ORLANDO, Fla. - The Verizon Partner Solutions (VPS) unit and its force of 2,250 field technicians and managers are experiencing big boosts in mobility and operating efficiency - enhancing their ability to deliver higher levels of customer satisfaction - after replacing their 8-pound laptop PCs with 5-ounce BlackBerry® 8703e smartphones from Research In Motion (RIM). Verizon unveiled the new application Thursday (May 15) at the Wireless Enterprise Symposium 2008 in Orlando.
Using a new, first-of-its-kind network solution developed by Verizon, the specially configured BlackBerry devices deliver the same computing and data communications functions as the retired PCs - at a fraction of the size, weight and cost of a laptop computer.
Verizon Partner Solutions is a wholesale provider of networks and network services to wireless, Internet, cable and telephone companies based in the U.S. VPS field technicians use automated electronic systems and software applications to manage their daily service workflow, which includes the critical tasks of installing, maintaining and repairing services for customers.
"Prior to the deployment of the BlackBerry smartphones, technicians working at remote locations in the field could only connect using laptop PCs," said Diane McCarthy, senior vice president of customer experience for Verizon Partner Solutions. "It was a cumbersome process that limited their access to routine work-assignment, testing, close-out and time-reporting applications, and their ability to communicate job-status updates to customers and supervisors."
Charles Henry, vice president of systems management for Verizon Partner Solutions, said, "What we were hearing from our techs in the field was a call for a new communications tool that would empower them to better manage their work assignments and fulfill customer requests more efficiently.
"We took their suggestions to our IT group and determined that a wireless smartphone could be the answer. But we couldn't find an existing product that fulfilled all of our techs' needs. So, working with our colleagues at Verizon Wireless and a team of vendors, our IT group built this new first-of-its-kind wireless solution for us," he said.
The new solution was designed to address four key technician requirements:
- Portability - Reducing the volume of equipment that technicians hand-carry into and out of work sites saves time by preventing repeat trips, which in urban areas can stretch for several city blocks. Carried on a belt or in a pocket, the hands-free portability of the Blackberry 8703e increases technicians' carrying capacity by removing the laptop PC from their gear load.
- Speed - Because the smartphones are always on, they give technicians fast access to the systems and applications they need - eliminating the time-consuming PC start-up and shutdown cycles that halted technicians' progress whenever they used their laptops.
- Simplicity - After becoming familiar with the device, technicians are up-and-running quickly because they use the same Verizon systems and applications they accessed via their laptops. In addition, because the smartphones combine both data and voice communications in a single device, they relieve the technicians of carrying and caring for a separate mobile phone.
- Customer Communication - Timely technician-to-customer communications are an essential element of quality customer service. Verizon systems and software applications accessed using the smartphones have been upgraded to automatically prompt submission of real-time job-status updates to VPS customers - enabling technicians to provide customers with greater real-time service and support information.
"Without question, the new BlackBerry smartphones are a huge leap forward in our ability to serve our wholesale customers," said McCarthy. "One of the best features, in my mind, is the real-time job-status reporting function enabled by Verizon's customer support systems. Keeping customers apprised and aware of the status of their service request is a crucial element of a positive customer experience."
While the benefits of the conversion are most visible with technicians in the field, the smartphones are also having a measurable impact on the VPS unit's operations.
"Our cost to issue a fully loaded BlackBerry 8703e smartphone to a field tech is less than what it used to cost us to equip that same technician with a laptop," said Henry.
The lower cost of deployment has allowed VPS to make the BlackBerry smartphones the standard communications device used by all of its technicians. This has enabled VPS to streamline its internal IT support and help desk operations, focusing on the smartphones rather than a variety of devices and operating systems. And in the future, use of the smartphones should reduce the overall cost of periodic equipment refreshes across the field force.
Data security is always an operational concern. The BlackBerry 8703e smartphone eliminates the need to secure a PC hard drive - the system and application servers used are all shielded by a network firewall - and its home screen is locked and password protected.
The new device also supports Verizon's green environmental initiatives by reducing the number of energy-consuming devices used by VPS technicians, while reducing the number of PCs that the VPS unit will decommission and recycle in the future.
"Our field technicians' response to the smartphones has been positive, but that's not surprising because we designed this solution using their recommendations," said Henry. "Going forward, our plan is to solicit their continuous feedback on the device to help us plan future upgrades and improvements. We believe that enriching the utility of the device for our techs and their managers will correspondingly enrich the value of our relationships with our wholesale customers."
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 67 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employed a diverse workforce of approximately 232,000 as of the end of the first quarter 2008 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.
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