Recently, I was asked which industry I thought every consumer would rank as having the highest number of unpleasant customer service experiences. Without a doubt, I answered the telecom industry. Most people would certainly agree as even comedians find cable companies an easy target for a joke about poor service. Although telecom providers get a bad rap on customer service satisfaction, to be fair it isn’t an easy task to be the backbone of our connected lives. I can only imagine the high volume of complaints received by their contact centers daily. As a result, when a major player in this industry introduces a breakthrough in customer service innovation, it doesn’t take long for their peers to take notice and plan their own copycat version.

Verizon Introduces Live Video Support

Recently, Verizon Fios introduced such innovation by providing their customer support agents with a video support capability. Enabling customer representatives with “rep guidance” tools is part of the strategic customer experience initiative described by Tami Erwin, Vice President of National Operations in this Forbes’ interview. In an effort to promote this new customer experience, Verizon hired John McEnroe, a former American World No. 1 professional tennis player to play the role of a frustrated customer who tries to get started with his Verizon set-top box. If you’ve never seen John McEnroe outside a tennis court, here is your chance:

Live Video Support Helps Agents and Customers to Help Each Other

As demonstrated in this video, whenever hardware is involved in a support request, there is clear justification to provide video support tools to customer support reps. By seeing the connections on the back of Mr. McEnroe’s set-top box, the agent could immediately understand the problem. There was a cable connected to the wrong connector and the agent was able to guide Mr. McEnroe to reconnect the cable correctly. This type of request would have been challenging to resolve with text chat or voice only. Adding live video support has not only reduced the time required for an agent to diagnose a problem, but has also enabled Mr. McEnroe’s request to be resolved during the first call. Beyond cost savings, Verizon shows us how a great customer service experience can turn an angry customer into an advocate.

First-contact resolution is an important customer service KPI in most industries as customers’ discontentment often originates from the many repeated interactions required to solve a technical issue. Here, the Verizon example teaches us that trivial technical problems can be solved at first contact with the help of live video assistance.

Verizon Fios (