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Verizon Wireless has always been the leader when it comes to the market share of customers in the telecommunications industry. It has always encouraged its sales representatives to sell with integrity and confidence. However, sales performance has decreased ever since Apple's iPhone came out on arch rivals AT&T. It has come to the attention of the senior management that the customer service representatives have not been able to convince the customers to sign up with Verizon Wireless because iPhone is far more competent than their Smartphone's. Therefore, Verizon Wireless has not been able to defend its title for being the best in customer service.
This year's Verizon Wireless profits and share prices have been falling sharply and persistently due to the release of Apple's latest iPhone. Furthermore, the company anticipates that profits will relatively be weak this year not just because of iPhone but because of weaknesses in wholesale, corporate segments, and customer service. Among these customer service is the biggest factor that has overshadowed the wireless growth of Verizon Wireless.
The purpose of this report is to what training packages should the Director of Training at Verizon Wireless design for a group of customer service representatives who deal with customers on a day-to-day basis so as to achieve Verizon's strategic goal of being the number one company in customer service. Additionally, the report will evaluate the effectiveness of the training and will attempt to assess the impacts such as morale, commitment, and motivation on the employees resulting from that training.
In preparing this report, valuable recommendations have been created and suggested to the Director of Training at Verizon Wireless by which he will be able to design a training package that shall help the customer service representatives in understanding the purpose of better customer service, attract future customers by convincing them that Verizon's Motorola Droid is better than the iPhone, and make the customer acknowledge that high quality of customer service is more important than product quality and price.
REDUCTION IN SMARTPHONE SALES
Although there are many telecommunication companies in the market who may not have been struck as hard as Verizon Wireless because Verizon and AT&T are the biggest companies with the largest market share as compared to Sprint and T-Mobile. The only thing that makes Verizon customers feel loyal to the organization is their excellence in providing quality customer service. However, due to the recent release of the iPhone on AT&T, customers have often been misguided and mislead in to buying another phone because of which customers feel that they were not handled with care and thus hurting Verizon image in the market.
As the sales representatives feel pressured due to the decreasing sales, their managers and supervisors pressure them to convince the customer at any cost which triggers the event of giving faulty information to the customers which brings a bad name to the company overall. As a result, Smartphone sales have decreased significantly and the Director of Training has been forced to design a training strategy so that the remaining customers are kept away from switching to other carriers.
APPROPRIATE SOLUTION FOR THIS ISSUE
The reason why Verizon is losing its customers is because sales representatives have not been able to convince the customers to sign up with Verizon Wireless because iPhone is far more competent than their Smartphone's. Therefore, a training package is essential if Verizon is to survive the cut throat competition from AT&T.
There are a number of employees who are well trained on how to deal with customers but they are not aware on how to convince the customer for buying a Verizon product over the iPhone. The strenuous workload of Verizon's sales representatives has diminished because fewer people are coming to the stores inquiring about their products. The training will add a newer dimension to their workload which will be beneficial to the individuals themselves and for the organization as a whole.
Some of the other ways of competing with the iPhone would be if Verizon does a joint venture with Apple and releases the Verizon version of the iPhone. As of now, there is no Verizon phone that is operating on a system that matches with Apples operating system. Android operating system phones are close but not quite superior. Verizon Wireless is preparing for the iPhone and has said that Apple may not be ready to release the phone on Verizon but Verizon's network is in great position to meet the heavy demands of downloads and traffic on the data usage (Ante, 2009).
Additionally, Verizon Wireless should designate an amount to market itself as a reliable network rather than marketing itself as an innovator of products. Since Verizon's products are not as competent as AT&T's iPhone it will be an appropriate solution to invest in marketing efforts. They need to advertise what their executive director of network Bill D'Agostino said on network reliability that, "People expect their cell phone to work when they make a call or try get on the internet, that's why we invested nearly $485 million in our California network in 2009, an average of more than 1.3 million a day to give our customers the reliable service they expect" (Networks Update, 2010).
If Verizon is able to deliver the effective advertisements and market itself as a reliable network then Verizon may be able to keep its 91.2 million customers. As reports have shown that television commercials aired in the past helped the company attract 2.2 million customers which was double than what was expected (Kharif, 2010).
BEHAVIOR CHANGE STRATEGY
In order for the training design to be implemented, a change in behavior of employees is required. In this case the behavior change strategy would be to build relationship between customer, employees, investors, and every stakeholder involved who is affected directly or indirectly through company's operations. Secondly, understand different approaches to people and their problems and thereby help in personalizing the work that Verizon does with them. Also, find solutions to their problems and manage and record each individual's performance and progress after training.
Furthermore, the employees need to be motivated so that they develop a desire to learn from the training provided which will help the company in accomplishing the required level of sales. This desire to learn will create self efficacy in them which will steer their performance to attain organizations goals. The Director of Training should design a training package so that sales representatives acquire strategic knowledge which is the awareness of facts and procedures to be applied toward achieving strategic plan which is to defend its title of being the best in customer service. The Director of Training will have to frame the teaching in a way that matches trainee's attitude, perception, and expectations. A thorough follow up with the trainee has to be conducted as well.
NECESSARY TRAINING STYLE
In today's ever changing business environment there is no single training module or style that can solve a training issue. Every training package is designed in a way that combines all the styles of training such as on-the-job training, lectures, audio techniques, demonstrations, role plays, and visual techniques.
The training designed for the sales representatives should be a combination of on the job training, lectures, and audio visual techniques. This type of training design would be most useful because every employee or sales representative has his or her way of learning and keeping this in mind will make the training effective and part of a well-coordinated training program. As Markus Taylor suggests that lectures can be used "because of their low cost and their capacity to reach many people" this in this case would be the employees or sales representatives who deal with customers on a day-to- day basis (2009).
EXPERIENCES OF COMPETITORS ON TRAINING
Although all the competitors may have had to develop training packages for their employees but it may differ because every country has its own norm, traditions, and culture. The way of learning may be different but the strategies and styles of training will remain the same no matter what the company is and to what industry it belongs to.
The training designed can provide benefit to the organization as well as the organization. The benefit to the organization would be in the sense that this training will help employees or sales representatives become better at providing quality customer service to the customers. On the other hand, this training design will help the employees in a sense that it can boost their confidence level; they will be able to understand the purpose of providing excellent customer service and hence convincing the customer to buy the company's product and services.
The cost of this training will not be sky high because the training will be mostly a combination of lectures from the Director himself or demonstrations and role plays. There is no cost associated with it. The only cost that will be incurred would be the time.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES FOR THE TRAINEES
The following are the learning objective for the group of sales representatives to be trained so as to increase the Smartphone sales:
Trainee will be able to understand the purpose of better customer service.
Trainee will be able to attract future customers for the employer.
Trainee will be able to understand high quality of customer service is more important than product quality.
Trainee will feel more confident when selling the company's product and services with integrity.
The trainee will be motivated and determined to work at his or her fullest capacity.
TRAINING DELIVERY AND A SAMPLE LESSON
The trainee's consists of employees who deal with customers in their day-to-day operations and job tasks so as to achieve the strategic plan of the company of being number one in customer service.
The Director will have to start off the lectures with outlining the key learning objectives of the training sessions which will be followed by a small presentation on what the training will be about, what skills are needed to become number one company in customer service, and why are these skills needed.
Furthermore, he will have to guide the learners through the scenarios, discuss the tasks and set up possible Role play groups. Since one of the types of training recommended is Demonstration, the Director will have to demonstrate how to effectively handle a customer and make a lasting impression by picking out a volunteer who wants to participate.
All of this will be followed by the Director highlighting the important points that were learned during the training session and he shall review the learning objectives of the training session. However, the training may seem very effective at the beginning but it is essential for the Director to evaluate the success of the newly trained employees ("Customer service skills-to," 2007).
EVALUATION OF THE TRAINING
The Director should go over the content and demonstration of the training which should be followed by the role play activities so that trainees know what to do when they return to their job activities. Furthermore, to evaluate their performance he can pass out the learner activity sheet in which there will be questions regarding the training completed. Each student will have to answer the questions in their own writing. When they are finished, the answers will be discussed aloud and will be reviewed by the Director himself and the upper management.
Other ways of evaluating the success of the newly trained employees would be to plot a graph of sales percentage before and after training. If the training goes according to the design the sales percentage will increase.
Figure 1 illustrates the increment in sales percentage as a result of training the sales representatives. The sales percentage has more than doubled as a result of training in the year 2010. In 2008, the increase in the percentage of sales was 6 percent where as in 2010 the increase in the percentage of sales is 10 percent as a result of this training. It is evident that the training designed when delivered will reap the highest results and ultimately the company will achieve its strategic goal of retaining the title of best company in providing customer service.
Verizon Wireless's sales grow as a result of training
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Verizon wireless is currently losing its loyal customers everyday because of the stiff competition caused by the iPhone release on AT&T. My recommendation to the Director of Training at Verizon Wireless is go ahead with the training suggestion for the employees or the sales representatives.
The types of training suggested will help the company achieve its organizational and strategic goals while keeping the personal goals of the individuals involved in mind. Basically, dividing the training will help the employees become more confident about their job duties and become confident with the customers on a day to day basis because they lacked interpersonal skills and by providing those employees with training such as demonstrations and role plays, they can improve their skills which will help them in their daily lives and yet achieve the strategic goal of the company.
If the training is not delivered properly then there is a possibility that the results shown in figure 1 may differ. In this case Verizon Wireless should consider taking these important steps or recommendations:
Release an iPhone competent phone. Senior management along with the technical experts should consider releasing a phone that competes with the iPhone such as a phone with the same capabilities of applications and emails. They may collaborate with Google in creating an Android operating system phone that has the same abilities as the latest iPhone or perhaps they should consider Nokia with their Symbian Operating system. If Verizon Wireless releases an equivalent Smartphone then loyal customers are bound to stay with Verizon along with attracting new customers.
Reduce unnecessary expenses. The Director of Finance should discuss with the Director of Marketing about the spending of allocated funds so that the burden of lesser sales can be shared. I would not recommend spending large sums of money on marketing like other companies do because as long as Verizon Wireless does not come out with an equivalent phone people or customers will be reluctant to buy Verizon Wireless products and services.
Replacing bad salesman with a good salesman. The management and the supervisors should become proactive rather than being reactive when it comes to evaluating the performance of the trainees. The management should start monitoring each sales representative individually and try to make a competition between the same job responsibilities so that any under performer is caught and given training and over performers are recognized for their efforts.
An effective communication system. Since Verizon Wireless has a tall hierarchical structure it is important that there is a strong internal organizational communication system that conveys every message from top to bottom and from the bottom to the top. The existing communication system at Verizon Wireless may be suitable with today's business environment. However, the business environment is changing persistently and every company is altering and repositioning its business culture so as to fit in today's ever changing business environment. Verizon Wireless from my standpoint is using the old fashioned way of communicating with the employees which is to send electronic mails often known as e-mails. These days, employees are using text messaging as a medium to communicate with others. The senior management team should allow the use of text messaging to serve as a basis of communicating with the employees. Also they could encourage the use of technological advancements such as the use of Blogs, PodCasts, and Wikis.
Because these recommendations may not be required after training but it is important for the Director of Training to consider these points because he has to remain proactive because Verizon is losing more and more customers with the passage of time. If the training designed does not produce the required results, the Director will have to go with the above recommendation if he wants to save the future of his company because loyalty of customers and customer service are the two only things keeping Verizon Wireless intact together.