Verizon already had a tech-savvy approach to retail before the health crisis unfolded, but the pandemic accelerated when it brought new innovations to market. Now, more than 87% of Verizon’s transactions include an element of its Touchless Retail experience, saving customers’ time and helping when store staff needs to be more nimble.
Verizon has more than 1,500 corporate retail stores located across the country and partners with thousands of independent authorized retailers, as well as major retail chains like Best Buy. During the early months of the pandemic, not only was Verizon an essential business, but its services were more in demand than ever, Krista Bourne, SVP sales and operations, Verizon Consumer Group, tells RIS. Bourne, who leads sales and operations for Verizon’s consumer business, which serves over 100 million customers across the country, notes it wasn’t just Verizon stores that were in demand.
“Once we realized that people were calling us more for sales and customer service, we were able to redeploy some of our retail employees — whose store might have been temporarily closed — to those parts of our business,” Bourne says. “This allowed them to still serve our customers in business critical roles.”
Verizon also launched “Touchless Retail,” which features physical and digital elements to ensure seamless, safe transactions. In addition to social distancing markers, clear partitions, and face covering requirements for employees and customers, one of the most innovative features of the retail strategy is the ability to set an appointment online or through the My Verizon app, which helped customers determine if they needed to visit a store or whether their issue could be resolved through the website or app.
Touchless Retail also includes touchless payments using cash or credit cards, as well as the ability to sign the terms and conditions electronically.
“We implemented it during the pandemic, but most elements of Touchless Retail were on our digital journey roadmap and already in the works,” Bourne explains. “The pandemic just accelerated when we brought the elements to market.”
Almost every aspect of Verizon’s current evolution of retail is enabled by technology.
“The goal is to make the experience more efficient, and quite honestly more enjoyable, for the customer,” Bourne says. “Most of the technology that our customers will see involves our My Verizon app. Customers can complete almost all of the same transactions through the app as they can at the store, with the exception of a critical few. Customers want that independence and the ability to determine when and where they transact business.”
After launching Touchless Retail, there are some areas where Verizon has seen immediate success that contribute to an overall great customer experience. The retailer launched curbside pickup this summer and has already seen more than 330,000 curbside pickup orders. Separately, customers have set nearly one million appointments to visit Verizon's stores this year and more than 87% of Verizon’s transactions include an element of its Touchless Retail experience.
“These are huge behavior changes that are saving our customers hours of their valuable time and are helping us during times when our store staff needs to be more nimble,” Bourne says. “Also, it’s important to note that we still have a number of enhancements in the works. It really is an evolution for us.”
Bourne notes that the idea of Verizon developing Touchless Retail quickly is actually a falsehood.
“We were able to quickly implement changes to our experience because we had already been planning for it as part of our strategy. We understood what it meant for our customers and what it meant for our business. What we moved quickly on was the implementation.”
Her advice to retailers during the health crisis is to continue to track and plan for the changes in consumer behaviors.
“The market will tell you when you need to move quicker or slower than your plan.”