What if you could build your next product together with your prospective customers?

If you could, you would build precisely what they want. You would tailor it to their specifications and undoubtedly have a happy customer.

This simple principle lies at the core of our next-generation customer experience tools and the new look desktop views frontline Verizon employees use to serve our customers.

As an IT team, our clients are Verizon employees who set out to serve our customers everyday. Our shared goal is simple: Reduce customer effort.

The Balance Between Authentic and Simple

Even though more than half of all Verizon customer contacts happen on digital channels -- from the push of a remote button, click of a mouse, or swipe of a touch screen -- millions of customers reach us by telephone each week.

“We see each conversation as an opportunity to deepen our relationship with the customer,” explains Ken Lain, vice president of wireline national operations.

The traditional call center feedback loop depends on information from multiple data sources and usually from a desktop computer. Employees receive feedback hours or more likely days after a call has taken place. Unfortunately, by that time the customer has usually moved on -- with or without resolution.

For some time now my colleagues at Verizon and I have wrestled with the idea of providing real-time coaching to call center representatives, and giving a supervisor the opportunity to step-in and assist the representative if necessary -- while the customer is on the phone.

After a thorough search in the vendor community, we realized that if we wanted this tool, we’d likely have to build it ourselves. So we built it.

Co-Creating with End Users

We recruited more than 90 frontline employees, including call center supervisors and customer representatives. They really took the technology into their hands and began to shape it.

Throughout development of our real-time mobile representative training tool — now called Mobile Coach — we shared the latest version or update with this crew of power users. They’d turn it on its head allowing us to discover more and more about the technologies.

We went through several cycles of development consisting of build, test, taking the findings and incorporating them. And then testing again.

Three months later, Mobile Coach is in everyone one of our call centers, and nowhere is the change more evident than in the company’s Silver Spring, Maryland center.

During a pilot phase of Mobile Coach, we saw a 10 percent increase in close rate and a 10 percent increase in first call resolutions. Also, coaching sessions improved from 1.5 per rep/month to 4.    

“It’s incredibly helpful and rewarding to be able to work with a representative in real time to help our customers. We can improve this customer experience, right now, not days after the fact,” said Frederick Wheatley, a manager in Silver Spring.

Co-creating with the end user, in this case employees, helped us stay focused on reducing customer effort. It also created a shared sense of ownership and a tool the frontline was confident using.

Mobile Coach is just one example of how we’re developing at Verizon, and engaging our employees in using and creating the tools they rely on to better serve our customers.