Verizon trials new $30 ‘concierge’ service for phone set-up

LAS VEGAS – Verizon’s Chief Operating Officer for the Consumer Group Krista Bourne confirmed today that the carrier is trialing a new “concierge” service that will cost customers $30 or $35 to receive assistance when setting up their new phones or other devices.

The new charge was first reported by Matthew Keys of The Desk.

Speaking with Fierce Wireless today at the MWC Americas event, Bourne said, “We are piloting a new concierge service that will provide a new set-up service around full device operations. It’s a pilot in just a handful of stores today.”

She said Verizon customers have different levels of comfort with setting up their devices. Some are happy to do everything themselves, others need a minimal amount of assistance, and still others require a lot of help. “We’re testing to see if there’s customer appetite” for the concierge service, she said.

Verizon has not settled on a final price for the service. If, after its trials, it does decide to implement a concierge service or different levels of service with different prices, that would likely happen in 2023.

Bourne’s new role

Bourne was promoted to COO of the Verizon Consumer Group in January, and she’s had to hit the ground running. She’s tasked with overseeing 34,000 employees, including Verizon’s customer support and retail workers, during a difficult time with worker shortages across practically every industry in the U.S.

Anyone who’s had to work with a customer service agent this year probably has a sense of how stressed they are.

Bourne is empathetic with the customer service reps. “I’ve been with the company for 24 years and been in the mail room and done a lot of roles in retail,” she said. “It’s always been tough. We have to make room for some of the emotional moments.”

Verizon currently has a “Call for Kindness” campaign, encouraging people to be nice when dealing with each other.

Of Verizon’s customer service, Bourne said, “It’s a relationship business. While it can be difficult to have the right amount of labor, we think it’s about empowering the frontlines we have.”

In August J.D. Power said that customer purchase satisfaction had gone down in the U.S. wireless industry. It attributed the dissatisfaction to staff retention constraints, shorter representative tenure and less training.

Retail stores

Verizon recently re-branded its Total Wireless prepaid brand to “Total by Verizon.” But Bourne said the company doesn’t have any plans right now to similarly rebrand its other prepaid services such as TracFone.

Asked about its retail store strategy, Bourne said, “We have a history of good channel hygiene. Our brand footprint is optimized every year. There are no major expansions or decreases in our fleet plan.”