Hal Hawkins, Director, Global Support Operations Call Centers, Verizon

Hawkins analyzed the customer experience to eliminate any nonsensical processes that led to customer dissatisfaction.
Customer Service

The Tech Support Simplifier

When Verizon split Operational Responsibility between sales/service and tech support in March 2015, Hawkins immediately turned his attention toward "process simplification" within the contact center. Hawkins wanted to dive into the minutia that generated less than ideal customer experiences and eliminate any nonsensical processes that led to customer dissatisfaction.

For instance, when new high-speed Internet (HSI) customers who performed self-installs called to check on the status of their service, tech support representatives would reference their process guides, which prompted them to tell the customer that work was still being performed on their order and to call back after 9 p.m. Such roadblocks often hinder satisfaction and retention, especially on their first day with a new company. To eliminate this obstacle, Hawkins removed such messaging immediately and provided contact center associates with a revised process that allowed them to work on issues they could resolve, and commit to a scheduled callback for issues that were anomalies or needed additional time to fix. Hawkins also trained a specialized group to take action on unusual situations and follow up with the customer, thereby alleviating customer wait times and ensuring problems received the deserved attention.

Why is he a Customer Champion?

Hal empowers employees to solve problems by providing them with the tools and resources necessary to satisfy customer needs and deliver customer experience with empathy and efficiency.

Champion In Action

Despite all the years Hal has spent in the industry, he believes the keys to success when delivering customer experience can be found in the clich?pearls of wisdom his late grandmother used to bestow upon him: good manners cost nothing; treat others how you would want to be treated; and do it right the first time. He has worked tirelessly to bring these values to life and ensure Verizon's "process simplification" promptly connects customers with individual associates best equipped to resolve their issues by eliminating unnecessary transfers, holding statements, and callback recommendations, ultimately improving first call resolution (FCR) as a result.

Overall, Hawkins' attitude has changed his team's approach to quality assurance, business change, and performance management. "Quality assurance call observations are now focused on the entire customer experience, with 'checkbox' and scored QA observation forms becoming a thing of the past," Hawkins explains. "Every process [Verizon's] call centers use is viewed through the customers' eyes for effectiveness and effort. Performance management techniques are now much more balanced. Historically, the routines were almost exclusively compliance-based-Did the representative do what she was supposed to do?-whereas today the overarching focus now is resolution-based-Did the representative fix the customer's issue?"

Hawkins' dedication to improving the customer experience and his desire to solve customer issues proficiently upon first contact ultimately led to the removal of unnecessary transfers, holding statements, and callback recommendations. Instead, Verizon now focuses on finding the correct individual within the company, or its strategic partners, who's equipped to resolve the given customer's issue right away. Hawkins guarantees that his employees have all the tools and resources necessary, so they may bypass antiquated or illogical processes and focus on the issue at hand. Eliminating the stress associated with informing the customer they need to be transferred or to call back later inevitably produces a happier, more confident support organization.

Big Results

By reducing the hurdles between first outreach and problem resolution, Hawkins and his team have been able to boost CSAT scores, drive loyalty, reduce churn, and create positive word-of-mouth. Over the past four years, Verizon improved FCR within the tech support call center enterprise by 10 percent. For support organizations of this size, even a 1 percent uptick can result in thousands of fewer calls, reducing volumes and support costs as a result. Hawkins, however, has helped create a new dynamic by balancing quality and cost, or first call resolutions and average handle time, as the case may be, thereby giving contact center associates the freedom to take the right amount of time to resolve an individual customer's issue, creating the resolution culture Hawkins always envisioned.