Verizon Wireless a Call Center 2.0 Case Study

The wireless communications sector is one of the more interesting businesses around as they generate billions and billions in revenue and spend millions on ad campaigns such as “We have the least dropped calls.” It just seems so weird in the world of business. Could you imagine a hospital billboard with a slogan like “Least accidental deaths?” How about a political campaign ad – “Lowest infidelity rate.” Or better still how about a slogan from McDonalds – “Least obesity-related illness!”

But the people in the wireless industry don’t see things as funny as I do and some of them are looking for ways to clearly annihilate their competition.

Over the past years I have written about Verizon Wireless many times. I always said their network was fantastic but they had a slew of other problems. Some of my early articles discussed problems the company was facing with customer service issues. I then went on to a phase of complaining about the company’s devices and how they were behind most other carriers in the world.

Amazingly the company has turned around all of my objections in a period of a few years. Their service levels have dramatically improved and instead of ignoring leading-edge devices they are actually on the leading edge as far as US carriers go.

In addition, the company saw it as an important task to ensure the world understands how Verizon Wireless is focusing on being a success in the US. To that end they sent Tom Pica , executive director, corporate communications for Verizon Wireless to TMC headquarters recently to discuss what the company is up to.

It became apparent early in our conversation that wireless data is a huge part of the company’s business and seems to be growing rapidly. Support is a critical area for Verizon Wireless and they have 26 first-tier call centers throughout the US and three of these are wireless data technical support centers. This includes advanced support for the latest devices.

Tom tells me the number one call driver is wireless data and I am not surprised as the level of complexity and integration that is needed to get these devices configured and working is not trivial. There are the backend servers, the front-end devices, the firewalls, the VPNs and a host of other things that need to be taken into account when setting these devices up to work with corporate infrastructure in a secure and productive and cost-effective manner.

The technicians get continuing training every month and also get training on every new device as it comes out. In fact the new flagship data technical support center will be in New Mexico. Verizon Wireless set up a temporary tech support center there with 300 people back in January of this year and now expects about 1,000 people by year’s end. Obviously this is rapid growth and it is impressive that the company has decided to keep these jobs in the US.

Specifically Tom tells me “Our business model is to own and operate our own call centers and use outsourcers for seasonal and specialty situations. This is due to the increasing complexity of devices.”

The company has a number of device emulators and actual devices in their centers so they can reproduce customer problems and help to rapidly fix the problems they may be experiencing.

I asked what the biggest areas of focus are and Tom answered the area of first call resolution. Basically they don’t want customers calling back with same problem as it leads to dissatisfied customers and costs more money for the company. It is for this reason They don’t rank their support people based on call length but on first call resolution.

Simply stated Verizon Wireless has taken many steps to fix the problems that once plagued the company. I must congratulate them on doing a great job and doing an even better job of telling the story to the media. Either of these in a vacuum just doesn’t get the job accomplished. I suppose after all my years of suggesting how Verizon Wireless can improve, they really could hear me then and hopefully can hear me now.

Are you working in the call center 1.0 world when you should be in call center 2.0 like Verizon Wireless? Are your customers satisfied? Are you using the latest technology to ensure 100% customer satisfaction? If you have a call center in your company you owe it to your customers and bottom line to send them to the Call Center 2.0 Conference October 10-13, 2006 at the San Diego Convention Center.

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