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| | Verizon Replaces Field Technicians’ Laptop PCs with BlackBerry Smartphones
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BlackBerry - Partner Press Release
Verizon Partner Solutions Uses First-of-its-Kind Network Application to Replicate functions of 8-Pound Laptop PC on 5-Ounce Wireless Smartphone Compact Smartphones Offer Big Benefits to VPS Unit and its Customers |
ORLANDO, FL – WIRELESS ENTERPRISE SYMPOSIUM 2008- The Verizon Partner Solutions (VPS) unit and its force of 2,250 field technicians and managers are experiencing big boosts in mobility and operating efficiency – enhancing their ability to deliver higher levels of customer satisfaction – after replacing their 8 pound laptop PCs with 5 ounce BlackBerry® 8703e smartphones from Research In Motion (RIM).
Using a new, first-of-its-kind network solution developed by Verizon, the specially-configured BlackBerry devices are being used to deliver the same computing and data communications functions as the retired PCs at a fraction of the size, weight and cost of a laptop computer.
Verizon Partner Solutions is a wholesale provider of networks and network services to wireless, Internet, cable and telephone companies based in the U.S. VPS field technicians use automated electronic systems and software applications to manage their daily service workflow, which includes the critical tasks of installing, maintaining and repairing services for customers.
“Prior to the deployment of the BlackBerry smartphones, technicians working at remote locations in the field could only connect using laptop PCs,” said Diane McCarthy, senior vice president of customer experience for Verizon Partner Solutions. “It was a cumbersome process that limited their access to routine work assignment, testing, close-out and time-reporting applications, and their ability to communicate job status updates to customers and supervisors.”
“What we were hearing from our techs in the field was a call for a new communications tool that would empower them to better manage their work assignments and fulfill customer requests more efficiently,” said Charles Henry, vice president of systems management for Verizon Partner Solutions. “We took their suggestions to our IT group and determined that a wireless smartphone could be the answer. But we couldn’t find an existing product that fulfilled all of our techs’ needs. So, working with our colleagues at Verizon Wireless and a team of vendors, our IT group built this new first-of-its-kind wireless solution for us.”
The new solution was designed to address four key technician requirements.
Portability: Reducing the volume of equipment technicians hand-carry into and out of worksites saves time by preventing repeat trips, which in urban areas can stretch for several city blocks. Carried on a belt or in a pocket, the hands-free portability of the Blackberry 8703e increases a technician’s carrying capacity by removing the laptop PC from their gear load.
Speed: Because the smartphones are always-on they give each technician fast access to the systems and applications they need – eliminating the time-consuming PC start-up and shutdown cycles that halted their progress whenever they used their laptops.
Simplicity: After becoming familiar with the device, technicians are up-and-running quickly because they use the same Verizon systems and applications they accessed via their laptops. In addition, because the smartphones combine both data and voice communications in a single device, they relieve the technicians of carrying and caring for a separate mobile phone.
Customer Communication: Timely technician-to-customer communications are an essential element of quality customer service. Verizon systems and software applications accessed using the smartphones have been upgraded to automatically prompt submission of real-time job status updates to VPS customers – enabling technicians to provide customers with greater real-time service and support information.
“Without question, the new BlackBerry smartphones are a huge leap forward in our ability to serve our wholesale customers,” said McCarthy. “One of the best features, in my mind, is the real-time job status reporting function enabled by Verizon’s customer support systems. Keeping the customer apprised and aware of the status of their service request is a crucial element of a positive customer experience.”
While the benefits of the conversion are most visible with technicians in the field, the smartphones are also having a measurable impact on the VPS unit’s operations.
“Our cost to issue a fully-loaded BlackBerry 8703e smartphone to a field tech is less than what it used to cost us to equip that same technician with a laptop,” said Henry.
The lower cost of deployment has allowed VPS to make the BlackBerry smartphones the standard communications device used by all of its technicians. This has enabled VPS to streamline its internal IT support and Help Desk operations, focusing on the smartphones rather than a variety of devices and operating systems. And, in the future, use of the smartphones, should reduce the overall cost of periodic equipment refreshes across the field force.
Data security is always an operational concern. The BlackBerry 8703e smartphone eliminates the need to secure a PC hard-drive – as the system and application servers used are all shielded by a network firewall – and its home-screen is locked and password protected.
The new device also supports Verizon’s green environmental initiatives by reducing the number of energy-consuming devices used by VPS technicians, while reducing the number of PCs that the VPS unit will decommission and recycle in the future.
“Our field technicians’ response to the smartphones has been positive, but that’s not surprising because we designed this solution using their recommendations,” said Henry. “Going forward, our plan is to solicit their continuous feedback on the device to help us plan future upgrades and improvements. We believe that enriching the utility of the device for our techs and their managers will correspondingly enrich the value of our relationships with our wholesale customers.”