Customer Service at AT&T
UX Design

I had the opportunity to intern at DIRECTV’s Experience Design Studio during the summer of 2016. One of my two main projects was to work alongside their Preventative Care Team to address ways to reduce customer service calls by improving aspects of the user experience. During the scope of this project, our team compiled research, ideation, and strategy for the solutions to be implemented in our next generation products.


A group of two other interns and I worked alongside their preventative care team to provide the best solutions for both the current pain-points that customers face in regards to customer service and the business opportunities that improved customer service can address. Our project scope examined the current landscape of future care both competitively and within the company, establish themes that are important in addressing CX in the future, and identifying opportunities with proposed solutions. Our end goal was to create improved experiences for DIRECTV customer service.

We began this project by doing a competitive analysis on not only our direct competitors, but other tech companies within the entertainment industry. We identified pain-points and hero moments that we personally experienced, and eventually narrowed these heuristic categories:

  • Findability
  • Clear information architecture
  • Step by step process
  • Individual Contextualization
  • Preventative Support
  • Multiple Last Resort Option

We also researched the future possibilities of customer care that may be possible for DIRECTV to consider in the future, in terms of self-healing mechanisms, augmented reality, and support systems that are aware of your process.

From there, our team stepped further into the research process by conducting interviews on a case-by-case basis with current DIRECTV customers experiencing issues with their service. We went out into the field and joined DIRECTV technicians to customer homes and asked the following questions:
  • What is the problem? How did you find out about this problem, and has this problem happened before?
  • What was your first approach to solving this problem?
  • What was your troubleshooting experience like?
  • How did you schedule your appointment with the technician? How was this experience?
  • What was your experience the day of your appointment? Did you feel you were in the loop about your technician’s arrival and job ETA? Did you feel comfortable with your technician?

From these interviews, we ranked our customer’s perception on reoccurring categories:

After our research, we extracted themes that would guide ideation for future customer care experiences, specifically within the appointment process. We also created a user journey of a typical customer who would go through a set-top-box issue. From there, we were able to identify opportunities of improvement of the current CX process. Below are our four themes along with the user journey with opportunities highlighted in purple.

Our final deliverables were four ideas for solutions moving forward in improving the current CX process, identified below. Although these solutions were not immediately implemented during our internship, our research and analysis was a starting point for collaboration between the Experience Design and Preventative Care teams.

In-App Streaming

Our first idea addressed the opportunity of connecting users to entertainment even when their satellite connection is down. We realized when interviewing customers that a lot of them were not aware of DIRECTV’s app, which allows them to stream shows while they are in their own home. Knowing this could have ameliorated their issue, because they still could have watched their show even when their connection was down. We identified this as low-hanging fruit that could easily be solved if their set-top-box notified them of alternate ways of viewing their channels. Taking it even further, their app could cast their show onto their television, running off free AT&T data to appease the customer.

Themes: Transparency, Entertaining CX, Personalization

AR Troubleshooting

Looking into the future of care, we constructed an idea of how augmented reality can enhance the troubleshooting experience. In this idea, the customer can open an app on their phone that would be able to identify physical problems with the set-top-box and give the user immediate step-by-step instructions on how to fix it.

Themes: Transparency, Approachability, Entertaining CX


We found that many people would not fix their issue unless it surpassed a threshold of annoyance, like their favorite show suddenly going down. Currently, the only way to schedule an appointment was if they walked through the troubleshooting process with the rep on the phone, which they might have done on their own, and the rep confirms that it is a problem that needs an appointment with a technician. Ideally, the set-top-box could recognize the problem on its own and ping the customer’s phone to schedule an appointment. This solution would eliminate repetitive steps that customers inevitably take, provide a visual and more convenient way to schedule, and quicken the CX process. This solution would reduce the amount of calls to customer service, thus eliminating costs.

Themes: Transparency, Personalization, Approachability

Tech ETA

Another major pain-point that we addressed was that customers not being kept in the loop in regards to technician arrival time and job completion. In addition, some felt a bit anxious with a stranger entering their home. The customer would receive a ping on their phone with an arrival time and a photo and bio. Ideally, the customer would also be notified about the progress of the technician’s job.

Themes: Transparency, Entertaining CX, Personalization

*All graphics were made by yours truly!*