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Verizon cautions customer service staff of impending layoffs

Just days after overhauling its wireless data plans, Verizon on Wednesday held a meeting with a wide audience of customer service employees to notify them of upcoming “restructuring” and “streamlining” measures that are all but certain to result in significant layoffs. More details will be shared tomorrow, May 25th, according to a prerecorded message that employees received. Over 6,000 employees were present on today’s call — The Verge spoke with several of them — but the consolidation measures could end up impacting numbers far beyond that.

The warning comes just a month after Verizon posted Q1 ’23 earnings, which fell short of Wall Street estimates as its subscriber base continued to shrink. The company lost 127,000 postpaid subscribers in the quarter. In March, the company appointed Sowmyanarayan Sampath as CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, which oversees its customer service operation.

Those involved in today’s call were told they’d be able to accept a severance offer (two weeks per year of tenure) or, in select cases, apply for roles to “transition to the next stage of your career journey.” According to an internal document provided to The Verge, those roles revolve around customer experience, loyalty, and technology positions.

The company gave affected workers a deadline of June 7th to make a decision on their preference, according to people who were on the call. Those who apply for new positions are not guaranteed to be hired, and for those who don’t take the severance option, June 23rd is the date that Verizon will inform employees of their future at the company.

Over on the Verizon subreddit, some are speculating that the company is making these moves so that it can shift yet more after-sales service and customer assistance to outside vendors overseas. Verizon has largely halted domestic hiring for customer service positions, according to people familiar with the matter.

The developments come soon after Verizon announced rejiggered cellular plans that have been greeted with a lukewarm reception from some customers since they no longer bundle in premium services like Apple Music or the Disney Bundle. Carriers are facing stagnant revenues and are trying to monetize 5G in any way they can after years of hyping the faster network technology. Verizon has said it plans to flip the switch on C-band spectrum in more areas throughout the country over the coming months.

The Verge has reached out to Verizon for more details. Potential layoffs would continue an ongoing wave of similar cuts across the tech industry at major companies, including Meta, Disney, Lyft, and many others.

Through the years, Verizon has touted its comprehensive network coverage and award-winning customer service. Making a choice to curtail investing in that experience in the US could prove detrimental both for the business and customers looking for some help — not to mention the many loyal employees who are now uncertain of where their career path goes from here. The Verge

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