140 West Street, 29th Floor
New York, New York 10007
From the desk of
Ivan G. Seidenberg,
Chairman and Chief Executive
John G. Stratton
Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
cc. Board of Directors
I am shielded from the public and have to rely on what I am told. I had no idea how chaotic our marketing operations had become. Research conducted among Verizon customers shows that:
– Our policy of never putting a quotation on paper and never confirming anything in writing may save overheads but ends up costing us more when an angry customer gets his first bill and ties up the accounts department in an angry dispute. This may be acceptable in a developing country but brings Verizon into disrepute and makes it a laughing stock. There should be a letter sent to enquirers setting out what we are offering and what it costs. Almost every other reputable company, even immigrant painters and decorators have to do this. So should we.
– Our sales staff are shockingly badly trained and ill–equipped to deal with customers. When phoning in customers can be told quite different things about the same service. There is huge confusion, for instance, about the difference between Freedom Essentials and Triple Freedom Essentials, their component services and their cost. Where everything is done by word of mouth misunderstandings arise.
– Customers cannot rely on the information given coinciding with what they are invoiced for. This is a large, respectable public corporation, quoted on the Stock Exchange. It is not, or should not be, a fly–by–night cowboy operation.
– One customer, for instance, claims to have spent over 3 hours trying to ascertain what he would be charged for voice, internet and Direct TV, and during that time spoke to people in Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, California, New Jersey and Virginia and was referred elsewhere (incorrectly) at each stage. Several of the Sales staff either leave customers hanging on the line for 5 to 10 minutes, without telling them that they will be attended to, or they or even hang up on them. This is discourteous and bad for business.
– I was unaware that when offering some of our bundles it has been the habit of the Marketing Department to send emails to customers informing them that they have just purchased products totally unrelated to any order they have recently placed. For instance, reports have been received that emails have thanked customers for orders for games and anti-virus products that the customer has never heard of and doesn’t want. The customer then has to spend half an hour trying to get these bogus orders cancelled. This is dishonest and shabby and is to be expected chiefly in an oriental bazaar.
– I tried to phone the company as if I were a new customer. The whole system is confusing and badly thought–out. There are too many phone numbers, most leading to menus which ask you to choose between “ billing & payments”,“ new products”, “discontinuing service” etc., but with no clear option for “orders” or “customer service”. The customer has to guess and is kept waiting far too long for a response. This adds to the general impression of chaos.
I expect Verizon to be a professionally run company. We are making oodles of cash, but from consumers who simply don’;t have the time to argue about their incorrect bills. This is not a sustainable business model.
It is with regret that I have to announce that your job, and that of the U.S sales and marketing staff, will, as from June 1st, 2009, be outsourced to the Philippines. In the Philippines our sub-contractors seem to be desperate to do a good job, despite the fact that they are untrained and know very little about Verizon. With a little bit of effort we can now train them to give customers the service they deserve.
I would like to thank you for your past service to the Company. Like any executive who is asked to leave a big U.S monopoly having failed in his job, we will give you 5 years salary and severance pay of $20 million.
P.S: I gather AT&T needs Chief Marketing Officer. I’ll put in a word for you.
April 30th, 2009