User-centric and streamlined: making customer service count
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User-centric and streamlined: making customer service count

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Darren Kolb

What elements make for top-notch customer service and experience in today's wholesale market? Darren Kolb, executive director of client services at Verizon Partner Solutions, highlights that this relies on giving customers a voice, constantly assessing their feedback and making platforms easy to use.

What are the key requirements for customer service and customer experience in the wholesale telecoms industry as technologies like 5G and IoT gain traction? 

The key requirements in the global telecoms industry aren’t much different from those in other industries. We’re constantly asking ourselves, are we meeting our customers’ expectations and are they satisfied?

We quantify our results and measure performance in this area in several ways, including through net promoter scores [NPS] and key performance indicators based on factors such as delivery against our customers’ desired due dates. Verizon also relies on reporting from industry analysts, such as ATLANTIC-ACM, to gauge how we’re performing relative to similar operators.

At times we are challenged by things beyond our control, such as supply-chain equipment issues. Meanwhile, as we build out fibre in our network to better serve our customers and provide 5G and IoT, this places constraints on equipment and in some cases lengthens our delivery times for strategic products.

We are, however, constantly assessing our own performance as we continue to drive scalable efficiencies while new technologies are enabled.

What are the main principles behind the approach of Verizon Partner Solutions [VPS] towards customer service and experience? And how does it set itself apart from its competitors in this respect? 

Our business model at VPS is entirely customer-centric. As part of this, we use ‘voice of the customer’ feedback to help us understand not only their needs, but also the needs of their end customers.

Within the company, we adhere to higher-level Verizon leadership principles of acting on the customers’ behalf and driving change to deliver results.

A key part of the Verizon approach is the emphasis on our own people and recognising how important it is to nurture development within our teams, ensuring that everyone is aligned with our strategic direction and goals. Taking accountability and leading by example are essential.

We also ensure that each customer knows who to contact for help and offer consistent open communication. Our customers know that we are here to help them and prioritise their issues; they trust our brand and the network reliability that comes with the Verizon name.

What is the Verizon Partner Solutions Exchange platform, and how does it improve the online digital experience and ease of doing business for customers? 

Our digital transformation goal is to make it easier for our partners to do business with Verizon from a wholesale perspective. In the past, we had several different portals and processes depending on the product and function, but we wanted to provide a simplified and integrated system end to end. Additionally, we wanted to reduce the complexity in our front-end portal by streamlining what information we needed to gather from customers and using simple English rather than technical jargon.

To make these changes, we embarked on a multi-year transformation programme that culminated in the launch of the VPS Exchange platform in December 2018. The platform provides a core set of quoting and ordering functions for our strategic products, including Ethernet, internet, wavelength services, broadband and toll-free services. The platform also offers service-assurance capabilities, including providing the customer with the ability to create trouble tickets, view the status of their orders and repair processes, and escalate a repair issue to eliminate the need to contact our repair centres.

What is feedback like to the customer service offered by VPS? 

Overall, we’ve received positive feedback from our customers regarding their experience with our Client Services teams. We rely on feedback from sources including recognition in the ATLANTIC-ACM awards, NPS surveys, our Customer Advisory Board meetings and our annual partner summit.

In ATLANTIC-ACM’s 2022 US Wholesale Service Provider Excellence Awards, Verizon was recognised as best in the categories of Brand, Service Delivery, Network Performance, Billing, Data Value, Voice Value and Sales Reps. We review these types of feedback regularly, and are constantly identifying where we are doing well and where we can improve to keep our customers satisfied.

We will continue to listen to our customers and strive to be the best wholesale provider for them to do business with, as we continue to evolve to deliver and support new technologies. We’re proud to be a cohesive results-focused team committed to building an inclusive employee culture.

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