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How T-Mobile Brings Its "Un-Carrier" Image to Social Media

When you’re in the telecom industry, are known as the “Un-carrier”, and your CEO has 2.2 million followers on Twitter, you need to be ready for just about anything in social media. It also helps to be just a little “feisty”, says Director of Social Media Services, Michelle Mattson. The T-Mobile social care team – known as “T-Force” – certainly is, with Mattson leading 145 agents in six different call centers, operating 24/7 and handling brand engagement, customer service inquiries, and many interactions with CEO John Legere.

T-Mobile is the third-largest wireless provider in the United States with more than 60 million subscribers, and recently ranked highest among wireless full-service carriers in the 2016 J.D. Power U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study.

“We’re there, we’re responding, and we’re really good at the experience part of it as well, so we have a lot of repeat customers,” says Mattson. “We’re really focused on effort… it should be fairly effortless in what we’re asking you to do.”

It all starts with training. “We’re really hardcore in how we hire and train folks,” Mattson says, adding that applicants must submit writing samples and the #1 requirement for employment is that “you better have good grammar”. A “passion for customer experience” and the ability to respond in just the right way are also paramount. “How do you respond to someone who’s being a smartass and match that without really stepping out of bounds?” Mattson asks. “I think that’s an interesting craft to have.”

Response time is also critical to the experience. “I love to see when our customer surveys come back and they’re like, ‘Whoa, I did not expect you to respond so quickly,’” says Mattson. She adds that it’s a goal to “hit every issue every time [so] no one gets left behind”.

Adding to the intrigue of this “Un-carrier” brand that eliminated annual contracts, roaming fees in Canada and Mexico, and other customer irritants, and added features like unlimited audio and video streaming, is that its CEO is among the most active CEOs on Twitter. In fact, CNBC named Legere the fourth most influential CEO on Twitter in 2015, behind only Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk.

Averaging 11 tweets per day, the outspoken leader who has his own Twitter emoji received more than a half million retweets and likes last year, according to CNBC. Mattson describes Legere as “the unicorn of CEOs,” quoting him as saying, “I love Twitter so damn much because I get so much customer feedback.” Naturally, a lot of that feedback requires Mattson’s team to jump in and address an issue, which they do with the same speed and efficiency as inquiries that come to the @TMobileHelp handle.

Mattson brought her own brand of feistiness to the Focus on Customer Service Podcast, which was recorded live on and then converted to an audio file. Here are some key moments in Episode 28 and where to find them:

0:50 Michelle’s role and team structure

2:57 T-Mobile’s social staffing plan

4:58 How T-Mobile prioritizes customer service inquiries vs. brand engagement

6:30 What are the most important skill sets to look for when hiring?

9:36 Is T-Mobile competing on customer service?

10:26 How the customer service team interacts with Marketing and a socially active CEO

12:09 How T-Mobile’s platform footprint has grown in the past few years

16:15 How does T-Mobile determine when to take conversations to direct message?

18:06 What T-mobile’s onboarding and ongoing training looks like

20:52 What are the key KPI’s the T-Mobile measures?

21:55 Michelle shares a particularly memorable interaction with a customer

24:03 Is the entire customer service staff located in a call center? (Audience Question)

24:45 How long will T-Mobile keep a conversation going with a customer, positive or negative? (Audience Question)

26:20 What does Michelle know now that she wishes she knew when she started?

28:10 What is the ideal role for a CEO on social media? (Audience Question)

32:00 How T-Mobile’s corporate culture contributes to the customer and employee experience

33:23 How does T-Mobile handle questions from disabled individuals? (Audience Question)

If you’ve experienced great customer service on a social media channel, please let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us using the hashtag #FOCS. The original video of the interview can be viewed here.

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