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Analytics help Verizon better serve SMBs

Verizon has seen a 250% improvement in campaign close rates and has reduced the number of customers each of its reps serves by half.

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In 2008, Verizon embarked on a journey to move from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach that would look holistically at customers, allow micro-segmentation and focus on meeting the needs of specific verticals and business types as a way to develop targeted products.

What resulted was a transformation of sales and marketing channels, which had to address increasing competition from cable providers and new IP-base entrants. The goal was to create value-added solutions targeted to medium-sized business — a complex, highly fragmented market of 175,000 companies.

“We would purchase third-party data and piece it with our own, but we lacked a customer-centric view.” said Diane Brown, director of medium business marketing and channel strategy. “Also channel coverage overlapped, and lead lists were inaccurate and created too slowly.”

To address the issue, a 360-degree view was needed so that solutions could be tailored and bundles and offers sized according to what the customers needed. By working with Accenture and SAS, Verizon integrated analytics into its IT infrastructure so that Verizon data could be integrated and aggregated with third-party data. “We decided what data was pertinent to sales strategies by interviewing the most successful Verizon reps, which helped us decide what new customer data should be infused onto pre-existing sales desktop tools,” Brown said. “We worked with benchmarking to see which sales forces were most successful and what data they were hungry for to be successful.” The desktop views were then modeled so that reps could toggle between the types of data they wanted, without having to build it themselves.

Rather than log onto a number of different sales systems, sales reps now get a full picture of customers in one view, through which they see what customers they have and get information about the types of customer or vertical each company represents.

This facilitates micro-segmentation, in which customers are evaluated based on many criteria, including employee or line size, as well as current products and services, number of sites, service addresses, what vertical is served, what are key challenges and goals, who the decision-makers are — all in one place. For example, an industry campaign directed at the health care market generated close rates three times higher than those for non-vertical campaigns. By analyzing the unique needs of medical practitioner offices, sales and marketing reps could talk about business requirements, such as reducing scheduling and administrative expenses and the total cost of ownership, as well as other needs around risk, security and compliance. That helped Verizon customize solutions for its health care customers.

The micro-segmented campaigns now generate a 25% higher revenue lift on average over non-targeted campaigns, and identifying target lists takes one-third the time it used to (from three weeks to one week). “Campaigns that used to take a month can now be done in a day,” Brown said, noting that in 2009, Verizon campaign close rates (sales) improved by more than 250% over 2008. She attributed that to micro-segmentation.

As a result of that initiative, Verizon managed to reduce the number of customers each rep serves by half, and it generates a 25% higher revenue lift on average over non-targeted campaigns.

Though that project was started primarily for marketing, it has had other benefits in that it has strengthened revenue management as well. “Creating customized solutions and now tailoring solutions has helped us to get our arms around revenue management so that we know where to dedicate channels for channel optimization,” Brown said, noting better management of marketing budgets translates into more results in marketing and sales for the same money.

It’s easier to determine which customers require what coverage because more is known about each customer. “We now have better price-to-value propositions and customers now have access to the right channels to accommodate their needs — with larger, more complex customers generally working with Verizon field reps, and smaller mainstream customers with less complex needs using our call center reps,” said Brown.

SAS and Accenture added another benefit this past May, when Verizon automated campaigns in real time through a Web-based tool created to help create and push campaigns into the sales channel, as well as track their returns. The real-time access to data frees up sales and marketing people to do more high-end predictive modeling, such as identifying customers at risk of churn, developing appropriate interventions and looking for up-sell opportunities.

Microsegmentation gives what Verizon deems “a quantum leap forward” in its ability to customize solutions. “We can constantly tweak our portfolio and channel coverage to grow with our customers as they expand, as well as deliver solutions that enable them to meet their business objectives,” Brown said. “We can develop channel contact strategies that broaden our customer relationships. And we can drive innovation into the customer experience.”

The next iteration of analytics will involve a “refresh” of data and segmentation capabilities to better match customers to products and services that are a strategic fit. “We continue to work on improving both segmentation and channel optimization to make sure we are right-sizing as customers move and shift their focus,” Brown said. “Analytics don’t stand still, so month over month we review what to do to further improve.”

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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