This 1 Verizon Customer Support Mistake Impacted Thousands of People and It Could Have Been Prevented

Earlier this summer, wildfires tore through Northern California. In a response to the flames, fire departments needed to have access to large amounts of data in order to conduct their operations.

When fire chiefs in Santa Clara, California requested that Verizon help them achieve faster services, they were redirected to sales and told they should upgrade their plans.

In response to atypical levels of heightened complexity, the firefighters were acting in the interest of public safety. However, Verizon was able to take advantage of this in an attempt to turn a profit.

According to Arstechnica, Verizon throttled their data rates far below normal service capacity. Meaning they were essentially bating them into purchasing a faster package. This isn’t just a poor move on Verizon’s part, it had devastating results.

Rather than just getting more money from fire departments, Verizon’s attempt to reduce data speeds led to firefighters arriving to the wrong location, missing messages, and the technical equivalent of trying to stream the Super Bowl on a dial-up connection.

Instead of gaining customer loyalty, Verizon betrayed it.

Here are a few things you can learn from this when running your business.

Treat your customers the right way, even if it means slashing a policy 

You can replace a policy, not a customer.

A book I refer to often is a culture handbook made by Zappos. In the handbook, Zappos shares their 10 core values. One of my favorite values, which would have helped Verizon tremendously in this situation, is “Culture is not always measured.”

Here is a relevant excerpt.

Just because you can’t measure the ROI of something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. What’s the ROI on hugging your mom?”

Verizon customer support team was so focused on the direct policy of throttling any customer that goes over their limit, they lost the sense of what it means to treat customers the right way.

Empower your team to make the “right” decisions

The problem with restricting the Santa Clara County fire department’s data was that it wasn’t a normal circumstance that led to the restrictions. By all means, the customer service agent did exactly what they were trained to do.

As far as I know the customer service agent could have been a truly compassionate individual that would have made the right decision to un-throttle the connection but was worried that they would lose their job for not following policy.

If Verizon took an approach to empower their team to make the right decision given the circumstance, it would have led to a lot of positive PR, as opposed to what happened.

Recognize the long-term impact of company decisions

One activity I do with my clients is work with them and regularly review their company culture policies. It helps them visualize culture issues and prevent them from happening. It’s possible to define excellence proactively and not react to disasters.

Down the road, this may not hurt Verizon, or it could damage their reputation, only time will tell. However, small decisions can affect the long-term perception of a company.

As mentioned before, be proactive. Don’t let the disaster come to you. Companies should change or update policies, regularly.

Verizon did admit fault, and has strengthened its policies. Much like Starbucks did earlier in 2018. However, the result of this may be too little too late.

In retrospect, Verizon wasn’t malicious intentionally, but this was a good sign that updating polices and being proactive with culture can turn a negative situation into a positive one.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts