SAN JOSE, Calif. - As IP transforms the communications industry, "service matters more than ever before," John Killian, president of Verizon Business, said today in a keynote address to the Spring VON Conference & Expo here.
"No matter how transformational and incredible the technology, we still have to make it work for customers on their own terms, and we have to deliver the same level of customer service they have come to rely on," Killian said. "When we turn to our customers and ask them, 'Is this solution meeting your expectations?' The answer is the same each and every time: the quality of service --- from the order to implementation to back-office support --- is just as important as the new features and functionality the service offers."
That is not to say that technology is not as important as ever, Killian stressed. With the most interconnected IP backbone, heritage of deploying IP standards, proven leadership in broadband access and largest ultra-long-haul, optical network, Verizon Business is "a bellwether for an industry that is transforming and reinventing itself around customer requirements and new technologies," he said.
However, surveys have shown that -- beyond network reach -- the top criteria for providers include: being responsive, being reliable, and guaranteeing that reliability with service level agreements, Killian said. "Even with a relatively new technology such as IP, the table stakes for customers are familiar: it is about our ability as providers to deliver the breadth, the depth and the quality that customers demand," he said.
Killian added that customers have told him that even if the technology and some of the terms have changed in the IP environment, certain basic rules of good customer service still apply:
- Rule Number One: Customers want service on their own terms- so they want to move to IP convergence at their pace and follow their own path for migration.
- Rule Number Two: Implementation needs to be seamless and changes transparent. Whatever added functionality or other "bells and whistles" this solution may have, it has to work just as easily as their old communications system.
- Rule Number Three: Quality always matters. Customers expect the same call quality they've gotten from providers like Verizon for more than 100 years.
- Rule Number Four: If it breaks, fix it - and fix it fast. In a world of mission-critical, revenue-generating applications, time means money.
- Rule Number Five, which is the foundation for all of the other rules: the customer's experience, not the technology, is what still matters the most.
To address the need for a focus on fundamentals in an increasingly IP world, Verizon Business has taken a number of steps to reinforce its leadership in that area, Killian said. These include developing a comprehensive product portfolio tailored for large-business customers who are at different stages of migration and adoption; deploying a global technical team of 6,500 experts -- to help design and support customers from start to finish in the IP process; and focusing on improving the customer experience by making quality and responsiveness priorities in the Verizon Business model.
As an example, Killian cited Verizon Business's announcement yesterday setting new customer service standards for VoIP, including guarantees for voice quality and the industry's best time-to-repair guarantee.
In conclusion, Killian stressed that Verizon Business will continue to innovate and push the boundaries of technology, build on its legacy of innovation and leadership in IP communications, and ensure that its IP network and IP services portfolio meets the wide-ranging needs of its customers. The biggest opportunity, however, is to focus on the fundamentals of great service, he said.
"Service, great service, is the key to delivering on the promise of IP," Killian said. "And this means we listen to customers, we understand their issues and concerns, and we do it their way, not our way."
Verizon Business, a unit of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), is a leading provider of advanced communications and information technology (IT) solutions to large business and government customers worldwide. Combining unsurpassed global network reach with advanced technology and professional service capabilities, Verizon Business delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world. For more information, visit www.verizonbusiness.com.