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The AT&T Metric and Numbers Flaws

Updated on November 5, 2018
ClydeKing profile image

I have been an AT&T U-Verse Wire Technician for over seven years.


No one really knows what it stands for. No one really knows what genius came up with it. However, the MSOC number is a way for AT&T to rate their employees. No one knows for sure who thought of this but it's not specific to AT&T. Some random Joe at some company came up with this bright idea to punish employees and apparently it spread like wildfire. I say punish because we, as employees, have little to no control over numbers that apparently rate our performance. Let's dive in and take a look at the 5 MSOC numbers.


The Concept

Let's rate employees based on the quality of their work.

Quality has nothing to do with the time and effort I put into my work. I take pride in everything I do but it doesn't refer to that. It revolves around customers calling AT&T within 30 days after I leave. The theory is, if I do my job well, the customer shouldn't have to call back in. To be fair, it only counts if the phone representative creates a dispatch to send a second tech to the customers house. We call these repeats. If I do a job for John Doe and he calls back in to get another tech, it's called a repeat.

The Flaw

AT&T has some of the worst equipment in the cable industry. The TV boxes and modems have been refurbished so many times that's its fairly common for me to plug in a "new" modem and it's defective right out of the box. How many of those boxes do you think are going to last 30 days without the customer calling back in complaining that something is broken on their box? I have to trust this equipment to last 30 days? You're going to judge me, as a tech, based on your equipment?

Many times, customers call in to inquire about their bill, or their package, or contract. For all the reasons the customer calls AT&T, they're gambling with my MSOC numbers. Those phone representatives say they're technical support but less than half a percent have ever even seen a cable box in person let alone know how to troubleshoot anything that is more involved than resetting your modem. Phone reps or tech support have a 6-8 month turn around. I wouldn't call them knowledgeable. So, when a customer calls in, it's extremely likely that the phone representative will answer their question, then magically find a "problem on the line" and tell the customer they have to send a tech. I can't tell you how many times I go to a repair and the customer says they don't know why I'm there because everything is working fine. I double check everything and sure enough, there's no problems anywhere.

Following poor tech support is the poor tech support script. If you call in, they just read from a script. Ask this, if the customer says this, say this. This script is just a maze that ends a few different ways. The majority of those ways is to send a technician or transfer you to a different department. This is also what turns a 10 minute phone call to AT&T into a 4 hour nightmare.

I don't know what field you work in, but in my field I see a lot of people. The people I see are not really... They can sometimes be... I'm trying to be nice but what I'm trying to say they're not the brightest. Customers routinely unplug equipment and wonder why it doesn't work. They'll remove the batteries from the remote and call us to install batteries. They'll put the TV on the wrong input (ie. Component instead of HDMI). Bottom line, the customer will mess up my installation and then I have to foot the responsibility for their mistakes when they call in to complain about it.

Other techs can be a problem too. Especially if they're new. They can connect or disconnect the wrong wires at the front of your neighborhood while working on a different house and take you out of service by accident. This is very common after class of new hires hit the field.

There are literally thousands of issues out of my control that can cause a quality hit. If this is my responsibility, how can I control all of those factors? I can't! The quality of my work has absolutely no bearing on any of those! In fact, after my initial learning curve after getting hired, I can't remember a single time I took a quality hit on something I actually did incorrectly.


The Concept

Techs should be able to perform their work quickly so they can do more jobs per day.

We do have some control over this, albeit not much. Every dispatch I go to has a time attached to it. I'm making these numbers up because even though I'm responsible for them, I'm not allowed to know what they are. So, for example, you order 3 TVs, internet, and phone service. The first TV I get 30 minutes to install. Each additional TV is 15 minutes each. The modem is 45 minutes. The phone is 20 minutes. So AT&T says I should be able to do that job in (if my math is correct) 2 hours and 5 minutes. All repairs are 45 minutes.

The Flaw

No two jobs are the same. One customer may call in a repair where a tree fell on the wire that hangs from the pole. They may be out in the country and I have to climb 4 telephone poles and route that wire through trees and branches. The next repair may be a dog that chewed through a wire and I have to run a wire all through the attic and down the wall. How is it that I am expected to do both in exactly 45 minutes or less?

Some homes have wires we can use. That saves us time. Some home have no wires at all and I have to run wires to the modem and each of your 3 TVs. How are they judged the same?

Some houses are small trailers that I can quickly run a wire under the trailer and some are 3 story homes with basements and the customer is picky about where the wires go and how they're run. AT&T says they're both the same.

Some customers require a 45 minute tutorial on how to use each and every feature. They want you to go around and connect all their devices to WiFi and run speed tests on each one. Some just want you finished and out of the house.

Problems, problems, problems. If I hit a problem, it's a fail on my efficiency. These problems can be anything from defective equipment that's been refurbished 13 times before I get it, to bad cables 2 blocks away. If you want to change anything while I'm there, I have to go sit in my truck for two hours with sales to amend the order. Yes, it's the same people you speak with and the same script they read to you. Do I have to do it? No. But I do because if I leave and you call back in, I'll get a repeat (see quality).

Dispatch Efficiency

The Concept

If I'm given a job to do, I should be able to do it.

Dispatch efficiency is how many jobs I get vs how many I complete. If I can't complete a job, for any reason, I have to return that job. We call that a jep. It stands for jeopardy. No idea why.

The Flaw

Let's say my lunch break is ending at 3pm. I hit the dispatch button and the dispatch lady gives me an install that was scheduled for 1pm-3pm. She has numbers too and one of them is making sure she gives out jobs in the time frame. Not that I can get to that job in the next 60 seconds, just that I was given that job before 3pm. First, I'm going to look like a slacker when I get to the customers house. Second, I'm going to get to the customers house and they're not going to be there. I can't complete it if they're not home, so it counts against me. This happens almost daily.

Customers cancel jobs. They realize the annoying guys in Walmart who sold them a package lied and they called AT&T to cancel. Those phone reps have numbers too and if they cancel a job, it counts against them. So they don't cancel it. I pull up and the customer says, "I cancelled that a week ago. I don't want AT&T". I can't complete it and it counts against me. This one is tricky because I can't cancel a job. I can return it as "customer requests cancel" and AT&T will call them later to confirm but the customer may have to go through this loop 5 times and each time the phone rep doesn't cancel and another tech is sent out. It's a vicious cycle.

If there's an outage, which is rare, or a problem that's beyond my scope of work, I can't fix it. The customer could call in and say a telephone pole got knocked down and the tech support guy is going to dispatch me like haul around spare telephone poles to put in the ground. Of course, I can't complete that, so it counts against me.

Like quality, there are thousands of reasons I may have to jep a job and none of them are "I don't want to do it."


The Concept

Safety is the employees responsibility and if they get hurt, they were working unsafely.

This one is a no-brainer. If you get hurt, you get in trouble. Period. AT&T doesn't believe accidents are accidental. Accidents are a lack of awareness and disregarded precautions.

The Flaw

We can't control or see the future. If we get rear-ended at a stop light, we get in trouble. AT&T says we should have left room ahead of us to move if we see a car behind us not slowing down. If we get side swiped, AT&T says we should have been driving in a bubble of safety, away from all other vehicles.

If we're bit by a stray dog, we should have been carrying dog spray (mace) and used it. If the customer let their dog out half way through the install and we get bit, we should have forced the customer to keep their pet locked up the entire 5 hours we were there.

If a rogue wasp or bee decides to swoop down and sting us, we should have been carrying wasp spray. Same with snakes and bugs.

If a customer did some unethical electrical wiring and we get shocked by touching an air conditioner unit, we should have checked it for voltage.

These may seem extreme but they're all ones I remember happening to technicians. The possibilities are endless. The accident is 99.9% spun in a way that makes the tech appear to be working carelessly. Most people don't realize how dangerous our jobs are. We're listed as one of the top 5 dangerous jobs in America. Accidents happen!

Customer Rules

The Concept

When AT&T sends you an automated call after we leave, you better rank us at least 9 out of 10.

These automated calls and texts occur anytime you interact with any employee. Phone employee, technician, online chat, if you go into the store, etc... I have no idea why they're called customer rules.

The Flaw

Over the past 3 days you may have interacted with 15 employees. You went into the store and ordered service. You then chatted with someone about the bill. You called to reschedule or change the package. Then I show up. If you get a call, it could be about the rude chat agent you spoke to about your bill or it could be about me, who you laughed with and had a good time. What do you respond to that survey with?

What if you and I hung out and had a great time while I installed or repaired your service. However, you forgot that the modem needed power to work, and unplugged it. Or a refurbished TV box stopped working? When the survey call comes, you give me a 5 because it stopped working as soon as I left.

Did you fat finger and send a 0 instead of a 10 because you missed the 1 on the keypad? Or maybe you gave me 6 instead of a 9 because the keyboard on the phone is small and you meant to hit 9.

These can not be disputed. Anything less than a 9 and I fail. My manager can call and you can sing him praises about how wonderful I was and you miscliked or you thought the survey was for that Walmart salesman but in the end, I still fail.


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