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TMCNet:  Verizon's El Paso call center tops in customer care

[February 22, 2013]

Verizon's El Paso call center tops in customer care

Feb 22, 2013 (El Paso Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Employees at Verizon Wireless' El Paso call center hoisted the Walden Cup on Thursday as they celebrated being No. 1 in customer service for the last half of 2012 -- beating out 25 other Verizon call centers in the nation.

The Walden Cup is Verizon's internal award for the call center scoring best in customer service measurements in a three-month period.

"One of the things we talk to employees about is you can't buy that award. You can't get that award by accident. It's the hard work they do and the commitment they have with customers," said Melanie Braidich, vice president of customer service for Verizon's West Area, which includes call centers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and El Paso.

"It's a big deal for this team to deliver back-to-back" Walden Cups, considering that the El Paso center is competing against 25 other centers with 25,000 call takers, Braidich said.

The 500-employee call center on the East Side has won the year-old Verizon award for two of the four quarters it's been given.

It's named for Marni Walden, who instituted the award when she became the company's chief operating officer a little over a year ago. She was at the El Paso call center Thursday to present the huge Walden Cup and to treat employees to a catered lunch.

Carlos Restrepo, director of the El Paso call center for three years, said the center's secret to its success is that the employees like each other and work as a team. And they love to compete, he said.

"They take a lot of pride in winning this award," Restrepo said.

The El Paso call center handles most of Verizon's calls from Spanish-speaking customers. Sixty percent of calls handled by the El Paso center are from Spanish speakers, Restrepo said.

The call center doesn't have much employee turnover, Restrepo reported. The jobs start at $27,000 to $28,000 a year, plus benefits, the company reported.

Verizon call centers' customer service performance is measured quarterly by five measurements, which include results of customer surveys done by some callers after they speak to a call center employee. It also includes a measurement on how many services and products the center sells to customers.

The El Paso call center apparently isn't the only Verizon center with a handle on customer service. Verizon this month was ranked for the fourth straight time by marketing firm J.D. Power and Associates as the wireless phone carrier with the best customer service. AT&T was second, followed by Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile. The ranking was based on a survey of 7,332 customers of various wireless phone carriers nationwide.

Verizon is the nation's largest wireless phone carrier with 98.2 million customers.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at vkolenc @elpasotimes.com, 546-6421. Follow him on Twitter @vickolencMore information: verizonwireless.com ___ (c)2013 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Visit the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) at www.elpasotimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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