Verizon’s new CX leader wants to quash customer pain points

  • Verizon has brought all its customer experience teams together under one department headed by Brian Higgins

  • Nearly 75% of Verizon’s customer calls are a result of a “break” in the customer experience, often small but annoying issues

  • AI will play a big role in Verizon’s customer experience revamp

Verizon is making big moves to revamp its customer experience (CX) and make it a competitive differentiator, much in the same way the company previously used network quality as a competitive advantage. 

Brian Higgins Verizon
Brian Higgins (Verizon )

Brian Higgins was recently named the company’s first chief customer experience officer and tasked with overseeing Verizon Consumer Group’s CX organization. In addition, the company hired former Walmart executive Dory Butler as SVP of CX.

Higgins has a long history with Verizon and previously worked in the company’s device marketing and consumer product group. He also worked in network implementation, product development and long-term technology planning.

Besides promoting Higgins and hiring Butler, Verizon made some organizational changes by bringing all of its customer experience employees together in one department, rather than having them isolated in different departments throughout the company. “Verizon had a number of different organizations focused on customer experience,” Higgins said. “But we didn’t have it as a focus point.”

By bringing everyone together into one organization, Verizon hopes to develop a “customer-first mentality” and encourage members of the customer experience team to share their expertise.

“Many individuals on my team have spent decades with Verizon,” Higgins said, adding that these individuals have weathered numerous network upgrades, price plan modifications, promotional offers and device upgrades. “They understand how to get things done at the company.”

CX Priorities

Higgins has some big CX goals for Verizon. The first of which is to remove customer pain points, which he describes as the “little things here and there that need refining.” For example, Higgins said that nearly 75% of calls to customer service are a result of something breaking in the experience, often small issues but nevertheless annoyance to the customer.

The second goal is to improve the company’s digital sales channel. Higgins said that like many wireless operators, Verizon is seeing a growing number interactions with customers through its digital channel rather than its stores.

And finally, Higgins wants to improve customer awareness of the many services that Verizon offers. For example, he said that Verizon has a service called “Pro on the Go,” where a Verizon rep will deliver a new device to the customer’s home and provide them with a tutorial on the device. But most customers don’t know this service exists. “We need to do a better job of marketing it,” he said.

Using AI to Streamline CX

One of the first tasks that Higgins and his team are undertaking is using artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver the appropriate information to customer care specialists so that they can efficiently help customers. Higgins said that there are more than 10,000 articles in Verizon’s archives that provide details on any topic, promotion or problem that a customer may be having.

“A customer could be calling about a price plan that we offered five or 10 years ago. We have to make it efficient for employees to tap into that information without it becoming a burden to them,” he said.

AI can help with this because it can quickly sift through all that historic information and deliver it to the customer service reps instantaneously. “We are working to make it efficient and accurate,” Higgins said. “That’s a major effort right now.”

Not only is Verizon using AI to sort through historic information, it’s also using it to deliver a more personalized experience to customers. For example, AI can analyze information from a customer’s profile and deliver the best price plan or device to the customer.

However, Higgins is careful to not reveal all of Verizon’s AI plans for the future. He said that while many of the big hyperscalers are very focused on AI there are also smaller players that are working on more niche offerings too. 

Higgins also believes generative AI holds promise for Verizon as a way to differentiate itself from competitors. “We feel like we can create meaningful differentiation by building and developing new tools.”