "slipped from above average to just average," and a survey by American Consumer Satisfaction Index showed T-Mobile fell from being best to worst among the three major stateside carriers.
Bloomberg points out that the annoying things that T-Mobile's rivals did to garner low customer service scores are things that T-Mobile is doing itself according to interviews that Bloomberg had with consumers and from reading social media posts. Callers were placed on long holds and when their calls were picked up, the voice on the other end was speaking from a call center out of the country.
Problems, once resolved quickly, were now dragging on. And even long-term customers were losing patience. One tweet, written by a now-former T-Mobile customer
, said, "your poor customer service and network decline forced an 8 year customer to move 8 lines to @Verizon. Since the merger with Sprint and the new CEO taking over, the company now resembles the old awful sprint (sic). Nice work."
A former T-Mobile employee named Carlos Recinos
tweeted, "As an ex-employee for the company I can say that is sad to see what happened to T-Mobile but it was expected. When you say your focus is customer experience but you chase the dollar (merger), you will pay the consequences. They were doing great but dropped the ball."
Even though T-Mobile still topped the latest J.D. Power wireless phone survey with a score of 819, that tally was down 33 points from their tally from last year and its decline was the largest among the three major U.S. carriers.
In March, T-Mobile promoted Callie Field to the job of chief customer experience officer. Field blames the Sprint acquisition and the pandemic for the breakdown in customer service. Talking about the pandemic she said, "It had a bigger impact than I anticipated. We lost a lot of our staff." J.D. Power's Ian Greenblatt, managing director of technology, media, and telecommunications, said, "T-Mobile might be the victim of its own successful marketing, of setting a tremendously high expectation."
Former T-Mobile rep says that the company's focus moved from customers to money after the Sprint merger closed"
The rise and fall of T-Mobile's customer service is summed up by Diana Cordoba, a former salesperson who worked for the carrier in Orlando, Florida. She mentions how Legere's "Un-carrier" branding would get reps in the store excited. Working at the store was so much fun, she says, that some of her friends joined her at that location. But along came the Sprint deal and Cordoba says, "They stopped putting their customers and employees first and started caring only about money like every other corporation."
Former long time T-Mobile subscriber leaves for Verizon
Legere's successor, Mike Sievert, told Bloomberg in an email, "We are delivering the best service in this industry by any objective measure. The combination with Sprint isn't hurting the elements that made the company stand out before. Our culture is a big part of what differentiates us and it’s thriving and growing through a merger and a pandemic."