Is ‘Powered By Humans’ becoming a thing?

T-Mobile CEO John Legere addresses the audience at T-Mobile’s Un-carrier NEXT event at the T-Mobile Charleston Customer Experience Center on Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Rohit Bhargava has been publishing his annual Non-Obvious Trend Report since 2011. Rather than trying to compete with the normal avalanche of predictions that emerge at the end of every year, Rohit has developed a method where he and his team uncover and share a series of unexpected insights accompanied by explanations about how they may affect businesses in the year to come.

In the 2018 version of the report that came out in January, there was one trend that stood out for me, particularly in the midst of all of the news and activity that we see these days around digitization and automation.

That trend was: Human Mode.

Rohit and his team describe this as an emerging trend, where people, as a result, of the advancement of digitization and automation are now starting to demand services, advice and experiences that are delivered by human beings instead of by machines or software.

I have expressed similar concerns in the past and in Sept 2016 wrote: The Need To (Re)Consider The Technology And Human Balance In Customer Experience. So, it is interesting to see some brands and entrepreneurs now exploring the viability of a ‘Powered By Humans’ service and experience strategy.

But, will this emerging trend become a thing?

Well, it just might as, earlier this month, T-Mobile in the US announced the nationwide launch of ‘Team Of Experts’, an initiative where they are dispensing with traditional automated phone menus and robotic help and are replacing them with specially trained, local teams of human representatives that will provide help 24/7 to customers in cities around the US.

T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere explained in a statement that accompanied the announcement that:

“People are fed up with horrible customer service that puts cost control ahead of customer happiness. While other brands mechanize customer service, we’re going the other way – no bots, no bouncing, no BS. With Team of Experts, we’re tearing up the traditional playbook, killing the phone menu and putting people at the center of customer care, like they should be”.

Moreover, according to T-Mobile, it has taken them two years of testing and optimization to get their Team of Experts initiative ready to roll-out. But, test Net Promoter Scores (NPS) of 56% show that they may be onto something.

Now, that does not mean that they are dialing back the clock on all technology.

Not at all.

Rather agents will have access to the best and most intelligent tools and systems to help them deliver great service.

Cynics might suggest that they are just ramping up and rebranding their contact centre presence. But, I don’t think that is the case as they are also moving away from Average Handle Time (AHT), the contact center staple metric, and are committing to 24/7 service, scheduled callbacks and asynchronous messaging.

So, if T-Mobile, the 3rd largest wireless carrier in the US, is doing this I wonder how many other big brands will be paying attention and reviewing their own customer and operational economics so that they can consider implementing their own ‘Powered By Humans’ strategy.

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This post was originally published on Forbes here.

Thanks to T-Mobile for the image.

 

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