During the COVID-19 pandemic, Verizon saw that customers who previously visited a local store to query a bill or upgrade their phone were happy to engage with a Verizon sales specialist over video.

However, the company’s existing technology was not up to the task. Verizon needed a scalable, enterprise-grade platform to seamlessly connect online customers with a store representative over a secure video call.

The company decided to partner with BlueJeans to develop the simple-to-use Video Assist program, which has now been introduced across 1,500 Verizon stores. 

Verizon leveraged BlueJeans’ iOS and web software development kits to build the video experience directly within the sales specialist’s mobile point-of-sale solution and the customer’s browser on verizon.com. Now, customers get a retail-like experience using Video Assist, and Verizon is seeing a boost to its productivity and sales.

A Video Chat Option for Customers

“At the height of the COVID pandemic,” recalls Pranay Bajpai, Verizon’s Executive Director of Software Development, “we were seeing customers by appointment only, with only one customer allowed in a store at a time.

“If there was even a single case of COVID in a store, it would have to close for 14 days, which meant all of that store’s employees would basically be non-functional.”

The company launched a customer video chat option using its existing video conferencing platform, but soon encountered issues. 

“It wasn’t connected to anything and was pretty clunky,” says Bajpai. 

“We realized within a few weeks that we wouldn’t be able to scale it. We had to rethink our whole strategy.”

Creating a Better Solution with BlueJeans

After assessing several platforms, Verizon partnered with BlueJeans to develop an integrated program that would assist customers via video. 

Powered by BlueJeans Meetings, Video Assist connects an online customer directly with a Verizon store representative. When store specialists are not serving a customer in person, they can use an iPad to sign on to the platform and help online customers.

“What I see is, a customer goes on an Android device to make a video call to a sales specialist who’s using an iPad inside a retail store,” says Ryan Tucker, Verizon’s Vice President Consumer Sales, South Central Region. “All of that works on BlueJeans. The previous platform we used didn’t work all the time.” 

Excellent Audio and Video

Retail customers benefit from Video Assist’s outstanding audio quality, which eliminates background noise. There’s also an option to flip the camera perspective, enabling store specialists to show customers products or features they may be interested in.

“Video Assist is optimized for the showroom,” says Tucker. 

“So, a customer might be looking on our digital site and say, ‘Hey, I'm looking at this iPhone. I can see the dimensions, but what does it really look like?’ 

“With Video Assist, a specialist can walk around the store and show the customer the phone. They can handle the payment. They can enter the customer’s information and then arrange to ship it to their house. Or they can organize for the customer to pick it up from the store that’s around the corner.”

The ability to access Verizon’s mPOS directly from the platform is a “complete game changer,” adds Jarrett Dawson, Verizon’s Director of Consumer Sales and Operations. 

Delivering a Retail-like Experience

Feedback from customers has been positive. They can access help whenever and wherever they want it, in a way that feels natural and comfortable.

“As a customer, it’s more personal to be able to see a smiling person with a nametag, standing in front of the Verizon check, than hearing a voice over the phone,” says Akil Mayer, District Manager for Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

“It just kind of helps build the Verizon brand and instill confidence in our product.”

Ken Lain, Verizon’s VP, Sales and Service Operations, agrees: “There’s an additional level of trust that comes from a live video interaction versus a chat session or email.” 

Improving Employee Experience

Verizon employees’ experience has also been positive.

Video Assist uses technology that store specialists are already familiar with, so using the platform is largely intuitive. And switching to the platform during downtime can create new business opportunities and help team members to maintain productivity, enabling them and to achieve their sales targets. 

Taking Video Assist calls also enables store specialists to meet their ‘idle time target’ — speaking with two prospects on the phone each day — without needing to cold-call potential customers. 

“Most employees that choose to work in retail are more comfortable with face-to-face interactions than calling customers,” says Stephen Bozzacco, Verizon’s Director of Sales Program Operations. 

A Boost to Productivity

Video Assist has helped Verizon to increase its productivity and sales.

“With outbound calls, sales reps will see an immediate impact about 10% of the time, meaning they might make 10 calls before they get a conversion,” says Dawson. 

“When they get a conversion, 10% of the time it will happen on day one. With video calls, 45% of conversions happen on day one.”

Tucker adds that over a 30-day period, almost half of customers who transact via video calls convert those transactions. “I think that’s a big deal. We don’t have another product in the portfolio that converts at almost 50%.”

With all Verizon stores now able to access the Video Assist program, the company is focusing on how it can continue to streamline and scale the solution.

“Verizon has 100 million customers,” says Tucker. “If we continue to scale it, who knows how big it could get?”

Watch the video and read the full case study here.

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