Chattanooga call center wins customer satisfaction award while shifting 95% of its staff to work from home
A year ago this week, one of the biggest call centers in Chattanooga was busy emptying most of its East Brainerd office for most of its 863 employees to work from their homes.
Within 20 days, T-Mobile shifted nearly all of its staff at its call centers in Chattanooga and 16 other U.S. cities to work from home to limit the spread of the virus. The telephone giant distributed computer desktops and other equipment for workers to do their jobs from home while continuing to respond to thousands of customer calls and service requests during an unprecedented time.
Once the work shift was accomplished, T-Mobile immediately took on another challenge in completing the merger with Sprint on April 1 to create one of the biggest mobile phone companies in the world.
Even amid the sweeping company changes, T-Mobile held its top positions for customer satisfaction among cellular carriers last year, according to the 2021 rankings by J.D. Power & Associates. For mobile network operators, T-Mobile, which calls itself the “Un-carrier,” ranked the highest for customer satisfaction with a score of 832, of 4% better than the industry-wide average score of 802. Verizon Wireless (805) ranked second. The Mobile Network Operator segment average is 802.
“We had to move really quickly when COVID-19 first hit and we were able to transition over 95% of our employees to work from home,” said Irene Page, director of customer care at the T-Mobile Chattanooga Customer Care Call Center. “We’re really agile, but we’re also a really close and tight-knit community. We love being together, celebrating and high-fiving each other. But we had to use that same collaborative approach to the way we shifted to work from home.”
The shift to at-home work changed where the work was done by T-Mobile, which has operated its call center in Chattanooga since 2006. But Page said the focus on maintaining communications among employees and with customers remains the same.
It was no small task. T-Mobile had to make hardwired infrastructure and technology systems accessible in a work-from-home setting. This required a faster rollout of a new call routing system, building up server capacity and providing VPN access to every employee.
Initially, T-Mobile’s call response times, which averaged under 90 seconds pre-pandemic, rose significantly to more than four hours in the first week of the pandemic shutdown while employees were relocated and work systems changed. T-Mobile had to move over 60,000 pieces of equipment across the country.
But Page said ultimately once the workers were in place at their remote sites and the company established new work procedures, call response times and customer interactions have returned to normal and improved in some instances.
To distribute computer desktops and other equipment for workers in Chattanooga, T-Mobile sanitized all of its equipment did equipment drive-throughs at its Chattanooga Call Center off of Lee Highway on what the company developed as Customer Delight Avenue.
“Our leaders helped put equipment in workers’ trucks and cars and greeted everyone as they came by,” Page said. “We have a really diverse and outstanding team here and we worked very hard to make this transition work last year.”
Even with workers at scattered worksites in their homes, T-Mobile, like most office employers, has used tools like Slack, WebEx and Zoom “so we can see and talk to one another and still be connected.
“I think that emphasis on staying connected with one another is what makes us unique and helps us to better connect with our customers as well,” Page said. “We’re doing what we can in a virtual world to allow workers to see one another, share time together online and get their questions answered and their needs met. For our new employees coming on, we want to immediately see and get our “team of experts” feel.”
T-Mobile has scored the Number One spot in the J.D. Power rankings 21 times, more than any other wireless provider in the history of the study.
Metro by T-Mobile scored back-to-back-to-back victories for the Best Customer Service among Mobile Virtual Network Operators. This is the 9th time Metro has taken the top spot.
This win comes on top of T-Mobile taking the top spot of the J.D. Power U.S. Business Wireless Satisfaction Study for four years in a row.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 423-757-6340.