Verizon employees began their strike early in April protesting to the company’s plans to outsource jobs and transfer some work to other areas of the country. Leaving the company to face the largest strike in their history. But it turns out, at least to this point, the strike is having only a minimal effect on customers. That is primarily due to Verizon’s forward thinking and preparation.
A few years ago, Verizon began implementing more automated and “self-serve” options for customers both calling in and online. According to Tami Erwin, Sr. VP, in 2014, about 20 percent of customer service interactions were resolved by customers using Verizon’s interactive phone menus or their website. The self-service includes troubleshooting for home networks and routers, and other issues including bundling upgrades and billing inquiries.Currently, self-service happens in more than 60 percent of all service transactions.
Technology is saving “multiple millions of calls per month,” Bob Mudge, Executive VP said last week. Customers no longer need a representative to perform tasks such as upgrading a service plan to faster internet speeds, and FiOS routers, considered “self-healing,” allow users to directly request a reboot if there is a problem.
All the upgrades added to a training program Verizon began a year ago with salaried employees at a national centralized location, means Verizon had tens of thousands of temporary call-center workers trained and ready to step into the strike-vacant spots immediately.
It’s not a long-term solution since some of these temps include company PR officials, lawyers, and corporate tax employees who have their own jobs to complete. But the advance preparation gives Verizon more wiggle room during the strike, allowing them to report to customers that though it’s a large strike, their service should not be affected in any way.
Verizon used online videoconferencing to train people to fill replacement jobs if needed, and they are needed now, including management-level staff going into the field, even in bucket trucks, to keep service as usual. In this process, for whatever reason Verizon put their training and self-serve technology in place, it has provided a means for them to weather the storm of the current strike. If the company continues to make thoughtful and well-planned decisions, they should come through this strike without any damage to their reputation and continue to be ready for further growth.
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