How does the biggest wireless carrier in the United States keep their customers happy? All 100 million of them? Provide the best network with the best customer experience and listen. How does Verizon Wireless listen? With a Unified Data Architecture. Rob Smith, Executive Director of IT at Verizon Wireless told our team, “The traditional past of batch-and-blast is really something that's not effective. We're finding that with the insights that we're getting from these customer interactions that we can better target our communications, our marketing efforts and our sales, based on what the customer's individual needs are as opposed to what we as a business think they might need.” Batch and Blast no longer effective? We agree. “Listening” to the customer is the strategy to cut marketing expenses and decrease churn.
But, how did Verizon Wireless change culture and architecture and show value? Read on… because that’s exactly what the combination of IT and Marketing did at Verizon Wireless – and they’ve just begun.
With the vision of looking at the customer from the customer’s perspective, Verizon Wireless created a Unified Data Architecture and their first insights centered on a significant group of Verizon Wireless customers who had been sent a communication that they were going to be disconnected for non-payment within 24 hours. On a different channel these same customers were told they would be disconnected in 48 hours. Verizon Wireless didn’t know they were communicating mixed messages to their customers. What they found out through analytics within their discovery platform was this: those customers went online and made a payment then immediately called the call center. Naturally, the question was WHY?
“It wasn't until we actually incorporated detailed unstructured data into our big data UDA and actually used the discovery platform to garner insights from the interaction of the customer service rep with the customer themselves to find out that: You know what? The customer knew that they made the payment, but they wanted to verify that their phone service wasn't going to be disconnected or wasn't going to be disrupted. So it was a timing thing the customer was concerned about. It was a simple insight like that allowed us to modify our communications and drive that call-in rate down immediately.” Rob Smith, Exec. Director, IT – Verizon Wireless
That one insight improved customer communications and service and just as important saved valuable call center time, reducing costs significantly.
Unified Data Architecture
So how did they do it? We know that’s what most data driven companies want to know. The team at Verizon Wireless looks at data differently. Housing the right data in the right place and eliminating much of the data replication.
“So, the beauty of the UDA for us means that we can not only store the data in the right place, but we can even minimize, or even in a lot of cases eliminate, the replication of data. What we want to do is to store it in the right place, but be able to leverage the data where it sits. Aster with the discovery platform actually allows us to have those connections both to Teradata and the data warehouse as well as our connection into the Hadoop distribution so that we can have the insights on the data that sit in both locations without necessarily having to completely replicate the data as other solutions might require.” Rob Smith, Exec. Director, IT – Verizon Wireless
The other critical factor in Verizon Wireless’ success was partnering with the business to determine what they were looking for in all that data.
“The first step was really going to Rob’s team and saying, hey, here’s the problem we’re trying to solve. We have these large amounts of data. We don’t honestly know where to put it. It isn’t really appropriate to try to put it on the traditional warehouse because it’s a tremendous volume of data and then even if we did that we honestly don’t have a way to process it and get the information out of it that we feel like is locked inside. So that for me, I think, was the first step was those conversations with marketing and IT to really understand.
Well, what is it that we’re trying to do and why is this important and I think that’s the other place where Rob’s team was a really great partner was listening to us talk about what the business benefit was, right? So they were very eager to understand okay, certainly we can deploy a technical platform, but the questions will be, what’s the return on the investment, where’s the capital come from to do this, and what are we hoping to solve, what systems do I need to integrate with?” John Edwards, Director, Digital CRM & Direct Marketing at Verizon Wireless
It gets back to listening to the customers in a way that marketing has never been able to before. With the UDA Verizon Wireless is bringing unstructured voice and text data through Hadoop and determining Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and then mining the data on the discovery platform toultimately get accurate sentiment from the customer. They then match it up and verify in the Teradata Data Warehouse – integrating ALL the data for insights. The sentiment is critical to finding out if new policies, products and/or services are actually aiding customer feelings towards Verizon Wireless. Talk about listening to the customer!
One of the most memorable parts of our conversation was when Rob Smith turned and said, “UDA equals Value.” Rob and John are at the beginning of this leg of their journey with UDA and data and both tell us how much they are looking forward to more innovation and breaking down more silos to ultimately create an even better customer experience for Verizon Wireless users.