Verizon: They Can Hear Customers NowBy Alison Diana | Posted 2008-09-29 Print
Verizon Communications’ centralized, collaborative approach to business boosts productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction.
Once made up of multiple businesses—each with its own corporate structure, personnel and legacy systems—Verizon Communications now offers a united front to its customers and employees. The change is the result of an internal restructuring that rid the broadband, wireless and wired services provider of extraneous departments, redundant tasks and blocked communications channels.
After restructuring 18 months ago, Verizon’s three operational units—residential, wireless and business—now share some centralized organizations, including IT, purchasing and accounting. However, each business unit also has its own upper-level IT executives, who each report into the corporate IT organization, according to Eric Fremont, senior vice president of IT strategy and planning, who reports directly to executive vice president and CIO Shaygan Kheradpir.
As part of the reorganization, the company has migrated traditional IT operations—including managing the internal network, help desk and data center—away from the various business units and centralized them within the corporate IT organization. The IT groups within the business units focus their efforts on supporting strategic business initiatives.
“From Day 1, we got synergy savings,” Fremont says. “We combined like functions, and, in many cases, that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in quantifiable savings.”
In addition to powering up its purchasing punch by presenting one front to vendors and suppliers, Verizon also worked to deliver a single access point to customers. Before the change, the company targeted clients based on their size and the services they used. Now, Verizon engages customers with the entire gamut of its offerings, a move that frequently increases its market reach and improves customer service.
“If I’m a consumer, I view Verizon as one entity,” Fremont explains. “I want to call one person or one call center, and have a single point of contact who will assist me. I also want to take advantage of the fact that some products are complementary.”
Customers can access their Verizon account via one portal, which was developed by a diverse group of Verizon professionals with different areas of expertise, says Fremont. This site’s creation was reviewed by upper management on a quarterly basis.
As a result of open communication between departments and the elimination of compartmentalized sales, Verizon can offer product bundles that further cement customer loyalty and generate increased sales, while simultaneously giving multi-product clients a discount, according to Fremont.
To gain better insight into existing business and customer operations, challenges and opportunities, Verizon’s IT staff and executives sometimes make the rounds with technicians who are going to a client’s site to deliver or install products and services.
“I go on truck rolls myself and it’s fascinating,” says Fremont. “The folks in the field know what the issues are. Nine times out of 10, they’ll give you a solution.
“Often, you don’t put one and one together because you don’t know what the business problem is and they [the businesspeople] don’t know what the technology’s capable of. You must talk to the folks who are actually doing the work, and you need interaction between the players. Being close to the business is critical.”
In fact, if IT and line-of-business employees don’t communicate, the customer—and the company—may suffer. “I think there’s often a wall between IT and the business,” he says, “where the requirements are thrown over the wall, and software’s thrown back.” That’s a situation that Verizon is determined to avoid.
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