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Verizon Execs Steer Customer Executive Engagement on the C-Train

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/5/2013

As part of the 2013 ASAP Global Alliance Summit’s Alliances and the C-Suite track, three Verizon executives outlined their relatively new customer executive engagement initiative in their presentation “Take the C-Train: Adding Strategic Alliances to Customer Executive Engagement Programs.”

Leona Helverson, CSAP, executive engagement program manager at Verizon, began the session describing the genesis of the program that sought to move from an ad hoc method of engaging key executives with counterparts at key customers and suppliers, and generate additional revenues while increasing customer satisfaction. Verizon segmented their key 100 players into three categories: 1) top customers, 2) top suppliers, and 3) top strategic alliances.

Ultimately, 28 Verizon executives vice presidents, direct reports to C-level executives, and C-Suite members themselves were assigned to each of these entities. Each were taken through a formal pre-engagement, executive engagement, and post-engagement process for their meetings with customer and supplier leaders. The former saw the customer engagement team prepare executive briefing forms, strategic account plans, and pre-briefing checklists that provided direction for all stakeholders for partner activities.

Verizon eventually settled on three success metrics for the program after a little reconnaissance revealed very few sample engagement program measures to work with: 1) first-year case studies, 2) revenue, and 3) number of actual in-person engagements between the two executives (two per year).

Bettina Raymond, CA-AM, global alliance executive at Verizon, walked attendees through the executive sponsor selection process. The company made sure the conversation cut across a variety of parts of the organization—alliance management, sales, solutions, and sourcing, among others. The group had to sort out who makes the decision? Does the alliance partner get any say? What if there are multiple partners in an alliance?

Karen Robinson, CA-AM, alliance executive at Verizon, summarized the team’s roles and responsibilities. A major one was to provide the right level of detail for the executives in a scorecard. Although according to Robinson, it took a few iterations to reduce the amount of information to a manageable level, the scorecards provided a full 360-degree view of Verizon’s engagement with each partner and customer that incorporated information from the alliance and sales teams.

Using methodologies from Phoenix Consulting Group, Robinson summarized the responsibilities of each executive sponsor: serve as champion, evangelize the alliance, represent the company on key issues with partner, provide strategic guidelines in aligning objectives, and assist in organizational navigation.

Finally, the presentation closed with a top-line summary of the program’s characteristics:
  1. Engage executive sponsors across the business (HR, CFO, CIO, sales etc.)
  2. Strategic (as opposed to tactical)
  3. Proactive (not reactive)
  4. Long-term, deeper engagements with customers and suppliers

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