For Verizon, Connecting with Customers Starts with Data

Ruth Farley, associate director of Internet sales and marketing at Verizon Wireless, sheds light on the company's customer strategy.
Customer Experience

Telecommunications companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are locked in a highly competitive race where price and product features are no longer enough to differentiate their brands. Telecom companies are looking for other ways to stand out and enhancing the customer experience has become a priority.

1to1 Media spoke with Ruth Farley, associate director of Internet sales and marketing at Verizon Wireless, about her company's road map for providing more personalized and consistent experiences across channels.

1to1 Media: What's your customer experience philosophy?
Ruth Farley: It sounds clich?but I want customers to come away with a happy face. The next evolution is when they come [to us] for one reason and because of the data we know about them, we can give them something they didn't expect and make them happier. We want to be a company that anticipates our customers' needs versus waiting for them to tell us what they need.

Where do you see opportunities to provide better experiences?
We have many opportunities because of the data we have access to. We look at who comes to our site, if they're a prospect or existing customer, and we try to connect with them through a continuous conversation. By default, most sites, including ours, are organized in a siloed manner. From a personalization perspective, we need to cut across that with a continuous message, wherever the customer is on our site.

What marketing products are you excited about?
RF: I think [Adobe's] Audience Manager is a cool product and I hope we can leverage it. From a conceptual perspective, it would be great to take our customer base and augment it with other data to extend our audience. But we're a big company that has been around for decades and we have a complex infrastructure. My concern from a business owner's perspective is how we'll integrate that with our existing technology.

Do you find more value in best of breed or holistic solutions?
RF: It's give and take. It's very hard to get the pure form of any one installation or product suite. If you can take that product suite and maximize it to the fullest extent by augmenting it with other things, that's your sweet spot. But it's a challenge, especially in big companies where you have so many groups using different systems.

What mobile behavior trends do you see developing?
RF: More than 50 percent of our mobile traffic skews toward shopping or browsing but conversion rates are still much lower when it comes to purchasing on mobile. More people still seem to prefer going into an actual store or purchasing from a desktop.

How are you connecting your in-store customer data with your online data?
RF: It starts with the data. Do we know who you are and what you've done in any of our channels? When you go into a store and talk to an associate, the information is fed into a master Verizon profile that we use in the retail channels as well as online and through our CRM, telesales, and chat teams. And if a customer comes to the website or our mobile site and purchases the product in our store within two weeks, we consider that an omnichannel contribution. For us, people still do their research online but ultimately make the purchase in a store.

The next step that we're working on is the content we serve up. One of the things we're focused on is deploying a centralized content management system, not just for the web, but ultimately for our CRM team and our retail channels to make sure we're all providing the same content like messages and offers. We already do that, but it's a little slow and painful. 2015 is focused on integrating our technology to make it more scalable.

What's on your road map for further personalizing interactions with customers?
RF: We're really focused on the integrated experience, not just on our website, but also with our media and CRM team. As they send communications to our customers, the questions we're thinking of are how do we carry that conversation from the first click throughout the site? And how do we make sure we're not repeating the same message but instead making the messages fresh as customers move through different touch points? Also, when is it enough to say that message isn't working for that customer? We're working through some of those questions now.