This video originally appeared on Total Retail's sister site, Women in Retail Leadership Circle.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Verizon had to close its retail stores, instead of laying off or furloughing thousands of employees, the telecommunications company used it as an opportunity to train thousands of its store sales associates on its customer service function. This was a key takeaway from a discussion that took place between Aparna Khurjekar, chief customer officer at Verizon, and Melissa Campanelli, co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle, during the September installment of the Women in Retail and Total Retail Virtual Exchange.

"This was a great opportunity to see life from the other side," Khurjekar said. "[Our front-line workers] are generally the people at the top of the funnel, so this was a great learning experience for them." This is just one example of why Verizon was named to the top of the Forbes Corporate Responders ranking, which assessed how well the 100 largest employers among U.S. public companies responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, Khurjekar noted.

Also during the wide-ranging interview, Khurjekar discussed how the behavior of Verizon's customers is changing, as well as what the company is doing to evolve its in-store and digital experiences to reflect those changing preferences; how Verizon's omnichannel approach extends to marketing; what Verizon is doing to create long-term customer relationships; and offered leadership advice for those trying to create the right corporate culture.

To watch the full interview with Khurjekar from the September Women in Retail and Total Retail Virtual Exchange, as well as interviews with Ravi Saligram, CEO, Newell Brands; Chris Lindland, CEO, Betabrand; and Christina Callas, executive vice president and chief digital officer, Total Wine & More, click here.

Want to see more interviews with leading women in retail? Join us for our Women in Retail Leadership Days virtual event, which is taking place throughout October! Register today.

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