Sprint to Replace Customer Care Employees With ‘Self-Service’ Support

In hopes of turning around a tough quarterly operating loss of $197 million, wireless company Sprint is replacing some of its employees with, well, robots. The company is reportedly cutting 2,500 jobs, including 2,000 in customer care.

To replace 2,000 of its customer service agents, the company is implementing self-service and digital care tools. While this is a major change, the company is confident that subscribers won’t actually see any decline in customer care quality.

“These changes will not impact the level of service we provide to our customers,” a Sprint spokesperson told Ars Technica. “In addition, we have made changes in service assurance that have now resulted in our lowest ticket levels and fastest repair times in the last three years,” Sprint said.

While Sprint has experienced some success, some argue that it’s not in the company’s best interest to put all of its eggs in one basket. Sure, self-service technology is beneficial; however, not all customers are the same and some prefer customer care provided by a live agent.

Let’s consider some pros and cons of Sprint’s decision to cut customer care agents and opt for self-service. First, it’s cost effective. Being in financial distress, Sprint needed to shave costs. Replacing employees with self-service technology is a strategic way to cut costs. While the technology can be expensive, it can produce optimal contact center services ROI.

Let’s not forget, however, that no two customers are alike. In fact, some customers prefer to speak on the phone to an actual agent, while others simply enjoy having the option if they need it. Replacing agents with self-service technology may turn off customers who prefer human interaction.

So what’s the solution? It’s simple; companies should offer various different options to customers, so as to ensure that they are catering to everyone’s preferences.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.