Verizon Doubles Down on Customer Service with ‘Simple.Smart.Connected’ Initiative

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In an industry known for poor customer service, Verizon isn’t just interested in delivering better experiences than its competitors. With the introduction of its new Simple.Smart.Connected initiative, the telecommunications giant is setting out to deliver the same kind of support that consumers receive from customer service powerhouses like Apple and Amazon. Launched a little more than a year ago, the initiative is currently in full swing, and so far, analysts say Verizon is making all the right moves.

“A company like [Verizon] has a fundamental need for customer service, but we’re in one of the worst perceived industries in terms of service,” Miguel Quiroga, executive director of customer experience at Verizon, says.

And he’s not exaggerating: In its 2014 rankings, J.D. Power found Time Warner Cable and Comcast to be two of the biggest offenders in terms of customer service. In the 2014 Temkin Customer Service Ratings, seven of the 10 lowest scoring companies are television and Internet service providers.  

Though Verizon has been outperforming its competitors, Quiroga says the goal of this new initiative is to aim higher. “We realized we needed to benchmark ourselves against companies outside of the industry,” he explains. To compete with the cream of the crop outside the telecom realm, Verizon is taking a deep look inside its own call centers and talking to frontline employees to find what they need to provide great service.

Reaching out to employees is a significant step for Verizon, says Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, because this is where most customer experience initiatives go wrong. “Customer service has to start at the top, but it has to involve ongoing conversations with customer-facing staff. Too often, contact center executives say ‘we did this for our reps because we know what they need,’ but in reality, they don’t,” she says.

According to Quiroga, Verizon has been careful to avoid making this mistake and has been actively seeking input from its agents. Their feedback has already led to the implementation of a number of new tools designed to empower them and enable them to offer better call experiences.

For example, employees identified that it was common for one household member to call and cancel or change a certain service, only to have another member of the household call back to reinstate or revert it. To combat the issue, the employees worked closely with the customer experience and IT teams to develop Rep Guidance, a feature that shows agents the viewing habits or usage of an entire household in a single-screen view. This provides the agents with more context and helps them make educated suggestions to customers.

Agents are also getting retrained as part of the initiative. By the end of 2014, more than 70 percent of employees had gone through Service Elite sessions, a training program designed to engage employees in the Simple.Smart.Connected push.

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