HFI | Verizon case study

Verizon - E-commerce website

Verizon.com needed superior user experience design to provide the best online service for its customers. It chose HFI training for its eCommerce team — and leveraged that usability expertise to win “Best in Class” from The Customer Respect Group and “Ten Best Web Support Sites” ranking from the Association of Support Professionals (ASP).

The challenge

In the hypercompetitive communications industry, the battle is as much for the customers you have as for the ones you don’t. To keep “churn” rates down, providers need to marry breakthrough products with breakthrough customer service. So, Verizon set out to design the best online account management and e-support experience for seamless customer service at Verizon.com.

Technically and operationally, creating a single, online customer service presence was no simple matter. It meant bringing telecom and wireless websites together, integrating two completely different web interfaces with distinct architectures and unique design standards — to say nothing of the support, billing, and other business operations under those umbrellas, each one with its own ownership and culture.

Verizon’s integration initiative was an opportunity to reevaluate and relaunch its entire online customer service presence. What was working? What wasn’t? How could the user experience be made better and more consistent?

“We were looking aggressively for ways to make huge improvements,” says Mark Studness, Director of eCommerce at Verizon. The eCommerce team is the business function responsible for Verizon’s entire end-to-end online customer experience. They work with designers, usability practitioners, and other resources to guide an idea through its entire lifecycle, from concept to delivery and beyond.

The HFI approach

Verizon looked to HFI for user experience training for their eCommerce team.“We had to build a great website,” says Studness, “one that really served our customers’ needs. And how do you build a great website? You have to have the people with the right skills. That was the way to achieve our integration project and make significant improvement in our sites and online customer service.” Studness’s approach to the relaunch and integration project reflected his strategic leadership style. “I invest in our people’s skill sets. At the end of the day, they are the ones who are going to make this site better.” He discovered HFI’s Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) training program. The 10-day instructor-led training proved popular with team members, who felt the course was thorough, research-based, and grounded in practice. To date, more than 95 professionals from Verizon have received CUA training and certification.

The result

Verizon.com could not have gotten a more robust ROI from its HFI training. Leveraging their new understanding of user experience design, the Verizon E- Commerce team helped Verizon.com designers and usability practitioners solve numerous technical and design challenges as they relaunched Verizon.com’s customer service interface. The support team achieved Studness’ goal of creating the best possible online customer experience.

Beating the competition also created a crucial differentiator in a closely-fought market, one that garnered acclaim from industry analysts. The Customer Respect Group awarded Verizon.com “Best in Class” ranking in their 2008 Online Customer Service Study of Telecommunications Industry Websites. With continued improvement guided by CUAs in the eCommerce team, Verizon won the award again in 2009, the only provider to achieve an “Excellent” rating in two successive years.

Verizon.com then won the Association of Support Professionals (ASP) 12th Annual “Ten Best Web Support Sites” competition, based on its excellence in online service and support. In naming Verizon.com’s E-Support site one of the “Ten Best,” the ASP singled out Verizon.com’s quadruple-play integration, and validated the customer-centered approach fostered by the HFI training.

Because the new Verizon.com sets a new standard in customer service, it also saves Verizon a significant amount of money. User experience design anticipates and meets customer expectations, making the online experience attractive and satisfying. Customers are more likely to conduct their business online, when each successful interaction — a bill paid, a question answered, or a product or service sold is easy. Successful online interactions result in fewer calls to a call center. Each call center interaction is much more expensive than an online transaction. So, creating online customer service excellence creates call deflections, which translates into significant cost savings.

The monthly savings returned Verizon’s investment in HFI training very quickly. In 2009 savings generated by e-Support and Account Management transactions increased by 38% representing savings of $50MM.

“Verizon was the first and, to date, the only provider to offer an integrated online customer service experience across the four key products: TV, internet, telephone and wireless. Verizon came out on top of our provider review in all aspects including, and most critically, the usability criteria.”

Terry Golesworthy - President of The Customer Respect Group

“We have definitely incorporated the principles in HFI training into our operations. There is a heightened sense of satisfaction from the employees who appreciate the company’s investment in them. Moreover, they gain confidence and professionalism from having knowledge they can apply day to day, creating customer service excellence in their web projects. The awards Verizon.com received are what really came out of the HFI training program.”

Mark Studness - Director of eCommerce

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