How AT&T is Putting Transformational DNA to the Test

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AT&T Logo

By Sorabh Saxena, Executive Vice President – Customer Service & Operations – AT&T Business

When businesses need to pivot quickly, so do we. If we hadn’t done our transformation, we would be in a challenging position. We had already set course for our destination…

It’s just that the COVID-19 crisis accelerated our time of arrival. We quickly recognized this crisis would need our Transformational DNA at its best while it would also, simultaneously, put it to the test.

Crisis management is part of our normal business practice. The health and safety of our global workforce is our number one priority. Located in hundreds of countries, navigating waves of changing governmental policies while keeping our employees safe was no small task.

The foundational elements to re-engineer processes, and in true agile manner, operationalize automation for the frontline teams, were already hard at work at macro and micro scale. Our internal culture of borderless collaboration means that all who are needed to work as links in the chain are always present and groups are dynamically formed.

Shortly after the start of the pandemic, we set up six virtual COVID-19 Command Centers. Over the past few months, through these Centers, we’ve supported the critical needs of thousands of customers to pivot their businesses so they can continue operations in the new reality. Customers include those providing essential services – hospitals, healthcare facilities and labs, trauma centers, financial institutions, federal, state and local governments, K-12 and higher education, utilities, and the food and beverage industry.

Nearly 200 core team members ideated and brought the Command Centers to life to help engage thousands of people across multiple organizations in AT&T Communications in a fundamentally new manner. These Centers helped accelerate order intake, triage and delivery to keep businesses running while managing the increased demands on our network.

It’s all about listening to our customers and meeting their immediate needs. To do this, essentially, we’ve deconstructed our own processes. You must undo the standard process and create a new one that can go faster. Things that once took months are now being completed with increased speed.

The team also created new BOTs, or software applications, to automate key work specifically needed to support the influx of requests surrounding COVID-19. The team’s innovative work included a conversation chatbot in collaboration space. Created within 48 hours, these virtual assistants provide real-time updates and help speed employee collaboration for faster problem solving. And one of the BOTs is saving hours per day for each service manager. That means we’re able to deliver more of the services that our customers need even faster.

As outlined in our Adept at Adapting white paper, from mid-March through May, we delivered over 16,000 communication services requests for businesses and we did so ultra-fast – at 80% improved cycle time vs. business as usual. It took hundreds of innovations, delivered at great speed.

A large retailer saw this innovative process in action when assistance from a Command Center processed numerous orders automatically, as opposed to the usual manual process, to add Call Forwarding features to their primary phone lines in significantly reduced cycle time versus the several weeks usually required for a project of this size.

One customer that we’ve helped is ServiceNow. Their cloud-based platform and solutions deliver digital workflows that create great experiences and unlock productivity for employees and the enterprise. ServiceNow had a spike in demand for cloud services and they pivoted quickly to help ensure their employees could work safely from home. Being an essential service provider to ServiceNow, their mission became our mission. We delivered 4 10Gig connections in less than an 8-day average.

Our team’s stellar performance to serve the surge in demand has helped stage our next transformation chapter: applying the methods used to serve the COVID-19 volumes at scale to the full book of work.

We have broken down the work into three focus areas including:

Restructuring: We are fundamentally reshaping and rethinking how we look at our customers’ needs and how we serve them.
Holding onto the Gains: We are hard at work industrializing those innovations: changing methods and procedures, communicating, training the larger teams and productionalizing the technology innovations that were done on the fly.
Re-architecting for the Future: We are rearchitecting our flows and putting new programs in place that will help us keep this positive trajectory. We anticipate creating 20% capacity while being ready to deliver services materially faster.
This pandemic has proven that technology can have far-reaching, profoundly positive impact on how we live, work, communicate, educate our children, treat patients, and so much more. It’s also brought clearer focus to something we already knew…. that no matter the industry vertical, businesses need connections – whether human to human, human-to-machine, or machine-to-machine.

Do you think every business has pivoted quickly to adapt to this environment? Next week, check out our final blog in the series that will discuss ways to create Transformational DNA in your organization.


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