In the past decade, mobile phones have evolved from basic devices that simply allowed you to place a call while away from home to sophisticated handheld computers with apps, HD cameras, GPS technology and sensors that detect when you’ve glanced away from the screen. To complicate matters, no two devices are alike — a reality that along with these other changes, makes it more challenging to create a positive experience for more than 45 million customers visiting T-Mobile stores or placing calls to the customer care center. Representatives have to find the answers quickly among hundreds of steps and troubleshooting flows for many different devices and provide a simple path between questions and solutions for our customers. And because T-Mobile launches between 30 and 40 devices every year (with 3-5 updates per device), questions and solutions are constantly changing.
Wireless consumers overwhelmingly base their level of satisfaction on the quality of the customer service they receive, and specifically, on the knowledge of service personnel and their ability to resolve issues quickly, according to J.D. Power. T-Mobile needed a way to deliver exceptional, prompt customer service in the complex, dynamic wireless business.
- To provide superior customer support and expedite resolution rates
- To motivate customer care and retail store representatives to make T-Mobile’s online social business community their go-to resource for answering customer questions.
Engage more than 30,000 frontline representatives so they can effectively respond to customers’ queries, even as the devices they sell and support grow more complex.
In 2011, T-Mobile created T-Community, a social platform built on Jive Software where employees fielding questions from subscribers collaborate with peers and search for knowledge-based articles to quickly find them answers. This puts the answers to virtually every technology question a customer might ask at the fingertips of their in-store personnel and call center agents.
As with all collaborative communities, effectiveness is reliant upon collective participation. Thus, in 2013, T-Mobile implemented a gamification environment from Bunchball to motivate employees to adopt the new platform as part of the initiative to continuously improve service. In the new, gamified community, T-Community members earn points and badges for searching the knowledgebase for answers, posting or answering questions, and rating answers as helpful (“likes”). A leaderboard also allows each member to compare their progress with that of their peers.
T-Community specifically motivates members to solve problems and collaborate on a peer-to-peer basis. While an administrator still maintains a close moderating presence to encourage and ensure best practices and proper usage of the tools, T-Mobile has seen support costs decrease as the community self-governs, making it more resonant and valuable to its members. Gamification endorses quality participation by rewarding users with more points when they search for answers to their questions than they would earn for simply posting yet another question about a topic that was covered in detail a few days or weeks earlier. This peer-to-peer communication and collaboration pushes T-Community, and T-Mobiles customer service, to a new level.
Despite all the learning, the queries, and the added work of adopting a new platform for customer service, T-Mobile’s average customer inquiry handling times never spiked. This is significant because it shows that even in a disruptive environment where hourly employees have to answer specific and often very difficult questions from confused and sometimes frustrated customers, T-Mobile staff was able to grasp a new platform and never miss a beat. So customers in the store get their problems resolved on the spot, and customers on the phone get the answers they need on the first call.
After implementing the gamification module into T-Community:
- Participation increased 1,000 percent in the first six weeks.
- More than 15,000 of frontline employees completed different Getting Started missions in the first two weeks — a radical departure from the typically low adoption to self-guided learnings.
- Members were so active and so quick to adopt the platform that T-Community awarded 187,000 badges in the first six weeks.
- “Likes” — those assessments of the helpfulness or accuracy of a response — increased a staggering 6,000 percent.
Most importantly, this vibrant community facilitated superior customer support. Resolution rates and customer satisfaction scores have steadily improved each month since implementing gamification.
It wasn’t long before T-Mobile realized that the gamification data was revealing information about customer needs and staff strengths that we otherwise might not have seen. By rewarding members for searching the community and the knowledge base for answers instead of calling tech support, T-Mobile could identify where many customers were having problems with a specific device or service feature — information that could help anticipate support questions and even provide feedback to manufacturers and developers to improve their products. By tracking activities such as the frequency of highly-rated answers, T-Mobile can also identify future stars within their customer service and support organization.
More to Come!
T-Community has been so successful that T-Mobile will soon be taking their next-generation customer experience directly to customers with a public version of this gamified environment aimed at engaging T-Mobile customers and promoting the peer-to-peer relationships that build value and loyalty.