With more than 65 million customers, T-Mobile is one of the United States' largest wireless providers. Not too long ago, the company decided to spearhead change and fix its industry — a category that once ranked in people's minds worse than that of proverbial used car salesmen — forcing the rest of the players to follow. In an increasingly mobile world where people have multiple devices, how were people using its services, and how could it best serve them?
"What we do impacts everyone's daily lives," says Glenn May, Senior Search Manager. "Whether it's business or personal — whether a person needs to make an emergency call, or keep in touch with friends and family — the service we provide is fundamental. We are one of those services that you don't notice is working until it's not. We need to always be on, have 100% availability, 100% service for our customers, and exceed their expectations at all times."
Of T-Mobile's expansive retail presence, including kiosks and stores-within-stores, over 3,500 locations are traditional storefronts. "It's a split between franchised and corporate owned," explains May. "We have corporate and then what we call TPR, T-Mobile Preferred Retailer — lots of people like receiving the value of one-on-one interaction, and they don't want to drive 20 miles to do that," he adds. "Especially since, as smartphones and tablets become more sophisticated, they also become more complicated. It's so much easier for people to go into our locations and have someone walk them through something."
In this spirit of helping customers find T-Mobile faster and more easily, May continues, "We want to be in people's neighborhoods. That's really important not only because people want a location nearby, but also because when it comes to coverage, people want to know it works in their neighborhood, at their work, at their home. We want there to be a store in every area where people work or live so they can say, 'What is my coverage like?' and we can try it right there. It's therefore really important to be local and present in those areas."
Along with contract elimination, anytime upgrades, free streaming, customer rewards, elimination of hidden charges, and a significantly expanded network, the in-person customer experience is one of many improvements or 'un-carrier moves' that T-Mobile has spearheaded for its industry and its customers. "We have made huge strides in minimizing the amount of in-store time it takes to buy a new cell phone," May proclaims. "Years ago, it used to take two hours for a person to buy a cell phone, between trying to activate everything, and filling out forms. A pain on par with the DMV! Now we have reduced the turnaround time to 25 minutes."