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T- Mobile: Jive Frees Customer Service And Sales From IT

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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T-Mobile explains how Jive helps it communicate internally and externally to boost customer service and compete in competitive US market – away from IT

T-Mobile USA prides itself on being the “un-carrier” – a moniker it adopted a few years ago when it abandoned industry standard 24-month contracts, and decided to focus on customer service in the belief the US mobile sector suffered a bad reputation among consumers

With operators challenging each other price, coverage and network capability, customer service has emerged as a key differentiator in competitive markets.

T-Mobile, led by colourful CEO John Legere, has 63 million customers and 45,000 employees. That’s a lot of people to interact with, internally and externally, and is why it turned to Jive a few years ago, first as a Jive-n user for internal collaboration and later as a jive-x user for external communication with customers.

Read More: Can AI Powered Call Centres Improve Telecoms Customer Service?

Customer improvement

John Legere T-Mobile USA CEOBefore Jive, T-Mobile used a ‘static’ content management system (CMS) to get information to sales assistants in its stores and call centre employees dealing with queries.

The Jive-powered ‘T-Community’ replaced 15 separate platforms and serves as a central repository for product and service information, prices, policies and troubleshooting formation for devices. The number of publishing steps was reduced from 36 to 2 and the time it took to change content was reduced from two weeks to a single day.

This ability to rapidly disperse information throughout the company about the latest devices and offers, can lead to greater customer satisfaction and more sales. T-Mobile’s retail stores are now tablet-first environments, allowing sales assistants to access this information instantly.

Since Jive-n’s introduction, T-Mobile claims the amount of time staff have spent managing content has been reduced by 70 percent, saving $8m (£5.6m), while call centre conversations have become shorter, saving an estimated $3m (£2.1m) at the time of implementation.

“We’ve been winning awards, winning millions of customers every quarter,” Will Rose, senior manager of software development at T-Mobile told TechWeekEurope.

“With our older systems, pre-2010, we had to rely on IT to publish. They thought no one on our side could use HTML, so we had this convoluted process where we sent Word documents to them and had to wait two weeks.

‘Free ourselves from IT’

“One of the great things about Jive has allowed us to free ourselves from IT. T-Mobile has been pretty slow with adopting new technologies,” said Rose. “Until recently we were still using SharePoint 2007. A few years ago, we were still using Internet Explorer 8.”

Although the customer service team have had their fair share of frustrations in the past, both Rose and Muscato said there was great respect for what the IT department does at the company given the challenges of running a major mobile phone operator.

Rose said his many companies and IT departments face similar challenges, so the more his team can do to self-serve and be less of a burden, the better.

“There’s definitely respect for the IT department,” he added. “The scope of what they do and what they protect people from is vast. I’m not logging into my computer without IT. It’s give and take. I think we’ve a good partnership with them. We rely on IT, they’re happy with our ownership of this.”

“I think IT departments get stuck in process because they’re not always responsible for serving the end user,” added Mike Muscato. “They want to make sure they serve their own customer so they’re safe in their area of accountability.

“[Jive] allows us to be both the system owner and process owner,” he added, noting his team had the full support of IT. “It allows us to take those risks.”

Looking good

T-Mobile USA store HoustonOne of the main reasons T-Mobile selected Jive was because it could be customised as the operator wanted an internal community that looked as good as a sales or marketing site.

“We don’t build applications in a traditional sense, but we customise the crap out of it,” said Rose. “The platform allows us what we want to do and if it doesn’t come out of the box, we’ve managed to build it.”

Following the success of the internal community, T-Mobile looked to create an external community using Jive-x where customers could access this content themselves. Articles, documents, videos, how-to guides can be accessed with a single search query. If customers are unable to find an answer for their question, they can ask other members of the community or a T-Mobile employee.

Since its introduction, the community now has more than 700,000 users and T-Mobile says it has contributed to higher customer satisfaction ratings.

Future of Jive

But what does Jive not do and where could it improve?

“From a more technical development standpoint, maybe easier integration with custom data systems,” answered Muscato. “I think it would be neat for Jive to implement a way to track and store small amounts of data.”

Integrated forms is also on T-Mobile’s wish list and there are also plans to integrate Jive deeper into the operator’s systems, including billing, so T-Mobile systems can see tariffs and device types, helping them serve customers quicker.

“The platform allows us what we want to do and if it doesn’t come out of the box, we’ve managed to build it,” added Rose. “One area might be search, but that’s subjective. Most services struggle with that.”

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